President of Ferrari sees Alonso as future driver

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The Independent Online

Fernando Alonso could replace Michael Schumacher at Ferrari in the future, according to the team's president.

Although Luca Di Montezemolo said he was in no rush to sign a new driver, he added: "Ferrari does not have space for inexperienced drivers but Alonso has great potential and is a candidate for the future. He is similar to Michael when he was at Benetton - a fantastic talent that needs time."

Di Montezemolo said that "there is no need to rush" the search for a new driver - Ferrari have both Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello under contract until 2006.

Alonso has questioned the ability of his peers ahead of the new Formula One season. He is one of the new generation of drivers along with last season's world championship runner-up, Kimi Raikkonen, Jenson Button and Mark Webber. "The best driver of the new generation is not in F1," Alonso said. "When I raced in go-karts, there were 15 to 20 better drivers than we have now in F1."

Alonso, the 1998 European kart champion, impressed on the Formula One circuit last season when he pushed Michael Schumacher close in Spain before claiming his maiden win in Hungary.

But he said: "I feel very lucky. I thought I would be in go-karts all my life, but I had luck with sponsors, in Formula 3000, with Minardi and Renault, all those steps in my career.

"The new generation, I don't know. There are some drivers who are racing go-karts, then one year in Formula Three with not very good results and then in F1 with a big team."