SINGAPORE (Reuters) - A frustrated Fernando Alonso reiterated his commitment to Ferrari on Thursday and took a verbal swipe at brand-damaging rumors in Italy suggesting he might swap seats with Sebastian Vettel to join Red Bull next year.
The twice Formula One champion stressed his respect and loyalty to Ferrari in a heartfelt outburst aimed at unifying the team as it steers passage through a period of management upheaval and disappointing results.
Talking to reporters ahead of the Singapore Grand Prix, a week after long-serving Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo confirmed he was stepping down next month, Alonso said he hoped Sergio Marchionne, who succeeds him, could revive the team and end a title drought dating back to 2008.
“I’ve been commenting about my future for now 13 months I think, so I have nothing new to say,” said the Spaniard.
”Sometimes, Italy creates these strange rumors, which are not helping Ferrari, which we are all here to do. It’s a much bigger brand than any individual person, or even Formula One in general.
”I respect a lot Ferrari and try to create a good group, a good atmosphere in the team - from going out to dinner, to playing basketball, to playing poker, whatever - to have a very united team, because it’s what we need and what the people expect from us driving for Ferrari and working for Ferrari.
“We know these things come from Italy, (but) it’s not really clear what is the purpose.”
Team principal Stefano Domenicali stood down in April to be replaced by Marco Mattiacci in the first major change to the management structure before Montezemolo’s departure after 23 years as president.
”There has been some days for the team with a lot of changes over the year,“ said Alonso. ”The team principal changed in April, the head of engine leaving in the summer, now the president also steps away after being so successful in Formula One.
“He (Montezemolo) was our leader for many years. Definitely it was a great time for Ferrari. I wish him good for that and for new projects. With a new president, I wish him good luck for hopefully a very successful future.”
Vettel, whose hopes of another title have been blown away by Mercedes’ success this year with team mate Daniel Ricciardo also outdriving him, stressed he was staying at Red Bull.
“I am driving for Red Bull. I have a contract so nothing has changed,” said the four-time champion German.
“It is impossible to predict the future, but surely I have been with Red Bull for a long time and have a very, very strong link to them in that regard. That hasn’t changed.”
Ferrari are without a win in 13 races this year and face the prospect of suffering their first winless season since 1993.
Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Tim Collings