Fernando Alonso admits that racing Michael Schumacher was the highlight of his career and that he considers him to be his biggest rival.
In the recent episode of the ‘beyond the grid’ podcast, Alonso spoke about his first Title win and what it meant to him. The Spaniard won two consecutive Championships with Renault in 2005 and 2006.
During his maiden title pursuit, he went up against the 7-time World Champion, Schumacher, whom he considers to be his biggest rival. The German driver had just won 5 consecutive titles with Ferrari and was vying for another one.
Alonso revealed that defeating Michael was ‘the highlight of his career’ because he considered him to be the greatest of all time.
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Man of the moment and double F1 world champion @alo_oficial sits down for a wide-ranging interview with host Tom Clarkson 💬
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“The 2005 win, it was fantastic, it meant a lot to me.” said the 40 year old. “We were racing against the legend [Michael] and Ferrari.”
Schumacher announced the following year that he would leave F1 after the season ended. According to Alonso, it just made the title fight even more intense.
“From that moment on, it was a very intense Championship.” he continued. “I remember in Brazil, before the start of the race, we were shaking hands and wishing him the best for the next chapter in life. But we were still fighting for the Championship so it was a mix of emotions.”
Schumacher finished 2nd in his last season with Ferrari as Alonso went on to win his 2nd consecutive title with Renault that year.
“Michael always brought out the best in me”, says Fernando Alonso
Alonso agreed that the Ferrari was a much faster car in the latter part of 2005. However, reliability issues for the Italian team cost Schumacher the title.
“I would say we had the better car in the first half of the season. Then Ferrari maybe had the better pace but also had reliability issues. So it worked out for us in the end.” Alonso said.
The Oviedo born driver went on to say that Schumacher inspired him to do better in his early years in F1. “Michael for me, was the biggest rival in F1. He was like a teacher for me.” said the current Alpine driver. “I was young, coming into the sport. Still finding my feet and maybe I wasn’t ready to win the Championship yet”.
Only 3️⃣ drivers over the age of 40 have finished on the podium in the last 35 years 🤯
Alonso joined Schumacher and Mansell in proving that age is just a number with his P3 in Qatar 👏
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“Alongside me, I had him who brought all his experience and knowledge and support. He never gave up and always brought out the best in his car”.
Schumacher could win even when his car was not at its best, says Alonso
Alonso feels that Michael’s ability to challenge for wins, even when his car was non-competitive is what made him the best driver ever.
“There were times when we went into the weekend with a better package and feeling confident. When qualifying came, everything was perfect. You hear on the radio that you got pole position and everything is good.”
“Then you come on the scales and you see Michael was in 2nd, just behind you. How that was possible, I don’t know.” he concluded.
Michael Schumacher left Formula 1 after 2006. He returned to sport in 2010 and spent three seasons with the Mercedes team, helping the Silver Arrows build up its foundations.