sport

Ferrari deny driver exit rumours

Ferrari president Luca Di Montezemolo has hit out at suggestions Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen will leave the team at the end of the season.

Both former world champions have reportedly claimed they could depart the Italian marque following a largely disappointing year.

Raikkonen, who rejoined the team from Lotus in September, has amassed just 27 points but speculation around a potential retirement has been quashed.

For two-time world champion Alonso the question is whether he will remain loyal to Ferrari despite that lack of competitiveness at the front of the field but Di Montezemolo has praised both men and insists they will honour their contracts next season.

"We are lucky to have two great champions, who are working with the whole team to get back to being competitive again," he told the official Ferrari website.

"Of course, as is the case every summer, there is unfounded gossip about alleged problems with senseless rumours bandied about, such as the ones relating to Alonso's contract. We know that the summer heat always produces silly stories.

"Our drivers must now relax in order to return in top form. The season is still long and we need Fernando and Kimi to be in great shape."

Alonso has finished in the points in every race so far this season but has yet to record a victory and sits fourth in the drivers' standings - 87 points behind leader Nico Rosberg.

Ferrari have not won the constructors' championship since 2008, with Raikkonen the last driver to win the title for the team a year earlier.

But Di Montezemolo believes the right steps are being taken to put the team on a more even keel with the likes of Red Bull and Mercedes, who have dominated the previous five seasons.

"We are making in-depth changes on both the organisational side, in our approach and culture," he added.

"We have taken important decisions and have made significant progress, even if, at the moment, the results of all this work are not always visible.

"The aim is to get back to being as competitive as we were before in the shortest possible time, while at the same time putting everything in place so that we can embark on another winning cycle."