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Formula One

Alonso turns down McLaren offer

Ferrari driver flattered by interest from rival outfit but remains committed to Italian team for remainder of career.

Last Modified: 20 Sep 2013 19:35
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McLaren raised eyebrows when he publicly flagged his interest in luring the Spaniard back [EPA]

Former world champion Fernando Alonso rebuffed McLaren Friday over a shock return to the British team, and said he would stay at Ferrari for at least another three years.

Alonso said he was flattered by McLaren's surprise interest, revealed during the run-up to the Singapore Grand Prix, but confirmed he would see out his contract, which runs to 2016.

"Not really," Alonso told journalists on Friday, when asked if he was interested in moving back to McLaren.

"I keep repeating that I love Ferrari and I will stay at Ferrari until the end."

He added: "It's good to have these comments but there are no intentions -- I have three more years with Ferrari and I hope many more to come.

"And if we can extend the contract then that would be my hope."

Growing speculation

What started as speculation gathered pace in Singapore after McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh and driver Jenson Button both sang the praises of Alonso, world champion in 2005 and 2006.

Alonso is reported to be unhappy at Ferrari's decision to hire another former world champion, Kimi Raikkonen, as his racing partner next season.

And McLaren are yet to confirm contracts for either of their drivers, Button and Mexico's Sergio Perez, for 2014, although the Briton says his deal for next year is a formality.

Whitmarsh stirred the pot when he indicated he was open to Alonso re-joining McLaren, after his single season there in 2007, as early as next season.

"I expect our driver line-up for next year to stay the same but we are open to anything and in the long term he would be a great asset," Whitmarsh told Britain's Sky television.

"Fernando is in charge of his own destiny, but we'll see."

However, Alonso, currently second in the drivers’ championship behind Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel, was quick to quash any expectations of a move.

"It's nice to have comments from other teams... they respect my job and my professionalism," he said. "So it's good to have these comments but there are no intentions."

Alonso added that he had no problem with Raikkonen, despite doubts aired by several observers about whether they will be able to work together effectively.

"Of course," he said, when asked whether he was happy Ferrari had signed Raikkonen in place of current co-driver Felipe Massa.

"I was pushing a lot for that decision, finally they took Kimi and that's good... when the team decided to change Felipe, in my opinion Kimi was the best option."

Formula One is currently beset with rumours over drivers' movements, with both Massa and Sauber's Nico Hulkenberg linked to Raikkonen's soon-to-be-vacated seat at Lotus.

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Source:
AFP
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