Two-time world champion Fernando Alonso has signed for Ferrari on a three-year deal, the Formula One giants announced on Wednesday.
Alonso will replace 2007 world champion Kim Raikkonen in Ferrari’s line-up for next season. Raikkonen is reported to be headed for McLaren to replace fellow Finn Heikki Kovalainen, with BMW Sauber’s Robert Kubica moving to Renault to fill the gap left by the long-anticipated departure of Alonso. “We are very proud to welcome to our team another winning driver, who has demonstrated his amazing talent by winning two world championships in his career to date,” Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali told their official Web site. Alonso will pair up next season with the currently sidelined Brazilian Felipe Massa, with Giancarlo Fisichell acting as reserve driver. Massa is recovering from the serious injuries he received in a freak qualifying crash at the Hungary Grand Prix two months ago. Raikkonen has been shouldering the burden for Ferrari since Massa’s crash, but despite his efforts he has seen his contract ended a year early.
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“With common consent, we have agreed to terminate the contract binding me to Ferrari to the end of 2010, one year ahead of schedule,” he said. “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 added. The 28-year-old Alonso won successive world titles with Renault in 2005 and 2006 before spending an unhappy year at McLaren where he was often forced to play second fiddle to Lewis Hamilton. He rejoined Renault for last season and scored a subsequently controversial victory in the Singapore Grand Prix. The World Motor Sport Council cleared the Spaniard of any involvement in the race-fixing scandal which led to a lifetime ban for team boss Flavio Briatore and he claimed the final podium spot in this weekend’s race in Singapore. The Ferrari statement did not reveal the Alonso’s monetary deal but media reports are suggesting he will earn $36 million per season.