Ferrari confirm Alonso deal

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The Independent Online

Ferrari reached an agreement to sign driver Fernando Alonso today, replacing Kimi Raikkonen starting next season.

The Formula One team said in a statement the agreement is for three seasons with the two-time world champion.

Alonso and Felipe Massa will be Ferrari's drivers next year. Giancarlo Fisichella will act as backup.

"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," the statement read. "Of course, we wish to thank Kimi for everything he has done during his time with Ferrari. In his first year with us, he managed to win the drivers' title, thus making his contribution to Ferrari's history, and he played a vital role in our taking of the constructors' title in 2007 and 2008.

"Even during a difficult season like this one, he has demonstrated his great talent with several good results — including a great win in Spa — and we are sure that we can share more good times together in the final three races of this season."

Alonso will join Ferrari from Renault, with whom he won the F1 title in 2005 and '06. So far in 2009, third place at the Singapore Grand Prix last week is his only podium finish.

"I am delighted and very proud to become a Ferrari driver," Alonso told reporters. "Driving for Ferrari is a dream for anyone who takes part in this sport, and today I am lucky enough to realize that dream."

Raikkonen joined Ferrari in 2007 from McLaren, winning the title in his first year and finishing third in 2008. He is currently fifth in the driver's championship, 44 points behind leader Jenson Button. The Finn is now expected to return to McLaren.

"With common consent, we have agreed to terminate the contract binding me to Ferrari to the end of 2010, one year ahead of schedule," Raikkonen 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.

"Together, we have won 50 percent of the world titles in that period and I managed to take the drivers' title in 2007, thus achieving the target I had set myself at the start of my career. I have always felt at home with everyone here and I will have many happy memories of my time with the team."

It has been a poor year by Ferrari's high standards. Raikkonen recorded the team's first podium finish at the Monaco GP, the sixth race of the year, and the Finn took its only win at the Belgium GP.

In July, Massa was sidelined for the rest of the season following a life-threatening accident at the Hungarian GP.

Seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher was initially brought back to replace the Brazilian but was stopped from racing due to an injury. Test driver Luca Badoer competed in the European and Belgian races before Giancarlo Fisichella was brought in for the rest of the season from Force India.