Forget Hamilton, I'd want Vettel to replace Alonso at Ferrari, claims Di Montezemolo
18:40 GMT, 20 December 2012
Lewis Hamilton is lagging behind Sebastian Vettel on Ferrari's wishlist of a potential replacements for current team leader Fernando Alonso.
Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo revealed he is a greater admirer of Vettel's talents than those of Hamilton when asked who he would like to take over when Alonso decides to call it a day.
'If, tomorrow, Fernando would withdraw for any reason – let's say he moves to Hawaii with his girlfriend – then I would want Vettel,' said the Ferrari president to German magazine Auto Motor und Sport.
Moving on: Hamilton will race for Mercedes next season
'He is young, he has his feet on the floor, and he has an indomitable will to win. Michael Schumacher made me aware of him years ago because he knew him from his karting years. I must say, Michael was right.'
Seemingly ruling our Hamilton's chances of driving for Ferrari, di Montezemolo claimed his decision to leave McLaren for Mercedes counts against him.
Asked why he preferred Vettel to Hamilton, di Montezemolo replied: 'Because he (Vettel) is younger, and because Ferrari would be Hamilton's third team. And if you've reached your third team, your career is already in its second half.'
Even hints by Vettel that Ferrari had used 'dirty tricks' to try and derail his pursuit of a third successive world title do not seem to have dented his chances of a move to Maranello.
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'In the heat of battle you can always say something emotional,' said Di Montezemolo.
Given the increasingly fierce rivalry between Vettel and Alonso there seems little prospect of the pair sharing a garage at Ferrari until the Spaniard decides to call it a day.
And Di Montezemolo insisted he would be only too delighted if Alonso opts to see out the remaining three years of his contract with Ferrari.
He added: 'I'm incredibly happy with him. He is more than just a driver.'
Long-term contract: Alonso still has three years to run on his Ferrari deal
With Hamilton having already admitted he is unlikely to be in the title frame next season as he strives to turn Mercedes into frontrunners, the drivers' championship has all the hallmarks of being another titanic battle between Vettel and Alonso.
However, Jenson Button will hopeful of forcing his way into the title picture if McLaren can find the required reliability to go with the speed advantage they enjoyed last season.
McLaren's 2013 challenger, the Mercedes-powered MP4-28, will break cover on January 31 at a launch ceremony in the UK.