Alonso gave up a little bit, says Ecclestone

By Alan Baldwin

LONDON (Reuters) - Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone has expressed disappointment with Fernando Alonso's performance at Ferrari and suggested the Spaniard was looking for a move earlier in the year.

"I've been a little bit disappointed in Fernando because I'm a big supporter of him and of Ferrari," Ecclestone, 83, wrote in a foreword to the official Formula One season review.

"I thought he gave up a little bit which is proof that he was looking for another team.

"I don't know whether the team is not competitive because of him or because the people who are running the team aren't getting the job done," added Ecclestone.

Alonso finished the season as overall runner-up to Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel who clinched his fourth title in four years to become the youngest quadruple champion.

McLaren made no secret earlier in the season that they would jump at a chance to sign Alonso, who had one turbulent year with them in 2007, should he become available.

Ferrari, third overall in the constructors' standings, have described their season as one to forget while praising Alonso for his results in a car that was not even second best.

Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo did, however, reprimand Alonso on the Spaniard's birthday in July for unflattering comments he made about his car.

Ecclestone said he had always predicted Vettel would be 'what he is', with the German winning the last nine races of the year and 13 in total to equal seven-times champion Michael Schumacher's 2004 record.

"You probably have to say he's number one of the drivers I've known," added the Briton whose involvement with the sport goes back to the 1950s.

He also singled out Kimi Raikkonen, the 2007 champion who will be Alonso's team mate at Ferrari next season after leaving Lotus.

"This year I suppose I have to call Kimi the star driver, with the equipment he has," said Ecclestone of the Finn who left Lotus after complaining he had not received his wages. "I think he was motivated on hope that he was going to get paid.

"He's a good guy to have in a team, good for us, good for the team. He's super, he's a racer."

Pirelli, who caused many of the season's headlines with exploding tyres at Silverstone and complaints about how quickly their rubber wore out, also received a glowing report from Ecclestone.

"Pirelli did a wonderful job for us," he said. "I told them we don't want tyres that last the race, we want tyres that nobody knows how they are going to last. We've got that too with the new engines next year."

Formula One is switching from the V8 engines to a new V6 turbocharged unit with energy recovery systems.

Ecclestone has long been a critic of the new units, fearing that the different noise will alienate the paying public, and he returned to the fray in the review.

"I still think what we have now is good, I don't think there was any need to change it," he said.

(Editing by Tim Collings)

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