Alonso makes his mark 04 May 2003
It was not quite the perfect ending. But with the mighty Ferrari F2003-GA making its debut and Michael Schumacher returning dramatically to form, Fernando Alonso's second place for Renault in his home Grand Prix was a remarkable achievement. Indeed the young Spaniard reckons he could have have overtaken both Rubens Barrichello and Michael Schumacher during the first lap.
"It was a very special moment," he explained at the post-race press conference, "our launch control is very good, obviously one of the best or the best in Formula One. I tried to overtake Rubens. I did, at the beginning, but then he took the outside line and they were very close to touching each other and I was ready to pass both of them, but in the end it wasn't possible."
Alonso followed the two Ferraris until his first pit stop, quick work by the Renault team and a clear track then giving him the chance to create a margin over Barrichello's Ferrari. His second place was not seriously threatened until the end of the race. Alonso's team-mate, Jarno Trulli, was forced to retire after a first lap collision with David Coulhard.
"Unfortunately Jarno didn't finish the race," said Alonso, "otherwise probably both Renaults could have been on the podium. We did our maximum, we fought with the Ferrari team which is very good for us and we try to keep this level for the next Grand Prix."
Asked about his and his team's prospects for the rest of the season, Alonso remained upbeat: "We can be competitive on all of the tracks. We saw in Malaysia and Barcelona that we were especially competitive, maybe because they are aerodynamic circuits, and probably we are very strong on that side. But I don't think there are any downsides with the car and we can be competitive for the whole season."