Alonso looks ahead to Japanese GP

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src=' ' class='caption'> The 2006 Formula One championship is set for a thrilling climax, with title rivals Fernando Alonso and Michael Schumacher level on points.

Updated: February 25, 2007 11:37 IST
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Fernando Alonso is staying calm and focused ahead of the final two races of the season. Michael Schumacher's victory at last weekend's Chinese Grand Prix put him level with Alonso on 116 points, setting up a thrilling finale. This weekend the teams and drivers head to Suzuka in Japan for the season's penultimate race, and the momentum clearly lies with Schumacher. Despite being level on points, the German leads the standings by virtue of having won more races. Alonso, meanwhile, has not won since Montreal in June, and has let slip a lead of 25 points. But the reigning world champion will certainly not relinquish his title without a fight. And he is looking forward to this weekend's race at one of the most difficult circuits in Formula One. "I like it, it's one of my favourite circuits, Suzuka, for sure. It's very demanding for the driver, very challenging, and very physical as well, the race. I think we will have a very very interesting race, regarding the championship positions now, and Suzuka is always one of the races that every driver wants to win,” said Fernando Alonso, Renault driver. "I believe that Suzuka is an extremely difficult circuit for the driver, and very physical too. The race is going to be very hard. It's a circuit where all the drivers want to win, because it's one of the most technical and difficult circuits in the world,” he added. Alonso says that Japanese motor racing fans always give the drivers a special welcome. "Yes, I think they (Japanese fans) are special, and the fans are really excited about Formula One when we arrive there. They support all sports, but especially Formula One, and it's always good to race there. But there are a lot of Toyota and Honda fans, so it's not very good for us. But it's always very good to go to Suzuka,” said Alonso. Despite Suzuka's particularly rigorous demands, Alonso believes that Renault are very much capable of taking a victory that would give their championship hopes a timely boost. "The car should be good. Suzuka is a very demanding circuit for the chassis, for the aerodynamics, and also for the engine, and I think that more or less is what we have in the car. We have a very strong package, and at Suzuka the good cars normally go very well, and the bad cars very bad. So hopefully our car will be at the top,” said Alonso. The stage is set for a fantastic battle, then, at the climax of a fascinating season. Michael Schumacher is desperate to bid farewell to Formula One having secured an unprecidented eighth drivers' title. And Fernando Alonso is equally determined to take a second successive world title, before he leaves Renault for a new challenge at McLaren in 2007. Schumacher and Alonso may not be the best of friends, but the rivalry between the two drivers and their teams has lit up the 2006 Formula One championship. That looks set to continue all the way to the chequered flag in the season's final race at Interlagos in Brazil. (AP)

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