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Alonso celebrates as title dream comes true

Alonso, the youngest champion in Formula One history, barely 24 years old, commanded all the attention after finishing third in the Brazilian Grand Prix.

india Updated: Sep 26, 2005 20:42 IST

Ferrari's Michael Schumacher had to wait in line on Sunday as he tried to congratulate Formula One's new champion Fernando Alonso.

The Renault youngster was already on the telephone to the King of Spain.

The youngest champion in Formula One history, barely 24 years old, commanded all the attention after finishing third in the Brazilian Grand Prix and taking the crown with two races to spare.

Schumacher, the most successful driver the sport has seen with seven titles and 84 wins, was eclipsed by the softly-spoken Spaniard who punched the air with both fists as he crossed the finish line.

As the back of the T-shirt worn by Alonso's number one mechanic proclaimed, it was a case of 'Schumacher Who?'. The man from Oviedo, in the north of Spain, had fulfilled a dream and was savouring his triumph.

After parking his car, he stood and bellowed his satisfaction before blowing kisses to the crowd and disappearing into a crowd of cheering mechanics.

"It sounds great," he said, when asked how he felt to be introduced for the first time as Fernando Alonso, world champion.

"For sure it is a dream come true for me.

"I came from a country with no tradition in Formula One and I fight alone basically as I've had no help from anyone in all my career," he said.

"I arrived in Formula One thanks to the results in the previous categories.

"Now I think this title is the maximum I can achieve in my life and in my career and it's thanks to three or four people, not more than that."

Alonso's career has been meteoric by Formula One standards, rising from a debut with humble Minardi in 2001 to become Spain's first race winner and first world champion, but he shrugged off suggestion that he was the face of a new era.

"Every year, every car is different and sometimes it is my name in the newspapers and sometimes Kimi (Raikkonen) and sometimes (Jenson) Button.

"This year was my year, with no problems at all and luck always with me...everything came to me this year but in the next races and next year it will be maybe different," he said.

Alonso had led since the second race of the year, in Malaysia, showing remarkable maturity as well as contained aggression on the track as the season progressed and Raikkonen's challenge was blunted by McLaren's poor reliability.

Alonso, who said he did not plan to return home until after the final race in China next month, showed no sign of any pre-race nerves.

"Last night I slept like every night and this morning I had breakfast and I had a meeting to discuss race strategy. I slept again before the race.

"I was not really stressed at all this weekend. But obviously I am extremely happy now and ready to fight a little less conservatively in the final races and enjoy them a little bit more."

While the Spaniard has an unassailable 23 point lead with two races remaining, Renault allowed McLaren to take a two point advantage in the constructors' standings.

Winning that title is the next challenge for Alonso.

"It is every racing driver's dream to be Formula One champion," he said. "I am 24 so after this I think there is not much to do.

"I am the youngest world champion in Formula One and now I need to find new targets because this one is old."

First Published: Sep 26, 2005 20:42 IST