Ferrari will have four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel racing for them from next season after the German signed a three-year contract to replace Fernando Alonso at the Maranello outfit.
Generally thought as the worst kept secret in Formula 1, Vettel’s move was confirmed just moments after his Spanish rival’s departure was announced. Alonso is heavily rumoured to be re-joining McLaren, with the British team’s line-up to be revealed some time in early December; the two-time champion had two years remaining on his Ferrari contract, but both parties came to a mutual decision to part.
“It was a difficult decision to take, but a carefully considered one from start to finish,” said Alonso. “My love for Ferrari was a prime consideration.”
However, the 33-year-old had been thinking of making his departure from Ferrari as early as last season.
”It was not a special moment of the year that I opened my eyes,” he said. “Last year I had some doubts about 2014.
“I knew that it was a big change of regulations so I thought best thing to check how the 2014 new turbo era was going for Ferrari.
“I had a very close relationship with president [Luca] di Montezemolo. We talked every week and we more or less agreed that if this year we were not competitive again we could think of different options.
“In the summer break it was time to sit with the president and say, ‘OK, I would like to go’.”
Vettel will partner with Kimi Raikkonen who has retained his seat at Ferrari. The driver who will leave Red Bull, his team of six season, said on the switch: “When I was a kid Michael Schumacher in the red car was my greatest idol. It’s an incredible honour to get the chance to drive a Ferrari.”
Ferrari team boss Marco Mattiacci said of Vettel’s appointment: “Scuderia Ferrari has decided to put its faith in the youngest multiple champion in the history of Formula 1.
“Sebastian Vettel is a unique combination of youthfulness and experience,” added Mattiaci.
“He brings with him that sense of team spirit which will prove invaluable when, together with Kimi, they tackle the challenges awaiting us, as we aim to be front runners again as soon as possible.”
The 2014 season wraps up this weekend in Abu Dhabi, where Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg will fight it out for the championship, with a second place finish good enough for the Brit to clinch the title.