Ferrari's Luca di Montezemolo says Sebastian Vettel would be preferred choice to replace Fernando Alonso

President would rather have World Champion than Lewis Hamilton

Last Updated: 22/12/12 8:16am

Ferrari President Luca di Montezemolo has named World Champion Sebastian Vettel as their preference ahead of Lewis Hamilton should they ever need to replace Fernando Alonso.

The Red Bull driver has been repeatedly linked to Ferrari this season, with talk of a pre-contract for 2014, although Vettel has denied the suggestion on more than one occasion.

However, speaking at Ferrari's Maranello factory on Thursday, Montezemolo was quick to express his admiration for the 25-year-old German.

"If for whatever reason Fernando Alonso were to leave one day, maybe because he wants to retire in Hawaii with his girlfriend, then I want Vettel," the Gazzetta dello Sport quoted him as saying.

"Sebastian is a potential Ferrari driver for the future."

Whether Vettel ever partners Alonso remains to be seen as Montezemolo has previously said that he did not want to have "two roosters in the same hen house".

Rather, the 65-year-old wants two drivers "who race for Ferrari and not for themselves".

Montezemolo named Alonso, Vettel and Lewis Hamilton as the three best F1 drivers but said he preferred Vettel to Hamilton "because he's younger and hasn't been around so many teams".

Hamilton, the 2008 World Champion, will be racing for Mercedes next year after six years with McLaren. He turns 28 next month.

Montezemolo added that he first became aware of Vettel, who is now the sport's youngest ever triple World Champion, thanks to former Ferrari driver Michael Schumacher.

"It was Schumacher who pointed him out to me a few years ago, as he knew him from the time when Sebastian was still racing karts," he added. "I have to admit Michael was right but having said that, I am immensely happy to have Alonso in our team!"

Double World Champion Alonso, 31, has a contract with Ferrari until at least the end of 2016.

"With too many stars you have problems. We have proof of that when they have been together, Alonso and Hamilton, in McLaren," Montezemolo told Sky Sports News.

"I like Vettel. He's a good man, a good driver. He's younger with a lot of talent. We will see. I always think that we like to have a number one and a number one likes to drive at least once in his career for Ferrari.

"But this is not a problem of today. We are extremely pleased with Felipe (Massa), we are extremely pleased with Fernando."