MONZA, Italy (AFP) – Spanish two-time world champion Fernando Alonso declared on Thursday that he hopes to be behind the wheel of a Ferrari until at least 2016 as he seeks to quash rumours of a potential departure ahead of the Italian Grand Prix.
The 32-year-old, who won back-to-back world titles with Renault in 2005 and 2006 and counts 32 GP victories to his name in a career that began in 2001, had been linked with a move to Red Bull or a potential sabbatical year, but has now said he wants to stay with the Italian outfit.
”There were rumours about Red Bull and rumours about a sabbatical year, there were so many rumours,” said the driver who comes into the weekend second in the driver standings and 46 points behind triple world champion Sebastian Vettel of Germany.
”I still have a contract for three and a half years with Ferrari and I have the intention to respect that and even extend it,” he continued.
”I want to finish my career with the best team in the world, in other words Ferrari.
”We are not at the moment picking up the results we want but we are working extremely hard. Next year, there will be completely new rules which may allow a number of teams to diminish the domination of Red Bull over the past two years.
”We have a lot of hope for next season,” he continued in reference to the new V6 turbo hybrid engines which will come into competition in 2014.
Alonso’s continued relationship with Ferrari was also enhanced with the news that Australian Daniel Ricciardo is set to take the second driver’s seat at Red Bull with his compatriot Mark Webber on his way out.
The Oviedo native also believes that this weekend’s action at Monza may be decisive in whether he can claw his way back into contention in the standings against Vettel.
”We only closed the gap in Silverstone when he retired,” he said. ”We need to change this situation and we will be happy finishing in front of him here in Monza and in Singapore.
”And finishing in front of Seb means being on the podium minimum. We know how strong he is and how competitive Red Bull will be.
”If we cannot finish in front of him and keep losing points we need to start thinking of the 2014 project because it will only be six or seven races remaining with a massive points gap.
”These are two important races for sure.”