WORLD champion Fernando Alonso will quit Renault once he has defended his Formula One title next season after accepting a "too good to miss" offer to drive for McLaren from 2007.
It is a very strange move for Fernando to sign onto another team a season in advance. Will this hurt his prospects of defending his title? I don't think we will find out until a few races into next year.
McLaren signs Alonso for 2007 - Fox Sports
I think this move has a lot to do with an announcement made by McLaren last week in regards to naming rights sponsorship in 2007.
VODAFONE, which quit recently as Manchester United's shirt sponsor, will join the McLaren Formula One team from 2007.
The move is a blow for Ferrari but a powerful vote of confidence in F1's future.
With F1 divided and carmakers still threatening a "rival: series from 2008, the Mercedes-powered team and mobile phone giant announced a long-term deal overnight that could be one of the sport's biggest yet.
No financial details were given but team boss Ron Dennis said the agreement is for 10 years with a break clause after five years.
Vodafone's existing contract with Ferrari, not as a title sponsor, is worth an estimated $40 million a year to the former champion.
"We have similar levels of investment but many more rights and flexibility to build our brand for the future," said Vodafone's chief marketing officer Peter Bamford.
Fernando is in very high demand by the media at present and Vodafone want a face to put to their campaign. Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello are getting on a bit and don't appeal to the SMS generation as much as Alonso does.
Vodafone to sponsor McLaren - Fox Sports
What this means for Kimi Raikkonen and Juan Pablo Montoya is unknown at present, but Kimi has been linked with a post-Schumacher Ferrari seat. With Schumacher talking about retirement after his pretty horrible year in F1 this year, 2007 could be a good year for Kimi to move to Ferrari after all the new engine, aerodynamic and tyre rules bedded down by then. Kimi could walk into a winning team.