|Rediff India Abroad Home | All the sections|
Alonso poised to become youngest double champion
October 21, 2006 15:27 IST
Fernando Alonso can take one of Michael Schumacher's many records on Sunday by becoming Formula One's youngest double world champion.
Whether the 25-year-old Renault racer can prise other milestones from the most successful driver the sport has ever known remains doubtful.
Pat Symonds, the Renault master strategist who guided Schumacher to his first two titles with Benetton before the German moved to Ferrari, believes Alonso has the talent but that is unlikely to be enough.
"Has he got what it takes? Yes, I think he has," he said of the Spaniard at the title-deciding Brazilian Grand Prix, Schumacher's last race before retirement.
"There are many similarities between Michael and Fernando and those similarities go beyond just being able to drive the car fast.
"I think Fernando and Michael are both very good at reading a race, they know when to go quickly and when to look after things," continued Symonds.
"He has the capability of doing it (beating Schumacher's records), but one of the interesting things about any competitive sport is that performance is relative.
"Not taking anything away from the achievements of Ferrari or Michael, but I think the rest of us were really asleep for a few years and if that were to happen again, then yes maybe Fernando can do it.
"But I think the level of competitiveness now in Formula One is such that it's unlikely to happen," added Symonds.
"I think it will be a long, long while before we see the many records that Michael has set being approached, let alone broken."
Alonso needs just one point to secure the title, even if Schumacher wins, in Sunday's season-ender at Interlagos. He then leaves Renault for McLaren, former champions who have not won all season.
Schumacher did something similar at the end of 1995, leaving Benetton at the age of 26 and after two titles in a row to join Ferrari, then a slumbering giant that had won only two races in five seasons.
Since then, the German has won 72 times for Ferrari, clinching an unprecedented five titles in a row from 2000 to 2004 to stand as the only seven-times champion. If he wins on Sunday, it will be the 92nd of his career.
Alonso cannot hope for such dominance, particularly at a team that believes firmly in giving both of its drivers equal opportunities and at a time when rule stability promises closer competition than ever next year.
But he will be left as Formula One's only active champion, as well as the man who dethroned Schumacher in 2005 to become the youngest ever title winner.
His confidence and maturity have grown noticeably since he last raced in Brazil.
"I know how to do it and I know how I enjoyed last year winning and how to repeat and how to defend number one on my car," he said.
"The experience you have in one important year, like you have with your first championship, this you never forget and you use in the rest of your career."
Formula One: The Complete Coverage