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FIA post-race press conference - Hungary 24 Aug 2003

1st Place Fernando Alonso (ESP) Renault R23 
Formula One World Championship, Rd13, Hungarian Grand Prix, Race Day, Hungaroring, Hungary, 24 August 2003

POST RACE PRESS CONFERENCE - 24 AUGUST 2003
1. Fernando ALONSO (RENAULT), 1h39m01.460s
2. Kimi RAIKKONEN (McLAREN), 1h39m18.228s (+ 16.768s)
3. Juan Pablo MONTOYA (WILLIAMS), 1h39m35.997s (+ 34.537s)


Published with permission of the Federation Internationale De l' Automobile.

Q: Fernando, history today: youngest ever Grand Prix winner, first Spaniard, first win for Renault for 20 years; over to you!
Fernando ALONSO:
Too many things for one day for me at the moment! But yeh, the weekend was fantastic, pole position and now the victory for me is a dream comes true. I'm 22 years old and I have my first victory in my pocket so I hope I can have a long career in Formula One with more victories.

Q: It must have been a rather strange start to the race for you; you must have wondered where everybody had got to...
FA:
Yeah, yeah. At the beginning, for the first two or three laps, I had Mark Webber in the mirror and then in the eighth or ninth lap I asked my team 'where are the others' and they told me '15 seconds away' and I thought 'oh my God, I am very fast now.' Yeah, the first stint was very important for the result of the race and I pushed quite a lot in the first stint and I had a big advantage, big gap and I did the race quite slowly after that.

Q: And towards the end you lapped your team-mate and Michael Schumacher; did you have any dramas?
FA:
No, no. It was an important moment of the race. Nine laps to go I had Jarno and Michael in front of me. I lapped them. Obviously they had more problems than me. I had a perfect car throughout the race and I have to say thank you to the team as well.

Q: Kimi, seventh to third on the first lap, a great start and that really set the tone of the race for you.
Kimi RAIKKONEN:
Yeah, I got a very good start actually. I tried to go outside again but Barrichello blocked me this time and I needed to brake in the straight but then I went on the inside and then back to the outside and everybody else moved to the inside of the corner and I was able to brake on the clean side and got many places. Then I got past Barrichello when he made a mistake. I was stuck for a little while behind Webber which cost quite a lot of time but Alonso was able to pull away, but that's racing. I'm quite happy with second place from seventh and it's better now in the championship of course.

Q: That's certainly the case: Michael 72 points, Juan Pablo 71 and you 70 points.
KR:
Yeah, it's more closer, anything can happen in the race and hopefully we can improve the car and be quick in the next race also.

Q: Juan Pablo, you actually lost a position to Michael at the start so let's take it from there.
JPM:
I was P8 into turn one. I couldn't believe it. I let the button go, and everybody went past like we were not even accelerating. Came round the first corner in P8. I actually gained a place - I actually was behind Ralf first P9 or P10 when I went into turn one. I managed to get to P8 and then... Passing was quite difficult so I just really waited for the pit stops, then people pitted and I had a clear track and I pushed. We clearly had probably the fastest car again - I did the fastest lap of the race but apart from that everything went pretty well. I made a mistake with ten laps to go. I spun; I just backed off too much. I lifted and just lost the rear.

Q: The spin, it looked spectacular. Describe that a bit more; what were your thoughts at that moment?
JPM:
I just went into the corner and as soon as I turned in it swapped ends on me and the first thing that I did was go full throttle so it wouldn't go backwards into the gravel. Then into first gear and go again.

Q: You said before this race you were thinking of points, thinking of the championship. You're now one point away from Michael; what's your attitude going to be towards the end of the season?
JPM:
Well, you've gotta push. You have got to make sure you push. Michael has been pretty aggressive in racing. On the first lap I was going round the outside of him in turn two and he just threw his car at me completely. I was a bit shocked by that but if that's the way he's racing, that's the way he's racing. But that doesn't really help him at the moment. He needed to score points today and he took one point.

Q: Fernando, I guess what's happened to you sinks in a little bit more with every passing moment. Think about Spain, what's happening there?
FA:
In Spain there will be a big passion there because a lot of people is now involved in Formula One and it gets more interesting and with this race. Formula One will be very big in Spain and that's good.

Q: Fernando, fantastic race. What about that slowing down lap and the podium, what were you thinking? What's it like to win?
FA:
Nothing really at the moment. It is too early because it's like a dream at the moment. The last part of the race was quite exciting. Ten laps to go, something like that, I heard noises from the engine, from the gearbox, in my mind. (Laughter). You know everything was going wrong, but at the end I crossed the line and I was very happy for the team as well, because the weekend was fantastic for us: the pole, the race. They need this victory to grow up and next year I hope to have more chances to win.

Q: Were you fairly confident coming here? When did it really manifest itself that you could be on the podium?
FA:
Well, before coming here I had a good feeling because I love the track. I really like the track here in Budapest and I really wanted to have a good race. After qualifying, on the pole, I realised I had a good chance to go on the podium and then probably in the first stint I started to think of victory because in 12 or 13 laps I was 20 seconds ahead and I really took it easy with 15 laps to go.

Q: One of my colleagues suggested that that was what was going to happen: you were going to lead and Mark Webber was going to hold everybody else up for you.
FA:
At the end it was right. I had a quite an easy race after the first stint.

