World champion Kimi Raikkonen has extended his contract with Ferrari until the end of 2010, meaning that unless something extraordinary happens, Fernando Alonso will not be able to drive for the Scuderia for another two years at least. Felipe Massa signed a long-term contract last year that also sees himself with Ferrari until the closing of 2010. Therefore, Ferrari’s driver line-up will remain unchanged, despite all the rumours that have persisted during 2008.
Fernando Alonso has not hidden his desire to race for the Maranello team, and recently said that if Ferrari wanted to hire him, they would. However, it seems that the Italian team is still happy with their current pairing and Kimi Raikkonen has had his contract extended by a year. Although the reigning world champion doesn’t necessarily have to see out his deal (I’m sure Kimi could buy himself out), the fact he has signed on for another year strongly suggests that he wants another title or two and has reaffirmed his faith in the Italian team.
Where this leaves Alonso is anyone’s guess. The Spaniard has made it known that while he has a great deal of respect for Renault, the car simply isn’t a winner. Alonso had been rumoured to be flirting with Honda, and the pairing of Fernando with Ross Brawn would be something special. But currently, Honda are seriously struggling to even stay ahead of Force India. Although the Brackley squad are concentrating on 2009, they don’t exactly look all that appealing at the moment.
Another rumour which surfaced after the Belgian Grand Prix last week was a possible move to BMW. The Swiss-German team must appeal more to Alonso, having won a race this year and looking a little like Renault when Alonso took his maiden victory back in 2003. However, Mario Theissen is loyal to his drivers and both Nick Heidfeld and Robert Kubica have given the old Sauber squad a lot of help and some good results. Heidfeld though is having a relatively poor season and Kubica has once again spoken out against the team.
Other than staying with Renault, Alonso’s options are thinning out. I would love to see Fernando drive for Williams, but I fear they cannot afford him and already-signed Nico Rosberg. Force India are likely to not be on Alonso’s radar, Red Bull are sewn up with Mark Webber and Sebastien Vettel, as are Toyota with Jarno Trulli and Timo Glock. Currently, Scuderia Toro Rosso, Williams, Renault, BMW or Honda are Alonso’s choices.