With 12 races left in the 2005 Formula One
season, Fernando Alonso is on pace to become the circuit's youngest-ever world champion.
Fernando Alonso has had plenty of reasons
to smile so far in 2005. (CP File Photo)
Four first-place finishes in the first seven
races have helped the 23-year-old Alonso earn 59 points, equal to
the number he won in the entire 2004 season, when he finished fourth.
If Alonso succeeds in winning the F1 title he will unseat Michael
Schumacher as the youngest F1 world champion of all time. The seven-time
champion Schumacher won the title for the first time in 1994, at the
age of 25 years and eight months. Alonso would be more than a year
younger than Shumacher.
The German legend, who currently sits in eighth place with 16 points,
has also won the F1 title each of the past five years.
Alonso's closest competitors this year are Kimi Raikkonen and Jarno
Trulli, with 27 points each.
It will likely be difficult for anyone to overtake Alonso, who has
yet to finish out of the top four this year, placing second, third,
and fourth once. Drivers earn points if they finish eighth or higher.
In spite of his youth, the native of Oviedo, Spain, has already
had a remarkable racing career. He spent several years in kart racing,
winning the Spanish Karting Title in 1994, 1996, and 1997. He was
also World Junior Karting Champion in 1996, and placed second at
the European Kart Championships.
Alonso moved on to the Spanish Nissan Open series in 1999 and promptly
won the championship. This earned him a spot in 2000's Formula 3000,
the final step for drivers seeking to enter F1. He would place fourth
at the drivers championships, and move on to F1 in 2001.
At the 2001 Australian Grand Prix, Alonso made his debut with the
Mirandi team, becoming the third-youngest driver to start a F1 race.
Although he failed to score a point during his rookie season, Alonso
performed well enough to be signed by the new Renault team as a
test driver in 2002, becoming a regular the next year.
During the 2003 season, Alonso twice made a historic mark on the
F1 circuit related to his youth. First, at the 2003 Malaysian Grand
Prix, he became the youngest driver to win a pole position, meaning
that his performance during the qualifying session earned him the
right to start the race at the front of the grid.
Then, at the 2003 Hungarian Grand Prix, Alonso became the youngest
driver in F1 history to win a race, posting a time of 39:01.4
16.7 seconds ahead of second place finisher Raikkonen.
Alonso would finish the 2003 season in sixth place, with 55 points
and four podium finishes. He would improve on that in 2004, although
he would fail to win a race that year, by finishing fourth with
59 points, and four podium finishes. His best finish was second
at the French Grand Prix.
After a two-spot improvement in the standings, Alonso no doubt entered
the 2005 season hoping to climb higher still, and he got the year
off to a good start by finishing third at the Australian Grand Prix.
Alonso then went on a winning streak, claiming first place at the
races in Malaysia, Bahrain and San Marino.
It briefly appeared that Alonso might fall back into the pack, as
he finished second at the Spanish Grand Prix and then fourth in
Monaco, but he returned to the top of the podium at the European
July 29th, 1981 in Oviedo, Spain
Winning four of this year's seven Grand Prix races, and being on pace to be
the youngest Formula One champion of all time.
Michael Schumacher, who claimed the title in 1994 at 25 years and eight months
1st place - 10
2 - 8
3 - 6
4 - 5
5 - 4
6 - 3
7 - 2
8 - 1
He Said It:
"If we keep this consistency, every time we will have more and more points.
It seems we can do it."
Kimi Raikkonen - 27
Jarno Trulli - 27
Finishes so far:
Australian Grand Prix - 3rd
Malaysia Grand Prix - 1
Bahrain Grand Prix - 1
San Marino Grand Prix - 1
Spanish Grand Prix - 2
Monaco Grand Prix - 4
European Grand Prix - 1