Home - The Official Formula 1 Website Skip to content

Alonso, Schumacher play it cool 20 Oct 2006

Race winner Fernando Alonso (ESP) Renault in the FIA Press Conference.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 17, Japanese Grand Prix, Race, Suzuka, Japan, 8 October 2006 Michael Schumacher (GER) Ferrari.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 18, Brazilian Grand Prix, Preparations, Interlagos, Brazil, 19 October 2006 Michael Schumacher (GER) Ferrari at a Shell Press Conference.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 18, Brazilian Grand Prix, Preparations, Interlagos, Brazil, 19 October 2006 Fernando Alonso (ESP) Renault.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 18, Brazilian Grand Prix, Preparations, Interlagos, Brazil, 19 October 2006 Fernando Alonso (ESP) Renault.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 18, Brazilian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Interlagos, Brazil, 20 October 2006

The two title protagonists continue to play down their championship prospects here in Sao Paulo, one still conceding that the chase for the drivers’ crown is over, the other saying that it is far from settled.

With his 10-point advantage over Michael Schumacher, Fernando Alonso needs only that single point to retain his title, but when you get that close it’s never wise to think you are home and dry. The Spaniard has been around long enough to know that anything can happen. In many ways, he is carrying greater pressure.

“Always when you have the chance to become champion, you always have the pressure, the motivation and the dream is close to being realised again," said Alonso. "Last year, for sure, I had three opportunities: here, China and Japan and this year it’s only the last race, and for sure, you cannot lose this opportunity as I was able to lose the opportunity here last year. So maximum concentration. I think the team is ready for this last battle. I am ready as well and we arrive in a good position thanks to the Japanese result and we try to do our best and do the final part of the job.”

Alonso concedes that he can be cautious if the situation demands it, even though Renault are after the constructors’ championship as well.

“To be honest for me the important thing is the drivers’ championship, not only for me, for everybody. We see all the publicity on the motorways, everywhere from China onwards. I think we only see Michael’s and Alonso’s face on the pictures. You don’t see the logo of Ferrari and Renault. I think the people remember which driver is the champion and which car he drove. I don’t think anyone remembers 10 years ago who was the constructors’ champion. For sure it’s an important championship but I think the team and myself know which one is more important and try to win this drivers’ championship first and for sure, if we can help the team to become constructors’ champions, it’s good for next year, for the money, for the position and for the brand, but we will see.

“I try to always be out of everything but for sure, sometimes it is difficult when you are always on the top and everybody is looking at you. For this week, we did our job. We prepared the car, I prepared myself physically. For sure it was a difficult week because the most difficult thing was to train, to go on the mountain bike, to do the normal training with caution because I didn’t want to injure myself. I tried to arrive here with maximum concentration because we must make no mistakes this weekend.”

Michael, meanwhile, faces the weekend in a reflective mood. If he were to win, would it be his most epic success?

“Well, the most favourite anyway will remain the one of 2000," he commented. "I am not coming here this weekend to think too much about my own title. I am coming here for the constructors' title. I have expressed after the Suzuka race that the title fight for the drivers' championship is finished.

“I don't want to build up my hopes on someone retiring. So I am here to do a good race and try to win. From our point of view we can only do the maximum job to be one and two at the end of the race and then we have to see what the others can do, and if that is enough for us to win the constructors' championship.”

Alonso pointed skywards when the subject turned to special talismans, but admitted that he will remember Brazil 2006, one way or the other.

“It will become special for sure if this Sunday I win, and to win two titles in Brazil will be special. And if I lose the championship it will be special as well because it will be a very bad memory, because with 10 points if you lose the championship in the last race it will be difficult to forget anyway.”

The only thing that is for certain in this gripping encounter is that Michael Schumacher’s 250th and final Grand Prix is going to be a real cracker.