FERRARI HAS FINALLY confirmed the long awaited arrival of two-time World Champion Fernando Alonso to replace Kimi Raikkonen from 2010.
While Alonso initially signed an agreement to move to the Scuderia in 2011, Raikkonen?s rapidly falling level of favour within Ferrari, allied to the deteriorating situation at Renault, prompted the Maranello-based outfit to accelerate the Spaniard?s arrival on a three-year deal.
Commenting on the move, Alonso said the prospect of competing for Ferrari next season is the realisation of a lifelong dream.
?I?m very happy and very proud to become a Ferrari driver. Driving a single-seater from the Prancing Horse is everybody?s dream in this sport and today I have the opportunity to make this dream come true,? he said.
?Above all I want to thank Ferrari Chairman Luca di Montezemolo, who really wanted this 3-year contract.
?We already had an agreement this summer starting in 2011, but then, the last days, the picture changed and we decided to anticipate my arrival in Maranello by one year.?
Ferrari Team Principal Stefano Domenicali praised Raikkonen?s contribution to the team during his three year stay in Italy, stating the 29-year-old left an indelible impact on Maranello courtesy of his stunning 2007 World Championship triumph.
"We spoke with Kimi and agreed to end our contract one year ahead of schedule. The three years together were very intense and successful, culminating with the extraordinary win of the World Championship in 2007 and the decisive contribution to conquering two consecutive Constructors? titles,? he said.
?I?m sure that he will remember this time together with us as one of the most beautiful times in his career, just like we will remember him with affection and admiration as a driver with such extraordinary talent and such an honest, transparent and loyal man deserves.?
Although Raikkonen is yet to finalise his destination for next season, the Finn is expected to return to McLaren and partner Lewis Hamilton to form one of the most electrifying partnerships in F1 history.
However, Raikkonen expressed regret at the end of his partnership with Ferrari, which yielded nine victories, five pole positions and World Championship in three seasons.
?I am very sad to be leaving a team with which I have spent three fantastic years, during which time I won plenty of races,? he said.
?Together, we have won 50% of the world titles in that period and I managed to take the Drivers? title in 2007, thus achieving the target I had set myself at the start of my career. I have always felt at home with everyone here and I will have many happy memories of my time with the team.?