Andretti: Ferrari could lose Alonso over form
10 April 2014 – Former World Champion Mario Andretti has suggested that Fernando Alonso could be tempted to leave Ferrari, as the Italian marque continues to struggle in its quest for a first championship crown since 2008.
Alonso, contesting his fifth season at Ferrari, struggled to a ninth place finish in Bahrain, just ahead of new team-mate Kimi Räikkönen, who remains the outfit's most recent individual title winner with his 2007 triumph.
"Ferrari cannot be fighting for the final point. It's not good for Ferrari and it's not good for Formula 1," Andretti, who claimed his world title with Lotus in 1978, explained during an exclusive interview with GPUpdate.net.
"For some reason or another Ferrari needs to be in the battle. Mercedes is an iconic brand, no question, but when it comes to motor racing and Formula 1 especially Ferrari is the yardstick somewhat. They need to be up front. But they know it. You can tell that everyone is frustrated, beginning with Luca di Montezemolo. I think the drivers are using every bit of restraint not to express themselves. You can't really criticise, as we all know…
"They have a job ahead of them. I think the whole package needs help. You could see in Bahrain that Force India, Red Bull and Williams are all definitely ahead of them. I don't know how quickly they can recover, but there's a lot of work for them to do. From that standpoint, I hope that they can pull something out of the hat."
And if the situation does not improve in the near future, Andretti can see Alonso switching to a rival team.
"I wouldn't be surprised, quite honestly," Andretti went on to explain. "He's still at the top of his game and he cannot afford to lose too many seasons. So I'm sure if the proper opportunity comes up he'll consider it.
"When Lewis [Hamilton] made the decision to go to Mercedes, lots of people were saying, 'What the hell is he thinking?' But look at what has happened. You never know what the next opportunity could be at the very top. And once [Alonso] becomes free of the contract [with Ferrari] I'm sure he'll get plenty of calls to consider."
Alonso's contract with Ferrari, last renewed back in 2011, expires at the end of the 2016 campaign.
A full, wide-ranging interview with Mario Andretti will be available at GPUpdate.net on Friday