Fernando Alonso is still being touted as a future Ferrari driver despite the Italian team having signed up Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa until the end of 2010.
Spanish Banco Santander apparently wants to get back together with Spain’s F1 hero Fernando Alonso. Dieter Rencken in the Autosport Journal (sub. req.) explains how Alonso might yet elbow Raikkonen aside:
Would Santander be satisfied with the patently underperforming Kimi when it really craves Fernando as logo bearer? If rumours doing the rounds after Alonso’s sensational win in Singapore have any legs, Santander could see its wishes fulfilled sooner rather than later.
Allegedly the bank has offered to buy out the full balance of Raikkonen’s contract (two years at an estimated $50m per annum) and fund Alonso’s similar demands for the same period – in addition to its title sponsorship of the Italian team, and at least two race sponsorships.
According to the source the deal has already been done, and could be announced within weeks…
But Alan Henry writing for Autocar reckons Santander will stick with McLaren because of the PR value of Lewis Hamilton:
Abbey is to be entirely re-branded Santander over the next couple of years, as will be the recently-acquired Alliance & Leicester and Bradford & Bingley businesses.
You have to ask yourself the following question: if you were planning a renewed commercial assault on UK High Street business over the next couple of years, would you want it based around Felipe Massa? Kimi Raikkonen? Or Lewis Hamilton?
Where Santander choose to put their money could have a significant bearing on who gets some of F1’s most coveted drives in the future.