Formula 1

Ferrari finally confirm Fernando Alonso departure

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Its official, Sebastian Vettel will replace Fernando Alonso at Ferrari from 2015 after signing a three-year deal.

The announcement was made via Ferrari's Twitter page who first confirmed the Spaniard's departure after five years with the team before later naming the four-time world champion as his replacement.

It was one of the worst kept secrets of the past month or two after Vettel announced he would be leaving Red Bull at the Japanese Grand Prix seven weeks ago, however, the future destination of Alonso remains uncertain as McLaren, the team most expect the two-time champion to return to, said there would be no driver announcement until December at the earliest.

Ferrari love made for 'a difficult decision'

Ferrari said they and Alonso had agreed to split by 'common consent' and speaking about his five years with the team, the 33-year-old admitted it had been a very difficult decision to leave the team he loves.

"Today is not an easy one for me, because even if I always look to the future with great enthusiasm and determination, at the end of this season my journey as a Ferrari driver will come to an end," he said in a statement.

“It was a difficult decision to take, but a carefully considered one and from start to finish, my love for Ferrari was a prime consideration. I have always been lucky enough to make my own decisions about my future and I have that possibility now too. I must thank the team for that, as it understood my position.

Alonso proud and better as a driver

Despite the disappointment of failing to capture a world championship with Ferrari, Alonso said that his time at Maranello had only improved him as a driver and that he is still proud of what he achieved in his time with the Scuderia.

"I leave Scuderia Ferrari after five years, during which I reached my very best level professionally, tackling major challenges that pushed me to find new limits," he claimed.

"I also proved to be a true team-player, putting the interests of the Scuderia before my own. When I had to take important decisions about my future, I did so with Ferrari in my heart, driven by my love for the team.

"I am very proud of what we have achieved together. Thanks to the efforts of the men and women of Maranello, on three occasions we came second in the Formula 1 World Championship, two of them fighting for the title right up to and including the final race, running in a championship winning position for many laps."

Vettel's dream comes true

The announcement of Sebastian Vettel marks a move many thought would be the German's destiny to follow in the footsteps of his hero Michael Schumacher.

Indeed upon his confirmation with the team Vettel said "a dream of a lifetime has come true" adding: “When I was a kid, Michael Schumacher in the red car was my greatest idol and now it’s an incredible honour to finally get the chance to drive a Ferrari.

“I already got a small taste of what the Ferrari spirit means, when I took my first win at Monza in 2008, with an engine from the Prancing Horse built in Maranello. The Scuderia has a great tradition in this sport and I am extremely motivated to help the team get back to the top. I will put my heart and soul into making it happen.”

Few had expected after so many years of success with Red Bull that the move would happen so soon, however, after a difficult 2014 as the change in engine formula has seen the Austrian team's domination end - and the rise of his team-mate Daniel Ricciardo - Vettel had previously said the time was right for change.

Arrives at a team in transition

But what is next for Sebastian upon his dream move? He arrives at a team set to finish fourth in the Constructors' championship after another year failing to reach expectation, has failed to win a Grand Prix since May 2013 and only has two podium finishes to their name this year.

However, under new boss Marco Mattiacci there have been signs the traditional methods that have held them back in recent years are being discarded and there is a renewed determination to get the Prancing Horse back at the front in F1.

Vettel will partner his good friend Kimi Raikkonen, who has had a difficult first year back after rejoining at the start of 2014, but with James Allison designing the 2015 car it is expected the Finn should be back near his best next season.

If so it marks another very tasty partnership between two former world champions, however, given the pair's friendship, any animosity would be a surprise.

McLaren beckons?

And for Alonso, his anticipated return to McLaren would also start out as a quest to get one of the sport's most successful teams back to the top.

The arrival of Honda as engine supplier, means there would be plenty of work to do over the Winter but any predictions as to where the Woking team will be on the grid next year would only be speculative at best.

Vettel in red an incredible sight

High profile driver moves like this don't come around too often in F1, whereas for most teams now it is a case of how much backing a driver has or if he has the speed to make up for a lack of funds, when the top drivers move the devil is in the detail.

For each man their move or potential move comes with pitfalls but when Sebastian Vettel dons the red overalls for pre-season testing next year it will make for an incredible sight indeed. 

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