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Alonso - Renault still favourites 12 Sep 2006

Fernando Alonso (ESP) Renault.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 15, Italian Grand Prix, Preparations, Monza, Italy, 7 September 2006

Champion believes title hopes still very much alive

After the high drama of Monza, Renault’s Fernando Alonso is more determined than ever to win his second world championship this season. Although a slight knee injury, sustained during practice in Italy, will prevent him testing with the team this week in Jerez, the Spaniard believes the next three races will prove just how competitive the R26 is…

Q: Fernando, Italy must have been one of the most demanding race weekends of your career. How are you feeling afterwards?
Fernando Alonso:
Naturally, I feel disappointed with what happened over the weekend, and the retirement. But we have to think about the next race and our next opportunity. We have three races to go, and we should be very optimistic. The Renault has been very, very quick in the last three races, nearly as quick as Ferrari or even faster. So for the last three races, I think we should be the favourites.

Q: Michael Schumacher announced his retirement on Sunday afternoon. What are your thoughts about Michael?
Some people in Formula One will be not so happy because there will be no-one for them to follow in the races. We lose and we will miss a great champion on the track, he beat all the records and has the best numbers in Formula One. But I think maybe Formula One itself will focus more on the sport after his retirement.

Q: You were due to be testing this week in Jerez, and now will not. Is it a serious problem?
No. I banged my knee on the side of the chassis during practice in Monza, and there is some bruising. Of course, I raced with the problem at the weekend, but we took the decision not to test this week to let it recover in the best way possible. To be honest, I am really frustrated with the situation because I wanted to be out there testing. We have new tyres, new developments on the car and engine parts to test as well. It will be a very busy and important week in Jerez.

Q: You have a two-point lead in the drivers' championship. There is only one question that matters at this point of the season: do you believe you can win it?
Yes, I absolutely do. We have been quick in the last races, and the car is improving a lot. We had all the problems with the mass dampers, but the R26 is getting really, really competitive again - as we proved on Sunday by going from 10th to 3rd. For the team and myself, we are 100 percent, no 110 percent certain that we will do it.