F1: Alonso brushes off McLaren interest

F1: Alonso brushes off McLaren interest

SINGAPORE - Fernando Alonso reiterated his long-term love and loyalty to Ferrari on Friday after McLaren, the Formula One team he left in acrimonious circumstances in 2007, said they would be keen to sign him.

"I repeat more or less every weekend, but I keep repeating, that I love Ferrari and I will stay in Ferrari until the end," the Spaniard, whose contract runs to the end of 2016, told reporters at the Singapore Grand Prix.

"I have three more years with Ferrari and I hope many more to come if we can extend the contract."

McLaren principal Martin Whitmarsh had told reporters earlier that his team would be in the market for the double world champion should he want to leave their Italian rivals.

"Yes, if I could," he said when asked if he wanted to sign him. "I think most teams up and down this pitlane would happily sign Fernando Alonso. He's a very talented driver.

"I expect next year our driver line-up to stay the same but we are open to anything," he added. "And in the longer term then he'd be a great asset. I think Fernando's in control of his own destiny, but we'll see."

FROTH AND EXCITEMENT

McLaren have yet to confirm their 2014 line-up, although Whitmarsh said 2009 world champion Jenson Button's deal was done, and there are lingering doubts about Mexican Sergio Perez's future with them.

"There's a lot of froth and excitement around these issues but being realistic, that's what I think will happen," Whitmarsh said when asked whether ultimately McLaren would continue with the same drivers. "But we'll see."

Whitmarsh's comments about Alonso set the media abuzz with speculation that the driver could, despite his own assurances to the contrary, leave Maranello as early as the end of the season in what would be the shock of the formula one season.

Ferrari announced last week that their 2007 champion Kimi Raikkonen was returning next year to partner Alonso in what will be a lineup of champions.

Alonso is used to having a clear number one role, and his pairing with Lewis Hamilton at McLaren in 2007 and that team's insistence on giving equal terms to both despite the Briton's rookie status, led to a breakdown in relations with then-principal Ron Dennis and the Spaniard's departure.

Alonso said on Friday that the problems at McLaren had been exaggerated.

"There were so many rumours that we had a lot of problems that year but I always say that I had no problems with anyone, it was just the philosophy of the team and especially one man in the team that is not there (now)," he said.

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