In September 2005, Fernando Alonso won the Formula One World Championship at the age of 24 years and 58 days, breaking Laureus World Sports Academy member Emerson Fittipaldi's record as the youngest ever champion. His triumph ended Michael Schumacher's run of five consecutive championships and made him Spain’s first ever Formula One World Champion. He received personal congratulations from King Juan Carlos of Spain and was awarded the nation’s prestigious Asturias Prize for Sport.
Alonso, in his superb Renault car, was in imperious form throughout an exciting season winning seven Grand Prix – Malaysia, Bahrain, San Marino, European, French, German and Chinese - and recording eight more podium finishes. He fought off a powerful challenge towards the end of the season from McLaren Mercedes driver Kimi Räikkönen.
Alonso became the third-youngest driver to start a race in Formula One history when he made his debut with Minardi in 2001. While the car was not highly competitive, Alonso made a good impression as a driver and joined the newly-founded Renault team in 2002. In 2003 at the Malaysian Grand Prix, Alonso became the youngest driver to take pole position and later that year in Hungary he became the youngest driver, at 22, to win a Formula One Grand Prix. As a result that year he was nominated for the Laureus World Newcomer of the Year Award, eventually losing to teenage golf prodigy Michelle Wie.
Alonso ended the 2004 season fourth in the championship standings, scoring 59 points and being on the podium four times. His performances in the latter races of the year were particularly noteworthy as he comprehensively outpaced his new teammate, 1997 World Champion Jacques Villeneuve, who had replaced Jarno Trulli for the final three races of the season. It was a sign of things to come.