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Alonso Takes Third Place And The Title

Today’s Brazilian Grand Prix in Sao Paulo finally closed the race for the 2005 FIA Formula One Drivers’ World Championship, Fernando Alonso drove a good race to take third place and the coveted Drivers’ title. Juan Pablo Montoya was the eventual race winner, with his team mate Kimi Raikkonen taking the second step on the podium. The win makes Alonso the youngest and the first Spanish Formula One World Champion ever.

Taking pole position in Saturday’s qualifying session gave Alonso the best possible start to today’s race. His closest competitor for the title, Raikkonen, was to start fifth on the grid having suffered from a poor qualifying lap. With their team mates, and Jenson Button’s BAR Honda, filling up the spaces between them, it was sure to be a battle between the Renaults and McLarens.

A perfect start from Alonso allowed him to hold position after the lights went out, he was followed by Montoya, Giancarlo Fisichella and Raikkonen. Michael Schumacher and local hero Rubens Barrichello had a perfect start and managed to maintain their positions, but an incident at the back of the grid saw the end of the race for the Williams of Mark Webber and Antonio Pizzonia as well as Red Bull’s David Coulthard. The incident saw the safety car take to the Brazilian circuit for several laps.

When the restart came, Raikkonen found his way past Fisichella to take third position, while Montoya made his intentions clear by charging past Alonso to grab the race lead. Meanwhile, Schumacher’s fight with Fisichella saw the Italian go by, only for the Ferrari to take the place back a few laps later.

Barrichello took the race to Ralf Schumacher’s Toyota, as both drivers diced for eighth position in the early stages of the race. With Montoya in the lead, Raikkonen and Alonso in second and third, the Championship contenders we racing for position. However, come pit stop time, the result was to fall in favour of Raikkonen. Having slightly more fuel on board, Raikkonen was able to stay out for an extra few laps to make up the time on the track before he came in for fuel.

Alonso fuelled his car on lap 21, up to this point he had held the fastest lap of the race, finally he came back to the track in seventh place, handing second over to Raikkonen.

Barrichello was the first of the two Ferrari drivers to head for the pits and some more Shell V-Power on lap 23. While his team mate was in the pit, Schumacher was lapping with the same pace as the race leaders, but he had to come in for his first stop on lap 26. Perfectly planned, he used the pit stop to overtake Fisichella.

Lap 31 saw Raikkonen dive for the pit lane as the last one of the leading pack to stop for fuel, and Montoya took back his first place. At half way stage there were two McLaren’s leading the rest of the field. Lap 43 saw Barrichello give the Brazilian fans something to cheer about with a great move round the outside of Button to take sixth position.

As the second round of pit stops approached, Alonso was one of the first drivers to visit the pit lane, leaving Schumacher in third place before he stopped. Montoya still headed Raikkonen, but his pit stop brought him back to second. However the Finn still had another pit stop, the splash and dash refuelling meant he lost the race lead to Montoya again.

As the drivers approached the chequered flag, it was clear a new World Champion was about to be crowned. Although Montoya crossed the line first and Raikkonen following him closely behind in second, it was Alonso’s third place that was important - no one can now achieve more points before the end of the season meaning Fernando Alonso is the 2005 FIA Formula One World Drivers’ Champion.

Scuderia Ferrari saw a rise in their performance with Schumacher finishing in fourth and Barrichello in sixth to give the Italian team an advantage over Toyota in the Constructors’ Championship.

After the race, Lisa Lilley, Shell’s Formula One Project Manager said: ‘Compared to the last few weekends, this is a pretty good weekend for Ferrari - fourth and sixth will help us in the Constructors’ Championship. And the cars look like they will be back on the pace for the last two races. Obviously our congratulations go to Alonso for taking the title here today.’

The teams now travel to Asia for the final two races of the Formula One season, with the Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka one week ahead of the season’s finale in Shanghai, China.