FERNANDO Alonso will leave Ferrari at the end of the current Formula 1 season, according to the Italian team’s recently-departed president Luca Di Montezemolo.
Alonso’s decision has not yet been made public by either the Spaniard or the Maranello-based marque, but has been anticipated for the last couple of weeks in the wake of Sebastian Vettel revealing he was leaving Red Bull.
Ferrari have also not yet confirmed whether they will link up with the reigning four-times world champion but Di Montezemolo’s announcement on Wednesday paves the way for the German to join the famous company.
Di Montezemolo said on Italian television channel RAI: “Alonso is leaving for two reasons: One, he wants another environment. Two, because he is at an age when he cannot wait to win again.”
Alonso, a world champion in 2005 and 2006 with Renault, had high hopes of adding to his crowns after joining Ferrari in 2010.
Despite finishing runner-up to Vettel in three of the last four years, including taking the championship to the final race in 2010 and 2012, Alonso has not had the success he would have been craving.
Di Montezemolo admitted that the team’s ailing fortunes – Ferrari have not won a constructors’ title since 2008, while neither Alonso nor Kimi Raikkonen have topped the podium this season – have been a large factor in the 33 year old’s departure.
He is sixth in the standings this year, with just two podium appearances after finishing third in China in April and runner-up in Hungary in July.
“He was disappointed that he has not won over these last years and wanted new stimulus,” added Di Montezemolo, who left his post earlier this week after 23 years in office and has been replaced by Sergio Marchionne, the chief executive officer of parent company Fiat.
Alonso appears to have limited options available to him ahead of next year, with a move mostly likely to McLaren appearing the only choice other than taking a self-imposed one-year sabbatical from the sport.
The prospect of him joining the Woking-based team throws into doubt the destiny of 2009 champion Jenson Button, whose deal with McLaren expires at the end of the season.
The Briton has been confident of retaining his seat and could yet form a strong partnership with Alonso were McLaren to decide to keep the 34-year-old on – instead of their other driver Kevin Magnussen – when the team switches to Honda engines next year.