Congratulations Alonso & Renault! 23 Oct 2006
French team ecstatic after retaining both titles in Brazil
Last season they survived a late surge from McLaren and Kimi Raikkonen. This year it was Michael Schumacher and Ferrari applying the pressure. Yet again, however, Fernando Alonso and Renault rose to the challenge and held their nerve to become world champions - drivers' and constructors' - for a second time in succession.
Renault's achievement in becoming double world champions, twice in a row, has nothing to do with luck, said team President, Alain Dassas, after Sundays season finale in Sao Paulo. We have done it because we were quicker and more reliable than our rivals - and because we were able to raise our game compared to 2005 by scoring more points and finishing more races.
Renault have indeed not had the fastest car of late - theyve won just one race from the last nine - and in the title decider at Interlagos Alonso was again powerless to stop a runaway victory for Ferraris Felipe Massa.
However, reliability and consistency once more won through - Alonsos second place secured his second drivers championship, and with Giancarlo Fisichella finishing sixth, it was enough for Renault to stay ahead of Ferrari in the constructors standings, much to the delight of team principal Flavio Briatore.
It was an incredible fight with Ferrari this year, he said. But we have done the job, and we deserve these titles. The whole team, from Fernando to all our colleagues in Enstone and Viry, have had a very difficult time this year. There have been many ups and downs, but we have never backed down, we never gave up and we are champions.
As a team, we made fewer mistakes than our rivals, and Fernando made fewer mistakes than Michael. We must not forget Giancarlo, who has had a very strong season, and his points have made the difference between finishing first and second.
Sundays Interlagos race was Alonsos last for Renault and the team admitted they will be sad to see their star driver go as he heads off to new employers McLaren for 2007, taking the coveted Number One with him.
As for our departing champion Fernando, he deserves this second title like no other, commented Dassas. He has been an extraordinary part of our team, and we will miss him. However, Formula One is all about reacting to change, and meeting new challenges. We will begin a new adventure next year, and that is the thrilling challenge of this sport.
Renaults driver line-up for their 2007 title defence will be Giancarlo Fisichella and Finnish newcomer Heikki Kovalainen, currently a test driver with the team.