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Home News Alonso is youngest Formula One world champion

Alonso is youngest Formula One world champion

Published on 26/09/2005

26 September 2005

SAO PAULO — Spain’s 24-year-old racing phenomenon, Fernando Alonso, became the world’s youngest Formula One champion when he finished third in the Brazilian Grand Prix.

Alonso, driving for Renault and starting the race on pole position, only needed to finish in the top three on the Interlagos track at the Jose Carlos Pace Autodrome in Sao Paulo to take the championship held for the past five years by Germany’s Michael Schumacher, who finished fourth in his Ferrari.

Alonso told EFE that he did not think about the fact that he was going to be the champion, even when it became clear to him that Schumacher could not knock him from the third-place spot, “until (he) crossed the finish line”.

“So much was riding on the car not failing, on the tires and everything, that I didn’t think about anything other than crossing the finish line. Then, I realized I was the world champion,” he said.

“Today was a normal day, like any other. I slept well, I ate breakfast, came to the track. I met with my engineers and took a little nap. … Nothing got me nervous,” Alonso said.

“I knew that anything could happen … The only thing I wanted was to finish … the 71 laps,” he said, adding that the car he was driving “was not perfect”.

“This year was my year, during which I had no problems. The team has helped a lot. But it’s clear that the next races or next year can be very different,” Alonso said.

Sao Paulo native Emerson Fittipaldi, previously the youngest Formula One winner, was just a year older than the soft-spoken Alonso – who punched the air with both fists when he crossed the finish line – when he won the first of his two world titles for Brazil in 1972.

King Juan Carlos telephoned Alonso to congratulate him, telling the driver it was a “great day for all Spaniards,” the royal household told EFE.

Prince Felipe, the heir to the Spanish throne, also spoke personally with the young driver by phone, as did prime minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero.

A close friend of Alonso, Luis Garcia Abad, who is also the driver’s representative for non-racing matters, told EFE that the new world champion had received more than 300 congratulatory phone calls from assorted well-wishers within an hour.

Earlier this month, Alonso was awarded the Prince of Asturias Prize for Sports.

The country has been gripped with “Formula One fever” ever since the young driver began to win on this year’s circuit.

After his Sunday victory, thousands of people all across Spain, in particular in Alonso’s home town of Oviedo and the northern region of Asturias, poured into the streets for huge and spontaneous celebrations at auditoriums and on public plazas.

The sky blue and yellow of the Asturias flag, thousands of which were in evidence at the gigantic parties, are also the Renault racing team’s colours.

Since the second race of the season in Malaysia in March, Alonso has been leading in the run for the championship, displaying both maturity and self-confidence.

This is his first season with Renault, but already he has become the youngest driver ever to start a grand prix on pole position and the youngest race winner.

But the truly impressive feat is that he has won without having the fastest car, evidence of the former teenage go-kart champ’s well-timed aggressiveness and split-second reflexes.

As a result of his excellent racing instincts, over the past several years, Alonso has risen like a rocket in his Formula One career, debuting with a Minardi in 2001 to become Spain’s first race winner and finally first world champion.

“I dedicate this title to my family and my close friends … Also I want to thank all the fans and Spain,” Alonso added after receiving the race trophy.

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news