Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone believes Fernando Alonso's Ferrari switch has set the stage for a vintage year for the sport next season.
The double world champion's move to the prestigious Italian team on a three-year contract believed to be worth £55m was confirmed yesterday and he will partner Felipe Massa - currently stepping up his recovery from his horrific accident in Hungary - for the 2010 campaign.
The announcement also signalled the end of Kimi Raikkonen's three-year Ferrari stay with the Finn widely touted to replace the struggling Heikki Kovalainen at McLaren.
With Alonso and a resurgent Lewis Hamilton on the same grid as a rejuvenated Raikkonen, potential 2009 world champion Jenson Button at Brawn GP and impressive young German driver Sebastian Vettel at Red Bull, next year has all the makings of a season to rival any in the sport's illustrious past.
"It's good for Fernando, good for Ferrari, good for Formula One," said Ecclestone.
"I think we will see Kimi in a good car, it would be good to see him in a McLaren wouldn't it?
"It looks good, I think next year will be a good year."
Ecclestone also believes Massa will have no trouble working alongside Alonso, who in the past has been accused of demanding favourable treatment from his employers, most famously during the Spaniard's ill-fated stint at McLaren that saw the breakdown of his relationship with then team-mate Hamilton over the course of the 2007 season.
"If he handled Kimi, he should be able to handle Fernando, they're the same type of driver really aren't they? I think he'll be all right," he added.
"No, no way (will Alonso impose team orders). He may try but I don't think he'll be successful."
As to why Raikkonen failed to hit the heights many expected at Ferrari, Ecclestone replied: "It's a different culture. He's probably better off with a more English-type team. I hope the old Kimi turns up next season."
Formula One returns to Suzuka this weekend after a two-year hiatus imposed so the Japanese circuit could upgrade their facilities and Ecclestone is pleased with the results.
"Now you can understand why I complain about Silverstone," he underlined.
"They've (Suzuka) got on with it. That was one of the conditions that we came back here."
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