Fernando Alonso says he is absolutely sure he will finish his Formula 1 career at the Ferrari team, despite having just joined the Maranello squad. The two-time World Champion has joined Ferrari to replace Finn Kimi Raikkonen as Felipe Massa's teammate from this year, having agreed a three-year contract.
Although the Spaniard will not be able to test his new car until next month, he says he is already feeling at home, having been working with the team in his visits to the factory.
"We have had contact, especially with my race engineer and the technicians of the team," Alonso told reporters at Ferrari's media event in Italy. "We kept exchanging e-mails and phone calls and I'm always updated about the development of the car so we can be perfectly ready when the tests start in February.
"We have worked well. From day one I found myself at home at the team. There is like a family feeling from the start. When I went to Maranello I saw the passion of the people who are working at Ferrari. It is something unique in Formula 1."
When asked if he was sure he will finish his career at Ferrari, he said: "I'm 100 percent sure. For any driver, coming to Ferrari is the best thing you can do in your career. It's almost impossible to find the motivation to race for another team after racing for Ferrari, because you will never find the same environment or have the same feeling due to its history. It's a legendary team represented by the prancing horse. Of course, I feel calm now because I've achieved one of my goals."
Alonso, the 2005 and 2006 champion, admitted it will be difficult for him to win the title in his first year with Ferrari, and reckons he will need a few races before he's fully integrated at the team.
"Of course it's difficult," he said. "I know I'm going to have to adapt very quickly to the car. I only have seven, eight days of testing in February and I know that perhaps in the first three, four races we will not be 100 percent adjusted to the car and to the team. But from race three or four I'm sure we will be able to see the best version of Alonso as well as the best version of Ferrari."
The Spaniard added that he is well aware that emulating the success Michael Schumacher enjoyed with Ferrari is also a tall order.
"You always want to win, but I think seven titles is something that is nearly impossible to repeat these days," he said. "I think Formula 1 now is so close and the rules are very strict. The competition now is about two or three tenths, so winning five championships in a row, or four like Michael did, is something very difficult to repeat."
Alonso claimed he now feels much more ready to tackle the Ferrari challenge than a few years ago. "I don't know what Kimi gave to the team," he said when asked what he can bring that Raikkonen didn't. "I'm here to give the team all my professionalism, to give all my skills to drive the car, and outside of the car I know the driver must continue to work with the engineers as well for the development of the car. Also, to establish a good relationship with the fans, with the media, and so I think I'm more prepared now than when I won my championships with Renault, and also when I was with McLaren.
"Today I feel much more ready, much more prepared to tackle this challenge – which is not easy because Ferrari is known throughout the world and many expect a lot from you around the world. It could be in Japan, in Europe, in India, because Ferrari is known everywhere, and so your results have a big impact on the media and we know we have to win."