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Dennis: Alonso Still to Prove Himself

Fernando Alonso must still prove himself as the sport's number one driver this season, despite clinching the World Championship in Brazil on Sunday

That is the view of McLaren boss Ron Dennis, who believes that it has been impossible to gauge Alonso's talent for much of the year because the Spaniard has been able to play it conservatively due to his points-advantage.

With the Drivers' Championship now decided, and Alonso theoretically unleashed to race for wins, Dennis wants to see what the Spaniard really is capable of against the might of the MP4-20 and his pairing of Kimi Raikkonen and Juan Pablo Montoya.

"I think there is a category of driver that comes from South America, Italy or Spain that doesn't have the discipline required to win the World Championship," Dennis said after the race.

"We'll only know now how strong or not he (Alonso) is, because he's been driving percentages over the last few races, but that wouldn't have made any difference (to the result in Brazil).

"Our drivers certainly have better equipment but personally I feel they're also better drivers. This may sound like sour grapes and I'm taking something away from him, which I'm certainly not, but it's the way I feel."

Dennis' beliefs about Alonso did not stop the McLaren team heading down to the Renault garage after the Interlagos race to congratulate their rivals on the title success.

Renault technical director Bob Bell welcomed the gesture - even though the two teams remain locked in a battle for the Constructors' Championship.

"I have always said that for me, the human side is still what makes Formula One so special," he said.

"It is the beating heart of every team, and yesterday's gesture from McLaren was a perfect symbol of that. We have fought them tooth and nail this year - and will continue to do so until the end of the season.

"But there is also immense mutual respect between the two teams, and a real sporting atmosphere. The congratulations were sincere and heartfelt, and wonderful to see. But make no mistake, we will be back to our usual rivalry come Friday in Suzuka."

Dennis' doubts about Alonso are also in contrast to other leading figures down the pitlane who have been impressed by the Renault driver's charge to the title.

Williams co-owner Patrick Head said: "He's brilliant. He has done a fantastic job, he made almost no mistakes all year and made brilliant use of the equipment he had. Really brilliant."

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