Alonso staying at Ferrari to 2016

Barcelona: Fernando Alonso said he planned to see out his Formula One career at Ferrari after the Italian team announced on Thursday that they had extended the double world champion`s contract to the end of 2016.

The Spaniard, who won his titles with Renault in 2005 and 2006, is in his second season with the sport`s oldest, most successful and glamorous team.

The 29-year-old won on his Ferrari debut in Bahrain last year and ended the season as runner-up to Red Bull`s Sebastian Vettel after taking the title battle down to the wire in Abu Dhabi.

"It is a great pleasure to have renewed our agreement with a driver who has always demonstrated a winning mentality even in the most difficult circumstances," said Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo in a statement ahead of Alonso`s home grand prix at the Circuit de Catalunya.

"Fernando has all the required qualities, both technically and personally to play a leading role in the history of Ferrari and I hope he will be enriching it with further wins very soon."

Alonso is currently fifth overall, 52 points behind Vettel after four races.

Vettel, 23, is gunning for his fourth win of the season this weekend but Alonso has refused to be downcast about his championship hopes after mounting a strong comeback last year in the face of similar adversity.

"I am very happy to have reached this agreement," said the Spaniard, who finished third in Turkey two weeks ago for his first podium of the season.

"I immediately felt comfortable within Ferrari and now it feels to me like a second family. I have the utmost faith in the men and women who work in Maranello and in those who lead them.”

"It is therefore natural for me to decide to extend my relationship in the long term like this, with a team at which I will no doubt end my Formula One career one day," added the Spaniard, who started his F1 career with the Italian MInardi team in 2001.

Ferrari did not mention Felipe Massa, Alonso`s current team mate. However Montezemolo said last week that the Brazilian had a contract for next year and would be staying.

Bureau Report

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