Alonso takes title to fulfil his destiny
Monday 26 September 2005
In the end, courtesy of Montoya and Kimi Raikkonen, McLaren got their long-awaited one-two result, but the real story was all about Alonso.
After drawing his blue and yellow car into parc fermé at the end of the 71-lap event, he clambered from the cockpit and waved his arms aloft with the pure elation of a man who has realised his destiny. Then, careless that the world might be waiting to hear his story, he ran to his delirious team and embraced them warmly. It was almost the most animated moment of an otherwise unremarkable race. In response, Renault teamsters held aloft a pit board on which they had mounted the words that said it all: "Bravo Fernando Alonso, 2005 World Champion."
On the podium he poured the victory champagne into his trophy from a great height, celebrating in the way that Spaniards do when they pour their cider in the Oviedo region.
As if to wash away the final embers of Michael Schumacher's tenancy of the title, there was a brief rain shower that had abated by the time that Alonso sat in front of a microphone.
In triumph he was gracious, calm and collected, tough clearly imbued with the inner strength and sense of achievement that truly great sportsmen savour.
"I am extremely happy and it is a very emotional day for me," Alonso said. "I come from a country that has no tradition in Formula One and I had to fight alone as I had no help from anybody through my career. I think this is the maximum I can achieve and it is thanks to three or four people. No more than that."
There is about the Spaniard, 24 years and two months old, the same quiet charisma of the great Brazilian that he supersedes as the youngest champion, Emerson Fittipaldi, who was 25 years and 10 months old when he took Jackie Stewart's crown in 1972.
Like Fittipaldi, he is a trailblazer for his nation, and few doubt that he will bring a welcome dignity to his time as champion. Though Raikkonen would also have made a deserving winner, Alonso is the right man at the right time.
As McLaren finally scored their first one-two for more than five years, there was one bittersweet moment for Renault. With a tally of 18 points for their afternoon's work, McLaren moved to 164 points in the constructors' world championship, for the first time this season surpassing Renault as the leader. But the French team are still in the hunt with 162 and this is the battle that will now be the primary focus of the two remaining races.
Once Montoya had taken the lead on the third lap, he surrendered it only during pit stops, each time to Raikkonen. As long as Alonso was third, Raikkonen's mathematical chance of winning the crown had evaporated, and it was soon clear that if that was the case there was no need for Montoya to hand over the initiative, as he had in Belgium two weeks ago.
When Raikkonen made his final stop on the 59th lap, Montoya, who had refuelled five laps earlier, just came through the first corner and regained the lead as Raikkonen was emerging from the pits. For a while they went at it, but with eight laps to go it was clear that both men had reduced their pace.
Montoya duly won the race for the second successive year, and in doing so drew level with Michael Schumacher, who finished fourth, in third place in the drivers' stakes. Alonso merely had to follow them home.
In their wake, Ferrari preserved their third place in the constructors' table thanks to Schumacher's fourth and Rubens Barrichello's sixth, while Alonso's team-mate Giancarlo Fisichella had a disappointing run to fifth. It was also a disappointing race for Jenson Button, who started fourth but could only manage seventh place in his BAR-Honda.
Alonso's success aside, the only other major talking point was a startline shunt that brought out the safety car for two laps after David Coulthard tried to squeeze his Red Bull between the Williams-BMW cars of Mark Webber and Antonio Pizzonia.
The Scot and the Brazilian (in another probationary race for his team) were eliminated on the spot; Webber rejoined the race 25 laps down after a long stop for repairs.
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