ABU DHABI (Reuters) - Fernando Alonso revealed on Thursday that he had doubts about staying at Ferrari even last year and had told former chairman Luca Di Montezemolo months ago that he knew he wanted out.
“It was not a special moment of the year that I opened my eyes,” the Spaniard told reporters at Formula One’s season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
“Last year I had some doubts about 2014. I knew that it was a big change of regulations so I thought it was the best thing to check how the 2014 new turbo era was going for Ferrari.”
He was speaking after Ferrari announced his departure, a move that has been flagged up for months in the paddock, and the arrival of Germany’s quadruple world champion Sebastian Vettel from Red Bull.
”I had a very close relationship with president Montezemolo,“ said Alonso. ”We talked every week and we, more or less, agreed that if this year we were not competitive again, maybe I could think of different options.
“When the summer break arrived I said maybe it was time to sit with the president and say, if for them it’s OK, I would like to go.”
Montezemolo himself left Ferrari in October.
Ferrari are facing their first year since 1993 without a win, having last tasted victory when Alonso won his home race in May 2013.
The Spaniard had joined the team hoping to add to his two championships but has instead finished overall runner-up three times in the last four seasons.
“In September I said maybe it was the best thing to say bye-bye if it was possible,” said Alonso. “I have to be happy, I have to be motivated, I need to love what I am doing. And in September I felt it was not the case.”
Alonso, who had also talked earlier in the year of extending his Ferrari contract well beyond 2016 but is now expected to join McLaren, recognised the Italian team could have refused to let him go and thanked them for agreeing to his wishes.
He will wear a special helmet on Sunday with a picture of a pitstop on one side, the Italian flag in the middle and signatures of all the team on the other side as a mark of respect to them.
“I stop as a Ferrari driver but from Monday I am a Ferrari supporter,” said the Spaniard.
Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Justin Palmer