Gascoyne: Alonso is the New Schumacher

Renault technical director Mike Gascoyne believes Spaniard Fernando Alonso has the ability to match the achievements of five-time World Champion Michael Schumacher.

Gascoyne: Alonso is the New Schumacher

Renault technical director Mike Gascoyne believes Spaniard Fernando Alonso has the ability to match the achievements of five-time World Champion Michael Schumacher.

"When Michael Schumacher first came into F1, it was obvious it was only a matter of time before he won a race, and it's the same with Fernando now," Gascoyne told BBC Online. "It's hard to put your finger on it exactly. He's obviously blindingly quick. But a lot of people can drive a racing car quickly.

"The ones who are really good have ability to spare - it just comes naturally to them. And Fernando is like that."

21-year old Alonso has taken Formula One by storm this season, becoming the youngest driver to score a pole position and then clinching two podium finishes in Malaysia and Brazil. The Renault driver had made his Formula One debut with the Minardi team in 2001, before spending a year as a test driver for Renault.

Alonso has scored points in all four races so far this year, and he lies in fourth place in the drivers' standings only behind McLaren drivers Kimi Raikkonen and David Coulthard and Ferrari's Schumacher.

Alonso could become the first Spanish driver to score a point at his home Grand Prix this weekend if he continues with his streak of point-scoring finishes, and Gascoyne believes the race in Barcelona will provide the true measure of Alonso's talent.

"It will be a measure of him," said Gascoyne. "If he sticks it on the podium or something in Barcelona with all the fuss that will be going on around him, and treats it like it is any other race, that's when you'll know he's really got it. And I think you'll see him breeze through the weekend as though it is at the Nurburgring, not in Spain.

"Fernando is definitely going to win World Championships. I think Raikkonen could do a Mika Hakkinen, and win a couple of World Championships when the car is good, but I don't think he'll be the bloke who wins a race when the car should not, like Michael can.

"But I think Fernando will. He's got that edge. Is Fernando a Schumacher? Yeah, I think he is."

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