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Last Updated: Sunday, 25 September 2005, 18:44 GMT 19:44 UK
Alonso 'is as good as Schumacher'
By Andrew Benson
Motorsport editor

New Formula One world champion Fernando Alonso
New world champion Fernando Alonso can already be classed as an all-time Formula One great, according to the head engineer at his Renault team.

F1 veteran Pat Symonds, who has worked with Michael Schumacher and Ayrton Senna, says Alonso is just as good.

"Fernando is up there. He's got all those attributes," Symonds said.

"Ayrton, Michael, Fernando - they all share this ability to get the most from what they've got, to do just a little bit more when it's needed."

In an exclusive interview with BBC Sport, Symonds said that while there are many drivers in F1 who are fast, very few have the all-round ability and extra spark to make them great.

"The obvious attribute - driving a car fast - there are a number of them who possess that," he said.

Pat Symonds
We gave Fernando a damn good car and he responded to it and used it
Pat Symonds
Renault engineering director
"Some of them maybe have it only on their day, but there are others who possess it pretty well all the time. But that doesn't mean they're going to be champions.

"There's far more to it than that. And it's those other slightly less tangible things that mark the champions out and Fernando's got them - the self-confidence and self-belief."

Symonds said Alonso's performance this season had been "pretty damn good" and that it was "a little bit of a struggle" to think of a weakness in his driving.

He said Alonso had realised as early as pre-season testing that he would be in with a chance of the championship and had responded accordingly.

"Drivers don't wake up one morning and become better than the day before," Symonds said.

"But what he gained quite rapidly - and I'm not just talking about this season, it was even during winter testing - was a lot of self-esteem and confidence.

"We gave him a damn good car and he responded to it and used it.

"It's this thing you see in all true sportsmen, not just racing drivers. They set themselves a target and they achieve it.

"It's almost like getting a personal best every day. And I think during the winter Fernando thought: 'Crikey, yes, I've got a car here that can win.'

"He went into that very first race feeling, 'Well, yeah, I can do this.' It gave him that little bit extra. It was: 'This is my time. Now let's do it.'"

Interview: Former F1 champ Jody Scheckter

Alonso celebrates historic title
25 Sep 05 |  Formula One


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