Fernando Alonso kills off McLaren return rumours

Ferrari's Fernando Alonso negotiates a corner during yesterday's first practice session for the Singapore Grand Prix. Picture: AFP/Getty
Ferrari's Fernando Alonso negotiates a corner during yesterday's first practice session for the Singapore Grand Prix. Picture: AFP/Getty
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Fernando Alonso has no intention of returning to McLaren and instead is determined to extend what he claims is a love affair with Ferrari.

Six years after Alonso left McLaren in acrimonious circumstances, team principal Martin Whitmarsh openly revealed yesterday his desire to have the Spaniard back at Woking.

Whitmarsh has pounced on speculation and the observations of others suggesting Alonso’s partnership with Kimi Raikkonen from next season is potentially going to be explosive.

Alonso, who has three years remaining on his current Ferrari contract, has seemingly killed the rumours of a potential switch to McLaren stone dead – at least for this season.

Asked whether a move to McLaren was attractive, Alonso replied: “Not really. I love Ferrari and I want to stay until the end.

“It’s nice to hear comments from all the teams and team principals every year saying they respect my job, my professionalism, and especially from McLaren.

“There were so many rumours we had a lot of problems that year (in 2007). I have always said I had no problems with anyone.

“It was just the philosophy of the team, and one man in the team no longer there (former team principal Ron Dennis).

“It’s good to have this compliment, but there is no intention. Three more years in Ferrari and I hope many more to come. If we can extend the contract, that will be my focus.”

Despite Alonso’s remarks, it is known he has grown frustrated at the team’s failure to assist him to win his third world title.

There are also speculative rumblings Ferrari are struggling to adapt to the new powertrain regulations that come into force next season, and that is also making Alonso nervous.

On the track Sebastian Vettel will believe he has a hat-trick of Singapore grands prix in his sights this weekend, although will have to wait for Mercedes to show their full hand. In the opening 90-minute session, as dusk turned to dark and the Marina Bay Street track was lit up by the power of 1,500 halogen lamps, so Lewis Hamilton also illuminated the stunning venue.

On the medium-compound tyres, Hamilton posted a time of one minute 47.055secs, leaving Red Bull duo Mark Webber, and in particular three-times champion Vettel in the shade. Come second practice, and eventually a switch to the significantly faster supersoft rubber, Vettel was the one in a class of his own.

Vettel shaved 2.8secs from Hamilton’s time, with the Briton down in fourth behind Webber and Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg, trailing by 1.119secs.

The picture to emerge, however, was that Mercedes were more focused on their long-run pace than blazing a trail, although the stage is set for another Red Bull versus Mercedes qualifying battle.

Vettel ultimately clocked a lap of one minute 44.249secs, finishing six tenths of a second clear of Webber, with Rosberg exactly a second off the pace. On the back of successive wins in Belgium and Italy, and after taking the chequered flag at this venue for the last two years, there is no denying Vettel will again be the man to beat tomorrow.

Alonso was almost 1.5secs back in sixth, with Jenson Button in his McLaren and Raikkonen of Lotus in close attendance, with the latter’s team-mate in Romain Grosjean outshining the Finn as he was fifth fastest, 1.162secs down. Paul Di Resta was 13th in his Force India, 2.357secs off the pace.