Moss: Alonso is the best

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Sir Stirling Moss has hailed Spaniard Fernando Alonso as a “worthy” successor to Michael Schumacher after he became the youngest Formula One World Champion in history by finishing third in the Brazilian Grand Prix in September.

Alonso, 24, took the age record from Emerson Fittipaldi, who was one year and 215 days older when he won his first title in 1972, although it took the Brazilian just 25 races to the Spaniard’s 67 to do it. Alonso’s six wins for Renault this year helped him beat McLaren’s Kimi Räikkönen to the championship with two races still to run.

Moss, who finished runner-up in the title race in four consecutive years (1955-58), said: “Alonso is very worthy and will be a good world champion. It’s nice that he’s won it by being the best driver over the year and of course it’s amazing to see someone do it so young. But he and Kimi would both have been worthy champions.

“Fernando’s a racer who doesn’t give up. He’s like (five-time Moto GP world champion)  Valentino Rossi: both have great ability and are very nice people too, which is very good for motorsport.”

It is the first time since 1999 that anyone other than Ferrari star Schumacher has won the title. After Brazil the seven-time champion was tied for a distant third with Juan Pablo Montoya. But Moss expects the team to be back on its game next year. He said: “I wouldn’t discount Schumacher by any means. He’s not got a very good car at the moment, but Ferrari will be back and it will be good to see Schumacher, Räikkönen and Alonso battle next season.”

***

Jenson Button, who has yet to win after 99 grands prix, will remain at BAR next year after paying off his contract with Frank Williams. The rumoured cost was £18 million.