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Fernando Alonso signs new Ferrari contract

Fernando Alonso signs new Ferrari contract

Spanish driver Fernando Alonso has signed a new deal with Ferrari that will keep him with the Italian team until the end of the 2016 season.

The announcement comes just over a year into the three-year deal Alonso signed when he initially joined Ferrari.

"I am very happy to have reached this agreement," said the 29-year-old double world champion.

"I immediately felt comfortable within Ferrari and now it feels to me like a second family."

In signing such a lengthy deal, Alonso is convinced he will now finish his F1 career with Ferrari.

"I have the utmost faith in the men and women who work in Maranello and in those who lead them," added Alonso.

"It is therefore natural for me to decide to extend my relationship in the long term like this, with a team at which I will no doubt end my Formula One career one day."

Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo said: "It is a great pleasure to have renewed our agreement with a driver who has always demonstrated a winning mentality, even in the most difficult circumstances.

"Fernando has all the required qualities, both technically and personally, to play a leading role in the history of Ferrari and I hope he will be enriching it with further wins very soon."

Last week, Di Montezemolo insisted that Ferrari would honour Felipe Massa's contract with the team which expires at the end of next season.

The Brazilian has been under pressure since Alonso's arrival but Massa has shown signs of recovering some of his best form this season out-scoring his team-mate in Malaysia and China.

Alonso, who will compete in his home Grand Prix in Barcelona this weekend, earned his and Ferrari's first podium finish of the season at the Turkish Grand Prix on 8 May, finishing third behind Red Bull duo Vettel and Mark Webber.

The result means he trails the German world champion Sebastian Vettel by 52 points after four races of the 2011 season.

Since winning the world championship with Red Bull, Vettel has spoken of his desire to drive for Ferrari in the future.

But Alonso's contraction extension appears to rule out a role for Vettel or McLaren's Lewis Hamilton, whose contract runs out in 2012.

Vettel pipped Alonso to last year's title, in what was an eventful debut Ferrari season for the Spaniard.

Alonso had started in stunning fashion with victory in the first race of the season in Bahrain in March 2010, but then had to wait until July to record his next win, in Germany, a triumph that was shrouded in controversy.

Leading the race, team-mate Massa was told in coded team orders that were banned at the time to let Alonso pass him.

The result proved to be the start of an Alonso charge as he reeled off three victories in four races in September and October that put him within touching distance of his third title.

However, a bungled pit-stop strategy proved costly in the last race in Abu Dhabi, meaning Alonso finished seventh and missed out on the title.

Alonso's title successes came in 2005 and 2006, when he was driving for Renault.

Posted on Thursday 19th May 2011

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