DECEMBER 9, 2005

The world according to Alonso

An interview with the World Champion.

Fernando Alonso, Chinese GP 2005
© The Cahier Archive

Since clinching the title for Renault in China, the young world champion has been enjoying the fruits of his success. Here, he talks to us about how the last two months have been.

Fernando, we haven't seen much of you since China. How are things?

I have had some good weeks! Some fun with my family and friends, and remembering the special times we had this year. This is the right time to enjoy it, because maybe there won't be so much again in the future, so I have to enjoy the moment.

What is your best memory from the season?

There are so many. I think Brazil will stay as the day of my life. China was a special moment too. And the French Grand Prix, Renault's home race, winning in front of thousands of fans, they are all unforgettable.

Take us back to Brazil. What was going through your mind on the last lap?

I was thinking about the tyres! They were on the limit, and I remember asking my engineer Rod how far behind Schumacher was because I didn't want to lose third place in the final few metres. Then, finally, I saw the last corner.

The first thing you did was thank the team. Was that important to you?

It was fundamental. If I achieved my dream this year, it is because hundreds of people have worked relentlessly behind the scenes. Everybody has given that little bit extra that made the difference. So I told them over the radio: we are all champions. I meant it.

You had a strange season - very aggressive in the opening races, then conservative in the summer. Was it difficult to drive like that?

Honestly? Yes. But I had to think about the big prize. I could have taken risks to win each race, but I had to think about the wider picture. We made a good start to the year, then controlled the performance during the summer.

What did that mean, in reality?

Managing situations differently. With Montoya in Brazil and Silverstone, I lifted off because of the championship. But that all changed in Suzuka and China.

Was that manoeuvre on Michael Schumacher in Japan your best of the year?

For sure. It was a big risk move, maybe too much in fact, but very satisfying.

How satisfying was the performance in China?

It was great because we won, we beat McLaren on their level and were up there when we needed to be. Before, they were ahead because we were defending the championship. Then we took more risks with the chassis and engine and showed we were equal.

Since the end of the season, some have suggested you were not the best driver this season. How does that affect you?

I think it is normal, because people always say this at the end of a championship. When Hakkinen won with McLaren, they said Michael was best but he did not have the car. It was the same with Senna in the 1990s, when Williams dominated but it was said Senna would have won in that car. But to win, you need to be in the best car, at the best moment: it is a combination. This year was the moment, the right car was the Renault, and the driver is me.

So what's next for you?

I do one day of testing next week in Spain, to find about the 2006 engine power, then we begin with the new car in January. I am taking nothing for granted because every team starts from zero again, but I think we are preparing very well at the moment.