Fernando Alonso admitted he began talks around potentially leaving Ferrari as early as last year, but also explored the possibility of staying at the team.
Ferrari announced today Alonso will leave the team two years before his current contract was due to expire and be replaced by Sebastian Vettel. But Alonso said he had discussed extending his current deal until 2019.
However Alonso decided after this year’s summer break to call time on his spell at Ferrari. “It was not an easy decision to make,” he said.
“I was in talks even last year to be honest. We wait for this year for the new car and this year I felt around summer time, September, that it was time to move. I take the decision, only time will tell if it’s a good one or bad one.”
“What is for sure is that it has been an amazing experience. So, so happy, so proud to have those five years with an amazing team, amazing brand like Ferrari. I grew up as a driver, as a person and only good things and good words. Obviously we missed the championship, came three times second. But extremely proud of those second places and the work that we did those years and now it’s time to close one door, to open a new one and we’ll see how it goes.”
Alonso said there was no one change which led him to leave Ferrari, but explained his decision had been swung by Ferrari’s failure to produce a competitive car following the change in engine regulations this year.
“It was not a special moment of the year that I opened the eyes,” he said. “Last year I had some doubts about 2014, I knew that it was a big change of regulations so I thought it was the 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 talk every week and we more or less agree that if this year we were not competitive again maybe I could think other options.
“I arrived summer break I said maybe it’s time to sit with [the] president and say for them [if] it’s OK I would like to go. As I said I need to thank so much Ferrari because they could say ‘no’, but they understand that it was the best for the two parts.
“This is again a true sign of respect and love for this team and they show me also respect on that. As I said I stopped as a Ferrari driver but from Monday I’m a Ferrari supporter.”
2014 F1 season
- Fear of rules change led Mercedes to run dominant 2014 engine in “idle mode”
- Bianchi’s fight for life ends nine months after Japanese Grand Prix crash
- Mercedes’ Bahrain battle “too dangerous” – Warwick
- Streiff’s comments on Bianchi crash investigation prompts legal action from FIA
- Is stewarding improving? Analysing 2014’s penalties
Image © Ferrari/Ercole Colombo