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Alonso becomes youngest F1 champion

Now Fernando Alonso must find something else to aim for in Formula One.

india Updated: Sep 26, 2005 20:42 IST
Associated Press
Associated Press

Now Fernando Alonso must find something else to aim for in Formula One.

He became the series' youngest title winner by finishing third in the Brazilian Grand Prix on Sunday, having already been the youngest race winner and pole position winner.

The Spanish 24-year-old and his Renault needed only a podium finish in the Brazilian race, which was won by Juan Pablo Montoya of McLaren-Mercedes.

"I am the youngest champion in Formula One and now I need to find new targets because this one is done," Alonso said. "This is very important for me, my friends, my country and my family. In 2003, he became the youngest to take a pole position in Formula One at 21 and followed it with a race victory at 22 a few months later. Now he is champion.

"It was always a dream to win the Formula One title, it's the maximum that I have ever achieved in my life. "It was a dream come true. For any racing driver it is."

Montoya's teammate, Kimi Raikkonen, the only other driver who was in contention for the championship, finished second at the 4.3-kilometer (2.6-mile) Interlagos circuit in Sao Paulo. Michael Schumacher , whose five-year reign as Formula One champion ended, was fourth.

Raikkonen had to finish fifth or better and hope Alonso, did not complete the race.

When Alonso crossed the line, he was the 2005 world champion. He shouted "Yeah!" several times into the team radio as he crossed the line and waved his fists.

He calmly got out of the car and then jumped on top of the right front tire and shouted again with both arms outstretched. He jumped in glee off the car and ran to hug his teammates. On the podium, while the McLarens took first and second, the real celebration was with Alonso in third.

Alonso now has a 23-point lead with two races to go, 117-94 over Raikkonen.

"He deserves it. Whoever has the most points deserves it," Raikkonen said. "We lost this year but we will try again next year. "Of course it is disappointing not to fight for the championship. This is never nice but congratulations to Fernando for the championship."

Alonso acknowledged the threat from Raikkonen throughout the season, especially when Raikkonen won three of the last four races. "Thanks to Kimi this world title is special," Alonso said. Schumacher acknowledged the new champion with a hug and handshake while Alonso was giving interviews.

"I congratulate Fernando and the team on winning the title," Schumacher said. "They have done a great job over the season. I saw a mechanic who worked with me before and he was close to tears. "It was moving to see him and it's nice to see how they are happy and they really have done a super job all year." Alonso turned 24 on July 27. Brazil's Emerson Fittipaldi was a year older when he won the first of his two world titles in 1972. The race was seconds old when Antonio Pizzonia, Mark Webber and David Coulthard were involved in a crash. The safety car went out just as Raikkonen passed Fisichella to take over third. That closed the gaps.

The racing resumed entering the third lap and Montoya overtook Alonso for first.

Alonso did not care too much but had to be careful. "I knew Juan Pablo was quicker. I knew I had no chance to fight because today was no risk," Alonso said. "It was not easy, I was extremely careful in overtaking. Every one was a risky moment." Montoya moved away and, by 10 laps, he had a 4.1-second lead over Alonso with Raikkonen in third.

The gap stayed there until the end of the 22nd lap when Alonso pitted and lost second to Raikkonen.

Raikkonen led briefly when Montoya went into the pits first. After 35 laps, the two McLarens were comfortably in front of Alonso, who needed only a third to be world champion and was not threatened by Schumacher in fourth.

The second round of pit stops began at lap 48 with Alonso. The McLarens stayed out 10 laps longer with Montoya first in followed by Raikkonen.

It was Montoya's seventh career victory and third of the season, helping to give McLaren the constructors' lead by two points over Renault, 164-162.

"Finally we got a one-two we deserved since the beginning of year," Montoya said.

On lap 60, Raikkonen came out of the pits just behind Montoya with Alonso third, 25 seconds back. The race ended after 71 laps. "The last two or three laps, you start to hear noises and you are a bit worried," Alonso said. "When I crossed the line, I realized everything was done."

The next race is the Japanese Grand Prix on Octber 9.

First Published: Sep 26, 2005 20:42 IST