ABU DHABI – Fernando Alonso has dropped the biggest hint yet that he is set to join McLaren for the 2015 Formula 1 season, telling NBCSN that “it will not be a surprise for anybody where I will go.”
After five years with Ferrari, it was announced today that Alonso would be leaving Maranello to make way for Sebastian Vettel in 2015, ending his contract with the team two years early.
For over a year, Alonso has been rumored to be angling for a move back to McLaren, and he confirmed today that he considered quitting Ferrari in 2013 after a difficult campaign.
“It has not been an easy decision to make,” Alonso explained. “Ferrari is the most important team in motorsport. It’s difficult to say bye-bye but I made that decision because I feel that is the best for my future and probably the best for Ferrari as well.
“It was tough, last year we had some conversations already. This year, after summer, I went to President Montezemolo and said: ‘President, I need to go. I feel that I need to go.’
“They were very understanding with the situation and with my wish. I need to say publicly again thanks to Montezemolo and to Ferrari because I had two more years on my contract and they could say no, but they showed a lot of respect on my side to understand.
“Now it’s time to move on. You can be third, fourth, and still believe that you are a Ferrari driver and feel proud, but maybe I’m strange – I want to win.”
Alonso refused to confirm what his next move would be, but told NBCSN’s Will Buxton that it will not come as a surprise to anybody, suggesting that he is indeed bound for McLaren as the entire paddock and F1 community assumes.
“I think today, it was not a surprise for anybody what we announced, and I think soon it will not be a surprise for anybody where I will go,” he said.
Following Vettel’s confirmation at Ferrari today, the driver market puzzle has taken another step towards being completed. Only four seats remain unconfirmed ahead of the final race of the year in Abu Dhabi this weekend: two at McLaren, one at Force India and one at Toro Rosso.
For Alonso though, the future appears to be clearer than ever. A return to McLaren may have been unthinkable in the past following their fall-out in 2007, but after an unfulfilling five-year spell with Ferrari, it seems to be his best remaining option for 2015.