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Official: Vettel replaces Alonso at Ferrari

Finally, the open secrets about Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel’s futures became officially clear on Thursday.

Ferrari announced that Spaniard Alonso and the Italian team have ended their relationship “by common consent”, opening the door for Vettel to arrive from Red Bull.

It is expected Alonso will move to McLaren, with the British team delaying an announcement for now until it has decided the identity of his Honda-powered teammate.

“In the Scuderia Ferrari roll of honour of great drivers, Fernando Alonso will always occupy a special place,” said team boss Marco Mattiacci.

Although his relationship and patience with Ferrari had clearly soured this year, the 33-year-old posted a series of tributes on his Facebook page on Thursday, and he will wear a helmet bearing the signatures of his team this weekend in Abu Dhabi.

“Today is not an easy one for me,” he said, “because even if I always look to the future with great enthusiasm and determination, at the end of this season my journey as a Ferrari driver will come to an end.

“It was a difficult decision to take, but a carefully considered one and from start to finish, my love for Ferrari was a prime consideration,” said Alonso.

Ferrari confirmed that Alonso’s successor, the quadruple world champion Vettel, has signed a three-year contract.

“The driver lineup next season will consist of Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel,” said the Maranello team.

Vettel commented: “When I was a kid, Michael Schumacher in the red car was my greatest idol and now it’s an incredible honour to finally get the chance to drive a Ferrari.”