Vettel to Replace Alonso at Ferrari Formula One Team

Ferrari hired Sebastian Vettel to replace Fernando Alonso, who is quitting the Formula One team after five years without a title.

Vettel, a 27-year-old German who won four straight championships through 2013 with Red Bull, agreed to a three-year contract starting next year, Ferrari said in a statement.

While Alonso didn’t disclose his plans, Spanish sports newspaper AS said Nov. 8 that the 33-year-old will move to McLaren with the “biggest contract” in Formula One history. The Spaniard won the 2005 and 2006 titles with Renault.

“It was a difficult decision to take, but a carefully considered one from start to finish,” Alonso said in a Ferrari statement.

Formula One teams are preparing for their last race, Nov. 23 in Abu Dhabi. Next season starts in March.

Alonso’s stint at Ferrari coincided with dominant periods by Red Bull Racing and Mercedes, and he won six races in the last four seasons. He is fifth in this season’s standings. Fourth-placed Vettel’s form has dipped this year and he trails Red Bull teammate Daniel Ricciardo.

Moving to Ferrari “means the dream of a lifetime has come true,” Vettel said in the statement. “When I was a kid, Michael Schumacher in the red car was my greatest idol and now it’s an incredible honor to finally get the chance to drive a Ferrari.”

Schumacher, who suffered a brain injury while skiing last year, won Formula One titles with the Benetton team in 1994 and 1995, and took five consecutive championships with Ferrari from 2000 to 2004. He left the series after 2012 following a three-season comeback with the Mercedes team.

Championship leader Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg are the only drivers who can still win the 2014 title.

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