Fernando Alonso becomes new Formula One World Champion

Monday, September 26, 2005

Renault driver Fernando Alonso finished third in the Brazilian Grand Prix, held at the Autodromo Carlos Pace near São Paulo. McLaren drivers and championship rivals Juan Pablo Montoya and Kimi Raikonnen finished first and second respectively; although Alonso’s third place decreased his lead in championship points over Raikonnen, his closest rival, to 23, he nonetheless was able to secure the 2005 Drivers’ World Championship. Since the winner of a Formula One Grand Prix earns 10 points and only two races remain, Raikonnen no longer has a mathematical possibility of becoming World Champion.

Alonso thus ends the five-year long reign of Michael Schumacher at the top of Formula One. At 24, he also became the youngest Formula One World Champion, ahead of Brazilian driver Emerson Fittipaldi, who was 25 when he took the crown in 1972. He is also the first Spaniard to take that title.

Even though the Drivers’ Championship is over, the Constructors’ Championship will most likely go down to the wire during the last two races of the season in Suzuka (Japan) and Shanghai. Even though Renault has led the Championship for most of the season, Raikonnen’s recent victories in the Hungarian, Turkish, Belgian and Brazilian Grand Prix have given McLaren a two-point lead over Renault, ensuring that both teams will fight hard for every point in the final races.

The race commenced with an incident between David Coulthard and Antonio Pizzonio touching wheels, forcing the latter’s Williams-BMW into his teammate Mark Webber’s car, putting all three of them out of the race (Webber eventually did manage to rejoin after lengthy repairs). The incident necessitated the deployment of the safety car until the track was cleared. Following the restart, Giancarlo Fisichella repassed reigning seven-times world champion Michael Schumacher almost immediately, although Schumacher ultimately regained the position during the first pitstop round.

Montoya was never challenged for the race lead, and was not required to assist his teammate as Alonso’s third place ensured that a win for Raikonnen would have made no difference regarding the outcome of the world championship. McLaren’s one-two finish was their first such result since the 2000 Austrian Grand Prix.

Despite pre-race concerns about rain, the race remained dry.