Speculation that Fernando Alonso could be a Ferrari driver in the future refuses to go away.
Ferrari boss Luca di Montezemolo said in April he was happy with the line-up of Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa. But now Alonso is being linked with a move to Ferrari where he would be reunited with sponsor Banco Santander.
Spanish bank Santander joined McLaren last year to coincide with Alonso’s arrival at the team in what was supposed to be a five-year deal. The bank, which runs the Abbey brand in Britain, remained with McLaren after Alonso left the team.
It wouldn’t be a surprise if they wanted to be associated with the Spanish driver. One might ask why it needs to as it has the Abbey brand in Britain which profits from the association of Lewis Hamilton.
But the Abbey brand is expected to be replaced by Santander in Britain in the future. The company has sponsored the British Grand Prix for the last two years using the Santander brand, despite the obvious potential to brand one of Silverstone’s corners ‘Abbey’.
Santander’s white-text-on-red would also be a neat fit with Ferrari. As an added bonus for the Italian team it would get to pinch a major sponsor from McLaren two years after it poached Vodafone from Ferrari.
Raikkonen and Massa both have Ferrari contracts for 2009 and Massa’s goes on until 2010. Raikkonen has hinted at an early retirement in the past and perhaps he will be stepping down from the team at the end of next year, to be replaced by Alonso?
With an eye on the future, Santander also sponsors iSport in GP2, who run Bruno Senna and Karun Chandhok.