Alonso signs with Ferrari to 2016

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The Independent Online

Fernando Alonso gave his fans a message they wanted to hear yesterday, when he confirmed that he will stay with Ferrari until the end of the 2016 season.

When the 29-year-old Spaniard joined the team last year his contract ran until 2012, but he agreed the extension last week and signed it in Maranello.

"It was good news for me and my career to extend the contract to 2016," he said, confirming his intention to conclude his racing career with the legendary Italian team. "I don't imagine a better place to race for a racing driver. I have been lucky to arrive here last year and I felt at home from day one and I have the possibility to race here until the end of 2016, so it will be seven years in Ferrari. I am happy and privileged, and maybe in 2017 we will have another contract. I will see if I am not too old and if Ferrari still want me."

By then he will be only 35, still young by Formula One standards. Alonso immediately stamped his authority on the team last year, a fact which was brought home forcibly to 2008 championship contender Felipe Massa when he was instructed to hand the lead of the German GP to his team-mate. Alonso went on to challenge for the title before losing to Sebastian Vettel in the finale in Abu Dhabi.

"It was already very clear that I wanted to race here for many years and, despite what the contract said, the stability was always 100 per cent in my case. This was just a public confirmation, nothing changed inside the team. I have to say it was a very easy decision for us. We started talking one or two weeks ago and both of us wanted to continue. I was happy with the team and they seemed to be happy with me, so we said: 'OK, we make an extension of the contract'.

"We agreed to 2016, and everything is more clear for us, for the team members and for everyone to have stability. It was a decision from both parts."

Alonso, who won his two world championships with Renault in 2005 and 2006, said he had no doubt Ferrari was the best team with which to compete for more titles, even though they have yet to match Red Bull in 2011. "F1 is impossible to predict. For sure I am in the best team to fight for world championships. Some other teams go up and down, they have good years and bad years. At Ferrari in the worst years you finish second or third in the world championship, so this is something Ferrari can offer to a driver."

It also emerged yesterday that the inaugural Indian GP, scheduled to be run on 30 October, may be moved back to 4 December if its date is given to the beleaguered Bahrainis to run their race, which was postponed in March amid political unrest.