The World Champion says 'Gracias'
Fernando Alonso was in Enstone today to say thanks to his team-mates.
Under cloudy skies and light drizzle, a Renault Espace pulled through the gates of the Renault F1 Team's Enstone factory -- with a familiar face at the wheel.
After Sunday evening's festivities in Sao Paulo's spectacular Caf? de la Musique, where the youngest double champion in history congratulated the race team and Michelin not only on their success but also on the sense of fair play that has driven their title victory, Fernando was determined to visit his team-mates in Enstone and say thank you.
The applause were long and heartfelt... and then the champion took to the stage and spoke:
"Thank you, thank you all very much," he began. "Really, there is nothing new to say. I just want to thank everybody, every single person in the team that helped win these two championships. We have had a very tough season, and a very close fight with Ferrari. And at the end, you know, time puts everybody in their place -- and we are in P1 because we deserved it more than the others."
"I think there are thousands of people in the Formula 1 teams and of them only one team is champion. In the last two years, you have proved you are the best. I want to thank everyone for giving me the possibility to have a winning car in my hands, and to say I did my best to earn my championships and your championships as well. We did it."
Cue great applause, before Fernando continued...
"I am now moving on to another team as you know..." and he paused as a chorus of jovial 'boos' rained down on him, then, smiling, continued... "but if I don't have the possibility to win in the future, then I hope you win because you are the best."
The room erupted as one, united behind their champion, before a final team photo with the women and men of Enstone -- in the race shop where his faithful chassis R26-03, the car which he used in every Grand Prix in 2006, had been lovingly prepared throughout the season. Fernando held both world championship trophies aloft as the 540 staff cheered with him -- in celebration of the historic "double double" championship wins in 2005 and 2006.
Signings followed, a last memento from a champion, before the Espace disappeared into the Oxfordshire gloom. More celebrations will come, in his hometown of Oviedo this Sunday then in Viry next week with his other team-mates. But these are the gestures that count: the generous spirit of a champion who has given the utmost of his talent, and now proffers his most heartfelt thanks.