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Renault's post-Brazil debrief

NEWS STORY
23/10/2006

In Brazil 2005, Fernando Alonso took his first world championship under cloudy skies, and the glittering silver confetti never quite sparkled as it rained down onto the podium. But yesterday afternoon in Sao Paulo the story was quite different, as the sun beamed down on the young Spaniard who had just become the youngest double world champion in history – and the silver confetti glittered as it soared on the breeze. The race proved a thrilling end to a compelling championship – and here's the perspective from within the world champion team, after the chequered flag fell…

Finishing it in style…

As Fernando closed his visor on the grid, ahead of the race of his life, his race engineer Rod Nelson gave his usual words of encouragement for the final time: “Muy Buena Suerte”. 71 tense laps later and it was Fernando's turn to talk to the team. “Thank you, merci à tous, you have done a fantastic job,” crackled the team radio as the R26 cruised back to the pits. “This is my last race with you guys, this was the final race, and we have won both championships again. Thank you for all these
years, it has been a pleasure for me to work with you and to have this success, and I wish you the best for the future.” It came from the heart, and left its mark. And Fernando was hardly to know his day was about to get even better. A 2-0 home win for Real Madrid over arch rivals Barcelona meant the new world champion, a fervent Real supporter, had truly enjoyed a perfect day!

One for the history books

As the 2006 season has demonstrated, Formula 1 is so much more than a cold scientific discipline ruled by boffins with computers. It contains human drama, and moments of real history too. And perhaps it was fitting, on the day that Michael Schumacher retired from the sport he has graced, that Fernando Alonso and the Renault F1 Team became the newest members of a very select group – those who have achieved the ‘double double'. Winning one world championship is hard enough, two is a real challenge – but two championships in consecutive years, with the same drivers, has rarely been seen. Most recently, it was achieved by Michael Schumacher and Ferrari in 2000/1/2/3/4; before that, Ayrton Senna and McLaren in 1990/1; and the only other example in the sport's history came in 1959/60 with Jack Brabham and Cooper. The Renault team, and Fernando Alonso, are now worthy of being mentioned in the same breath, an achievement to be treasured by
every one of the team's 800 members.

The V8 Symphony

They are a musical bunch at the Renault F1 Team's engine development base in Viry-Châtillon, and their gift for song brought a novel touch to the traditional end-of-season engine run in the garage. Any championship winning Renault engine undergoes the ordeal, which sees it fired up in the garage and revved to its maximum, surrounded by a crowd of transfixed onlookers. Sunday was no different, as colleagues from other teams piled in to see the sight. And so Giancarlo's E-spec RS26 engine was revved close to 20,000 rpm, its raucous tones screaming into the Brazilian night. But there was another surprise in store too, as first the Marseillaise, then the Marcha Real followed by God Save the Queen rang out in tribute to the team's international composition – and its newly crowned double world champion.

Au revoir

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