« Schumacher did magic sometimes »

Fernando Alonso against Michael Schumacher in 2006, it was a bit like Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton this year: an ambitious young wolf who has already proven himself, facing a seven-time World Champion. This duel between the title holder for Renault and his Ferrari rival marked the history of Formula 1 with his intensity, as the one who then won his second crown in the top flight remembers.

Already, in 2005, Alonso and the Losange had created a surprise by landing at the forefront, while the structure of Enstone had not been at such a party since the two coronations of … Michael Schumacher, in 1994 and 1995. The triumph of an outsider, what to feel even more pleasure? « No, I don’t think it changes the joy, the happiness or the pride that comes from a championship »Alonso replies in the Beyond The Grid podcast. « It doesn’t matter if you are the favorite or if you are not among the contenders. »

« The main thing for us was first, in 2005, to win a title that we did not expect: it is true that Renault was a team that was constantly improving, but not to the point of being able to play the title. C ‘was a fantastic surprise, and that was the first one, so the happiness is twofold. And then it was to fight with Michael. « 

« Frankly, in [2006], the value of the championship, what we felt at the time, it was fantastic. We were racing against the legend, against Michael, against Ferrari. Michael has announced his retirement from Monza. From that point on, it was a very intense battle. Even in Brazil we were fighting for the title, and before we started the race we shook hands, I wished him the best for the next chapter of his life, but we still fought for the championship. It was a mixture of emotions, it was a special moment. « 

Fernando Alonso and Michael Schumacher

The battle between Renault and Ferrari was relatively balanced in 2006, with seven pole positions for the two manufacturers but nine wins to eight for the Losange. Alonso reckons he has had the best car in « the first six or seven races » before Ferrari and its tire manufacturer Bridgestone retaliated against Renault and Michelin. However, his biggest opponent, the one who pushed him to get the best of himself, was Schumacher.

« Absoutely », confirms the Spaniard. « I consider Michael the biggest rival I’ve known in my career, a teacher to me in so many ways. I was young, I was getting into Formula 1, I found myself fighting for a world title, but maybe I wasn’t ready to fight for something so important at this point. Alongside Michael, with all his knowledge, his approach of perseverance, his performances which were always out of the ordinary … « 

« I remember the Renault was a better car in some races, at least we thought we had an advantage in the tires or the package itself that weekend, then we went into qualifying, I was happy. , they were telling me on the radio that I was in pole position, I was more or less expecting it, but when I got to the parc fermé, Michael was second. How was that possible? We approached qualifying by thinking that it was a good weekend to widen the gap in the championship a bit, but even on a bad weekend Michael was second. end not very competitive. He did magic, sometimes « , concludes the one who now rubs shoulders with Michael Schumacher’s son, Mick, on the Formula 1 circuits … and perhaps for a few more years.

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