AUSTIN, Texas (AP) Facing rapid-fire and persistent questions about his future, Ferrari’s’ Fernando Alonso would only smile and say he’s making big plans and ready to win again.
What they are exactly, he’s not ready to say.
Alonso on Thursday acknowledged speculation that the former two-time world champion could leave Ferrari after this season, his fourth with the most famous brand in motorsport.
But other than calling it ”unlikely” that he’d do something as radical as take a year off, the 33-year-old Spaniard wouldn’t budge when repeatedly pressed to give a hint of what he’ll be doing or which team he’ll drive for.
”I have a very ambitious plan in my head for my future. I think this is the best thing for Ferrari as well,” Alonso said before this weekend’s U.S. Grand Prix. ”People will be very, very excited as I am. I’m extremely happy.”
Late-season announcements of driver moves are nothing new in Formula One. But this season the series is awaiting announcements from two of its biggest stars in Alonso and Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel, the four-time defending world champion.
Vettel has already announced he’s leaving Red Bull. He has yet to say where he’ll drive in 2015, although there have been reports of a pending deal with Ferrari. Alonso is still under contract with Ferrari through next year, but has been the subject of a rumored move to McLaren, where he spent one stormy season in 2007.
Alonso seemed to enjoy the sparring with reporters probing for a hint of his destination. At one point, he scolded one who asked him why he was leaving Ferrari.
”I didn’t say that. You are saying a thing that you don’t know,” Alonso said.
But he also reflected on his years with Ferrari as a time for personal and professional growth. And he still wants to win a third world championship. McLaren is partnering with engine designer Honda next season in a bid to be competitive again in the new era of the hybrid turbo V6. McLaren and Honda had a dominant partnership in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
Alonso won world titles in 2005 and 2006 with Renault, and came close to titles in 2010 and 2012 with Ferrari. But he hasn’t won a Grand Prix since May 2013 and hasn’t factored in the title chase in two years.
”At the end of the day, winning or not winning is a matter of being in the right place at the right moment. Getting the respect of everyone sometimes has more value,” Alonso said.
”When I joined Ferrari, I didn’t have the respect I have now. I didn’t win and it was difficult, but I grew up as driver and a person as well. Definitely I want to win. I want to win a third title. I’m sure I will have the opportunity in the next years,” he said.