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Alonso to replace Raikkonen at Ferrari in 2010

Ferrari finally confirmed on Wednesday that Fernando Alonso will race for the team next season, replacing Kimi Raikkonen as Felipe Massa’s team mate. Giancarlo Fischella will continue in the role of reserve driver.

Alonso, who has spent the bulk of his Formula One career with Renault, has signed a three-year agreement with Ferrari, starting in 2010.

“I’m very happy and very proud to become a Ferrari driver,” said the Spaniard. “Driving a single-seater from the Prancing Horse is everybody’s dream in this sport and today I have the opportunity to make this dream come true. Above all I want to thank Ferrari Chairman Luca di Montezemolo, who really wanted this three-year contract.

“We already had an agreement this summer starting in 2011, but then, the last days, the picture changed and we decided to anticipate my arrival in Maranello by one year. The years at Renault were fantastic: together we won four world titles (two drivers’ and as many constructors’ championships), and until this day, 21 Grands Prix.

"I wish the team all the best and let’s hope we gain some good results in the last races this year. After this season I will put all my effort in the next season: I’m sure that, together with Felipe, we’ll offer Ferrari and the fans from all over the world some great satisfaction. I can’t wait to start working with my new team.”

Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali added: “We are very proud to welcome to our team another winning driver, who has demonstrated his amazing talent by winning two world championships in his career to date.”

Alonso made his Formula One debut in 2001 with Minardi, before becoming Renault’s official test driver the following season. In 2003 he was promoted to a race seat and became F1 racing’s youngest Grand Prix winner with victory. By the end of 2005 he was also its youngest champion.

He successfully defended his title in 2006, fending off a resurgent Michael Schumacher in the latter half of the season, before taking his number one with him to McLaren for 2007, where he endured a tempestuous year alongside Lewis Hamilton.

Alonso returned to Renault for 2008, scoring two race wins, despite a less than competitive car. This season the team have been off the pace once more, with Alonso taking just one podium to date, at the last round in Singapore.

He will become only the second Spanish driver to compete for Ferrari, following in the footsteps of Alfonso de Portago, who raced for the team in 1956 and 1957.

Raikkonen has yet to confirm his plans for 2010.

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