Analysis: Alonso Leads a New Generation

A torch has passed from one Formula One generation to another, even if Fernando Alonso refuses to see himself as the face of a new era

Analysis: Alonso Leads a New Generation

After becoming the youngest champion in the sport's history in Brazil on Sunday, ending the five-year reign of Ferrari's Michael Schumacher, the 24-year-old Spaniard shrugged off a suggestion that he too could rule for some time.

"No," replied the Renault driver. "I think every year every car is different and sometimes there is my name in the newspapers and sometimes it is Kimi (Raikkonen), sometimes (Jenson) Button, Juan Pablo (Montoya)...

"This year was my year with no problems at all. Luck was always with me and my team really helped me a lot this year so everything came to me this year.

"But for sure in the next races or next year it will maybe be different," he added.

Even if Alonso's reign is short-lived, a new generation is in the driving seat and Ferrari's stranglehold has been decisively broken.

Of the names Alonso mentioned, McLaren's Raikkonen and BAR's Button are both 25. Montoya, McLaren's winner on Sunday, turned 30 this month but Schumacher will be 37 before he next has a chance of fighting for the Championship.

Schumacher's Ferrari teammate next year will be 24-year-old Brazilian Felipe Massa and further down the road MotoGP champion Valentino Rossi could enter the picture.

Dominant Team

Raikkonen could well end up with more race wins than Alonso this year, both having six each already, and many within the sport see him as the dominant driver despite Alonso's achievement.

McLaren have won the last five races, are now leading the Constructors' Championship and could well run away with the final two Grands Prix in Japan and China.

They could be the team of 2006 but the rules are changing with the V10 engines replaced by V8s, and it would be premature to write off Schumacher's chances of adding another chapter to his extraordinary career.

The German, who joined in widespread congratulations for Alonso on Sunday, has not given up and can point out that Ferrari totally dominated 2004 only to sink almost without trace this season.

Renault have not had the fastest car but they have had the most reliable.

"They have done a great job and from a personal point of view it is nice for me to see some of the guys I worked with at Benetton looking so happy," said Schumacher, whose first two titles in 1994 and 1995 were with the team Renault took over.

"I look forward to fighting them again next season."

Brazilian Emerson Fittipaldi's record as the youngest champion lasted 33 years and there is every reason to suspect that Alonso's achievement will also stand the test of time. His has been a remarkable season.

"He has dealt with everything, hasn't he?," said Renault's engineering head Pat Symonds, who also worked with Schumacher at Benetton.

"He's controlled races from the front, he's defended like at Imola, he's come through the field like in Australia.

"He's had to have the whole gamut right through the year and each one he's reacted to well. We've had 17 races and he's made one mistake in the year. That's pretty damned good actually, isn't it?"

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Spain Hails F1 'King' Alonso
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