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GP Week : Issue 66
STOP PRESS: Fernando Alonso will drive for Ferrari in 2010. This rather un-shocking piece of news was nally made public in the run up to the Japanese Grand Prix, con rming the worst-kept secret in Formula 1 this season. Alonso's three year deal with Ferrari is set to see him partner Felipe Massa in 2010, with Kimi Raikkonen being bought out of his remaining year at the Scuderia -- we believe thanks in no small part to the finances of Ferrari's new-for-2010 sponsor Santander. "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," said Ferrari Team Principal Stefano Domenicali, who also confirmed that Alonso and Massa would be handed equal status at the team. Alonso, for his part, said that he had expected to join Ferrari only in 2011, but admitted that he now hoped to end his career driving for the Prancing Horse. "Hopefully I can continue as long as I want and I can finish my career here with a lot of wins," Alonso said at the Japanese Grand Prix. "I really think that Ferrari will be my last team, as I said, leaving Ferrari to change teams is a step backwards. Ferrari is more than a team and I want to finish my career there." Alonso even went as far as to insinuate that he could retire after winning a third championship, which is sure to have pleased his new bosses in Maranello no end. Raikkonen meanwhile has not ruled out quitting F1 at the end of 2009, although he is now the most in-demand driver in the paddock and is believed to have been approached by McLaren, Brawn, Toyota, Williams and Renault. McLaren is still expected to be his most likely destination however. The Finn also added weight to paddock rumours about who had paid off the final year on his Ferrari contract, and inferred that he believed the arrival of Santander as a Ferrari sponsor had hastened his departure from the team. "There are many reasons why this has happened," he said in the Suzuka paddock. "In F1, even if you have a contract, there can always be different options in life. There is not just one reason why this happened and we all reached the same decision. "I'm still happy with what I have done in making this decision and I think I will still have a good future. Usually when you make a contract, you stick with it to the end, but there were reasons why it did not work out, but I'm OK with how things have turned out." The seat's warm, 'Nando ... 8