Renault's Fernando Alonso visited his colleagues in Enstone yesterday. The reception was... rapturous! At today's post-race debrief, things had a very normal air... to begin with. Pat Symonds, the team's Executive Director of Engineering, ...
Renault's Fernando Alonso visited his colleagues in Enstone yesterday. The reception was... rapturous!
At today's post-race debrief, things had a very normal air... to begin with. Pat Symonds, the team's Executive Director of Engineering, climbed onto to the stage and, as usual, opened proceedings. "For once, I am not going to stand up here waffling on about what happened in the race!" he joked. "Ladies and gentlemen, we have something a little more important to celebrate, so let me ask Flavio and Fernando to come and say a few words."
With almost every member of the team crammed into Enstone's conference centre, the 2005 world champion took the microphone to the sound of thunderous applause. "What can I say?" said Fernando, still comprehending his achievement.
"Thank you to every one of you, we have done a fantastic job together this year. I think the truth is that we have been the best in the 2005 season. We have proved we have a champion car, and Fisico and I are confident for the constructors. We will be going at full power in the next two races, and I think we can do it!"
As the audience happily sipped victory champagne, Managing Director Flavio Briatore -- fresh from a lightning trip to the engine base in Viry-Ch?tillon yesterday -- took the lead. "I am so, so proud of this -- what we have done together this year is like a miracle."
"We started the adventure in 2001, and now we are part of history. It is an emotional moment, to win like we did this year against the very best. Fernando has done an incredible story with us: he deserves the success and the effort you give, and you deserve a guy like him."
"We cannot forget Viry either, they are really happy too, and we have got the right package and the right people to do the job. Fernando now has a free mind, Fisico has done a fantastic job this season, and we are going to go and fight for the next championship in these last races."
Twenty minutes later, normality resumed as the bus arrived to take the test team out to Jerez for the final session of the year -- one that could prove crucial in the battle for the constructors' championship. Two days with Franck Montagny and RDD driver Lucas Di Grassi at the wheel of the R25, the Brazilian making his debut in an F1 car.
They will be choosing tyres for the last races, and putting valuable testing mileage on further updates to both chassis and engine. Fernando won't be there: he is in Oxford, quietly reflecting on the weekend's amazing events -- as well as preparing for the next race in Japan.
No doubt, by the time he gets there, the phrase "World Champion" will feel a little more comfortable alongside the name "Fernando Alonso". Until then, he will just continue drinking in the gratitude and appreciation of millions of fans, and hundreds of richly rewarded colleagues.