Fernando Alonso - exclusive Q&A 24 Jun 2005
Sing while you're winning - the Spaniard reveals all...
Fernando Alonso is not only the world championship leader, he is also the it-boy of Formula One racing, with his undeniably snappy dress sense and looks that would not be out of place in an El Greco painting at Madrid's Prado Museum.
Three years ago, Renault team boss Flavio Briatore predicted that Alonso had it on the track - enough it, in fact, to become world champion. He could not have been more right. This season his nurturing of the Spaniards talent has truly paid off, as Alonso has blossomed into a serious title contender.
Q: Flavio Briatore is highly experienced in handling young drivers, soaking up the media heat that can sometimes get too hot, too soon, for them. Having his broad shoulders to lean on - how important has that been in your development?
FA: Flavio is a very intelligent man. He knows that a young driver with potential needs time to grow and find his own way. But he is also a very demanding team manager, pushing you to the limit - always asking for the maximum.
Q: Flavio recently said that one of his biggest talents is to spot future champions and to get them for the least money possible. Also true in your case?
FA: As I said, Flavio is a very intelligent man.
Q: Getting back to racing, did you expect to be first in the championship standings at the mid-season mark?
FA: No, the truth is not. We knew that the car was good, but to lead the championship - even both championships, was a far away dream for me and the team.
Q: This years car seems much stronger than last years...
FA: Yes, it is a much better car. Not like in the previous year or the year before where we had a very good chassis but a lack of engine power. This year the car is much more balanced. At race tracks where we lack engine power we can compensate it with the good chassis - and vice versa, where the chassis is the weak spot the engine takes up the gap.
Q: How many victories do you think would be necessary to win this years title?
FA: It depends what the others do. If my direct rivals do not finish races it would be enough to end up somewhere between the third or fourth position. But if, for example, Kimi (Raikkonen) - and now Michael (Schumacher) - starts scoring more victories, then it is necessary to win races. And I love to win races.
Q: The unusual happenings at the US Grand Prix not only showed how unpredictable the world of Formula One racing can be, they also set-up a potential three-way battle for the championship. Could Indy have paved the way for another Schumacher title?
FA: First of all I want to say that I am very sorry about the disappointment of the fans - but we always have to see safety first. Sure, I was very sorry not to race and it is not easy to see your competitor have an easy walk for a victory. All races so far were heavily fought for, but Sundays victory came as a present from heaven. But in a little over a week I will defend my lead and we will fight it out on the track and not in a meeting.
Q: If you win the championship this year, will that change the future you had seen for yourself in Formula One racing?
FA: No, but without doubt if I win this year it is much earlier than I thought. Before arriving in F1 I thought it would be enough to have a good car that makes you world champion. Now I see that so many factors attribute to the title and even at the beginning of this season I did not think that we could already go for it. Honestly, if we win this year it would be a big surprise.
Q: You are said to be a very superstitious person with your own special rituals that you go through immediately before a race. Is this true?
FA: Yes, before each race I sing with my manager in the pilots room. In Canada I have not done it. Maybe that was why it was not such a good race for me!