Preview: Alonso Poised to Win Title

Renault's Fernando Alonso needs to score four points more than McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen to become Formula One's youngest champion on Sunday

Preview: Alonso Poised to Win Title

Even if McLaren have won the last three races, and have clearly the quickest car, the 24-year-old Spaniard knows he has a good chance to put the title beyond all doubt at Spa-Francorchamps.

"I will be going to Belgium to win - and we will see how the weekend develops from there," said Alonso, who is more than a year younger than Brazilian Emerson Fittipaldi was when he became the youngest champion in 1972.

Leader of the Championship since the second race in Malaysia in March, Alonso is close to journey's end with three Grands Prix to spare.

Alonso has 103 points, Raikkonen 76.

In 15 Grands Prix so far, Alonso has beaten his Finnish rival by at least four points on six occasions while also celebrating six wins.

Raikkonen was triumphant in Spa last year, and Alonso has yet to finish a Formula One race there, but the daunting rollercoaster of a circuit is the Spaniard's favourite.

"It is a circuit with good memories for me," said Alonso. "I won my first F3000 race there in 2000, and even last year I was in the lead when I retired.

"People will talk about winning the championship there and I will try to do it if I can. But any of the races are good for it. Brazil, Japan or China. It doesn't matter to me."

McLaren Fight

Raikkonen's hopes were dealt a cruel blow in Italy last weekend when an engine failure cost him pole position and forced him to fight to fourth place from 11th on the starting grid.

He, and Colombian teammate Juan Pablo Montoya need to end McLaren's five-year run without a one-two finish and score maximum points in the last European race of the year.

Montoya, winner in Monza, has said Raikkonen can count on his support but is focused on overhauling Renault's eight-point lead in the Constructors' Championship.

"Winning is what we as a team are all here for and we need those wins in order to claim the constructors' title," said Montoya. "We are getting closer to Renault and we just have to continue working hard.

"There are four races left and anything can happen."

Ferrari's Michael Schumacher, his reign as champion now over after five years, would like to think that as well but realistically recognises his once-dominant team have little hope on the day unless it rains.

The German has not scored a point in the last two races and Monza, Ferrari's home race, saw him finally ruled out of the Championship mathematically.

"I always have fond memories of Spa," said the German, who won his first Grand Prix there in 1992 and his seventh Championship last year.

"I have to admit that our current performances have dampened the enthusiasm a little. It is obvious that we have to go into this race on the limit; compromises are not allowed."

Ferrari need every point they can get, with Toyota just eight points behind and threatening to push the men from Maranello out of the top three.

Brazilian Antonio Pizzonia hopes to celebrate his 25th birthday in style after being given the nod for a second successive race as stand-in for recovering German Nick Heidfeld at Williams.

Heidfeld had a big accident in testing at Monza in late August and was replaced by Pizzonia for the Italian Grand Prix. The Brazilian finished seventh.

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Series Formula 1
Drivers Fernando Alonso
Author Alan Baldwin
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