Woking, Great Britain: The 2005 Formula One World Champion Fernando Alonso and Vodafone McLaren Mercedes will be joining forces for the 2007 Formula One season. Today’s announcement comes only five days after Vodafone and McLaren Mercedes confirmed Vodafone’s title sponsorship effective from January 2007 and forms an important part of the team’s long term strategic partnership.
“Its great that our strong belief in the strength and competitiveness of the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes package has been further endorsed by the World Champion,” said Ron Dennis, Team Principal and Chairman and CEO of the McLaren Group. “We always make it clear that we want to be the best and the only way of achieving this objective is by attracting the best people, the best drivers and the best sponsors. To be able to announce Vodafone as only McLaren’s third title partner in more than 30 years and Fernando’s employment within only a few days is fantastic news for the team, our Partners, Formula One and the fans.”
“We are in discussions with our current drivers’ Kimi Raikkonen and Juan Pablo Montoya regarding the 2007 season,” continues Ron Dennis. “Both Juan Pablo and Kimi are extremely talented, professional and competitive Formula One drivers and they have and will continue to concentrate on our joint challenge for the Championships.”
“Fernando and McLaren Mercedes wanted to make the announcement as soon as possible in a controlled and professional manner to allow McLaren Mercedes, Fernando, Kimi and Juan Pablo to focus on the preparations for the 2006 season,” states Ron Dennis. “Our aim for next year remains absolutely clear to everybody within the team – we want to win races and be in a position where we might have two Formula One World Champions driving for Vodafone McLaren Mercedes in 2007.”
“To become part of a team with such a desire to succeed and passion for performance is a dream come true for any Formula One driver,” said 2005 Formula One World Champion Fernando Alonso. “I’m very excited about 2007 and the fantastic opportunity to drive for Vodafone McLaren Mercedes. It will be a new beginning for me and a tremendous challenge and from what I have heard about this exciting new Partnership there is something to look forward to. Obviously I will be sad to leave Renault but sometimes possibilities come along which are just too good to miss. I’m pleased that we are able to make this announcement already now as it will allow my current team and I to focus 100 per cent on defending the World Championships next year.”
This opens up the obvious prospect of Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso driving for the same team in 2007, an idea many Formula 1 fans would relish. Some would call them the two fastest drivers on the grid and the pairing could make for a titanic season-long battle the likes of which we have not seen in far too long a time.
McLaren have never shied away from signing two very strong and equally-matched drivers – a characteristic that has endeared them to quite a few fans. For the best example we have only to look back to 1988 – an epic season when McLaren had the strongest car and a driver pairing of none other than the clinical Alain Prost and the lightning Ayrton Senna. The Doctor and The Professor were each-other’s only competition for the championship and many a Formula 1 supporter will remember the wheel-to-wheel racing until the day they die. Let us hope that we are in for another such season…
Edu de Jager