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The World Champion says 'Gracias' 25 Oct 2006

Fernando Alonso thanks the Renault F1 Team, Enstone, England. 25th October 2006. © Glenn Dunbar/LAT Photographic.

After winning the title on Sunday, Fernando Alonso - the youngest double champion in history - headed to Oxfordshire on Wednesday to pay tribute to the hard work of the 540 Renault staff based at the team’s factory in Enstone, England.

"Thank you, thank you all very much," said Alonso, after the applause that greeted him had finally died down. “Really, there is nothing new to say. I just want to thank everybody, every single person in the team that helped win these two championships. We have had a very tough season, and a very close fight with Ferrari. And at the end, you know, time puts everybody in their place - and we are in P1 because we deserved it more than the others.

"I think there are thousands of people in the Formula One teams and of them only one team is champion. In the last two years, you have proved you are the best. I want to thank everyone for giving me the possibility to have a winning car in my hands, and to say I did my best to earn my championships and your championships as well. We did it."

Alonso’s visit to the factory is set to be his last ahead of his move to McLaren for 2007. But despite his new loyalties, the Spaniard didn’t hesitate in wishing Renault well for next season.

"I am now moving on to another team as you know," he said, amid jovial ‘boos’ from his Renault colleagues. "But if I don't have the possibility to win in the future, then I hope you win because you are the best."

After finishing his speech, Alonso held both world championship trophies aloft for a final team photo, before performing a farewell autograph session. Alonso will enjoy further celebrations at his hometown of Oviedo in Spain on Sunday, before heading to Renault’s French factory in Viry next week.