Race review - Alonso takes historic win 24 Aug 2003
Fernando Alonso became the youngest-ever Grand Prix winner and the first Spanish winner in Hungary today after a superb drive saw his Renault R23 finish 16.7s ahead of Kimi Raikkonen.
Brilliant strategy saw the 22 year-old Spaniard burst into the lead in a start that was confused when yellow flags were waved for Cristiano da Matta's stalled Toyota. The key point for Alonso was that Mark Webber, starting third, on the clean side of the grid, jumped straight into second place as the Williams duo of Ralf Schumacher and Juan Pablo Montoya, starting second and fourth, lagged on the dirty side. Schumacher Jnr then compounded his problems by spinning almost to last place in the second corner.
Running a three-stop strategy, Alonso rocketed away and only lost the lead, to Raikkonen, when he made his first stop on lap 13. The Finn stayed ahead until lap 18 when he made his own first stop of three, whereupon Alonso regained an initiative he was never again to lose. He stopped again on laps 30 and 49, and was never again seriously threatened.
The icing on the cake came on the 62nd lap, when Alonso lapped Michael Schumacher. The world champion had a desperate afternoon in his Bridgestone-shod Ferrari, which was the first runner home, in only eighth place, for the Japanese tyre manufacturer.
"It's too many things for one day!" Alonso smiled. "The weekend was fantastic, with pole and now victory it's a dream come true! I'm 22 years old and now I have my first victory in the pocket. I hope I have a long career with lots of them!
"For the first two or three laps Mark was in the mirror, then on the eighth or ninth I asked the team on the radio where the others were and they told me they were 15s away! I pushed quite a lot and had an advantage after the first stint, and did the race quite slowly after that. I didn't have any dramas and an important moment of the race came with nine laps to go when I had Jarno and Michael in front of me and was able to lap them. I had a perfect car through all the race."
In Alonso's wake Raikkonen needed until lap 14 to pass Webber, and did so only when the Jaguar driver made his first of three stops. That delay was crucial for Alonso and Renault, and left their rivals to chase one another home.
Raikkonen was in charge of second place all afternoon once the Jaguar was behind the McLaren, and Rubens Barrichello's chances of third disappeared first when he tried to pass Webber and overshot the top chicane, and later in spectacular style on the 20th lap when his Ferrari crashed heavily in the first turn following a failure in the left rear suspension. That left the way clear for Juan Pablo Montoya to speed through to third, but the Colombian nearly threw it away with a spin on the 62nd lap. He got going again, but had team mate Ralf Schumacher thirsting after him in the closing stages after the German had staged an excellent recovery from his first-lap error.
"I lost a place to Michael at the start," Montoya said. "I couldn't believe it, it was like I was throwing an anchor out as everyone went past me! Passing was quite difficult so I waited for the pit stops and pushed when I could. Clearly we had the fastest car again and I did the fastest lap. When I made my mistake I just backed up too much and as soon as I turned in the car swapped ends, but I got full throttle so it wouldn't go into the gravel.
"I'm one point from Michael, so it proves you've got to push. He was pretty aggressive on the first lap and just threw the car at me, and I was quite surprised by that. But that's racing!"
A two-stop strategy once again earned David Coulthard a well-deserved fifth place, the Scot staying ahead of the valiant Webber. Jarno Trulli had a subdued afternoon, in which he was overshadowed by his team mate and unable to make the same sort of break in the early going. But he was able to hold Schumacher off to the flag to limit the world champion's score for the weekend to a mere point.
The race completely changes the face of the world championship battle. Schumacher still leads, with 72 points, but Montoya has 71 and Raikkonen 70. Ralf Schumacher is still in with a chance on 58.
In the constructors' stakes, Ferrari has lost the lead to Williams. The Anglo-German team has 129 points, Ferrari 121 and McLaren Mercedes 115.