Q: Williams BMW dominated the German Grand Prix and yet you dominated this one; how do you explain that?
FA:
It is difficult to explain. Obviously we are not fighting for races, for victories or for the championship. But the Renault car was fantastic here all weekend, we don't know why, probably because the chassis was fantastic here. The engine is maybe not very powerful but we have a very light engine, very low centre of gravity and for this type of corners it was fantastic.

Q: Do you think one of the remaining three circuits could be suited to you?
FA:
I don't know. Probably Suzuka is maybe the best remaining one for us. But I think we can be in the points, in the first places, in all the circuits. Probably Monza and Indianapolis are not that clear but maybe at Suzuka we can have another podium, I hope.

Q: Kimi, that was just the result you needed wasn't it?
KR:
Yeah, of course you hope to win but that was not possible and second place was the best that we could to today. I am quite happy with that. Seventh to second is a good race and many points for us.

Q: How was the car?
KR:
The car in the race was good. I had a little bit of difficulty in the last part of the race with the tyres and then they started to work again but it was much better than it was in qualifying yesterday.

Q: How badly were you held up by the Jaguar early on?=
KR:
I think I was more than a second quicker per lap straight after he went into the pits but I was not able to pass him quick enough and Alonso pulled away, but that's racing. It is important that I got more points than Montoya and Schumacher.

Q: What about the pace of Fernando, he was just disappearing.
KR:
Like I said, that's when we were stuck behind Webber. I don't know if he was quicker all time or not but once he is 20 seconds in front of you it is pretty difficult to catch anyone. I just tried to keep my second place and it was quite easy then.

Q: One point behind Juan Pablo, is this where the ice man has to keep his head now?
KR:
It has been pretty good results for us now. The championship is pretty close, anything can happen now. Hopefully we can have some new parts for the car because it is basically the same as the start of the season and we need to get something new now. We will get a new aero package for the next test and hopefully it will work out in the next race.

Q: Juan Pablo, it is pretty exciting for you in the championship.
JPM:
I think at the start of the race I was joking, you know, that if I have a bad start I would lose a place or two at worst and I was like P9 out of turn one, I couldn't believe it. Everybody out-dragged off into turn one. After that we had a really good pace. I set the fastest lap of the race, I got two fastest sectors and Ralf got the other one so that would show we have probably got the quickest car out there. But when you are P8 and the other guy has got a clear track you cannot do anything about it. I had a clear track for the last 20 laps.

Q: When you had that spin, what were your thoughts then?
JPM:
I backed off a little bit and I was keeping a lot of throttle through there and one I just lifted a little bit too much and just locked the rears.

Q: And Ralf, how close did he come?
JPM:
He came a little bit close and I asked the team are we racing and they said yes, Ralf is about to pass, and I just pushed a little bit and pulled a little bit away from him. I was always a bit quicker than him and I was miles quicker than Jarno so I knew I had as good a pace as him and I knew it was going to be okay.

Q: It is extraordinary the way you dominated in Hockenheim and Fernando dominated here. Can you explain that?
JPM:
I think if we had had a good start I don't know if we would have beaten him but I think we could have given him a hard time. Overtaking is very difficult; we had a big speed advantage on the straight so it was going to be a matter of strategy. But at the second corner I was P8 and Ralf was at the back.

Q: Juan, was your bad start related to the wrong line or any other problem?
JPM:
No, I think just the wrong line. Generally people on the right had a slower start than people on the left. I did mention to Charlie (Whiting) yesterday that it was very difficult because last year we had a warm-up and people starting on the right would go there and clear it up a bit. This year you don't know where you start until after qualifying and the next time you go through there is the start of the race. I said to Charlie that you are going to see people on the right lose a lot of places and I think something is going to have to be done about that because it is just horrendous.

Q: Kimi and Juan, how do you think your cars will perform in the next three races coming up?
KR:
I think Indianapolis should be pretty good for us. Monza last year was quite difficult but like I said we should get some new parts for the car, a new engine also and hopefully we can be stronger there.
JPM: I think the last two years we have been really strong in Monza. It can be a good circuit for us but it can be good for Ferrari as well. I think Indy is a track where we can really beat them and Japan, they have been very strong in the last few years but on tracks like that we have been quick so in Japan it is going to be a close race.

Q: The organisers invested a lot of money into the new parts of this circuit. Did it make it more enjoyable?
JPM:
For me it was a little bit better, you know, at least I scored some points.
FA: It was a little bit better as well, more opportunities to overtake, maybe not to overtake but when you lap someone they have more opportunity to let you pass. It was not a big, big change in the track but it was a little bit better.
KR: I enjoy the circuit more now. There are still parts you can improve, especially on the safety side, but the circuit itself is quite nice to drive.

Q: Juan Pablo and Kimi, would it be particularly nice to overtake Michael in the World Championship in Monza?
JPM:
I don't care where I pass him. He has to win the championship; we have to work for it. We are only one point away and if we can finish ahead of him in the next race then we are going to be leading the championship but we have to wait to see where Kimi ends up and everything. I think it is going to be quite an exciting end to the season.
KR: I guess it doesn't matter where you pass him in the points as long as you can do it then that is the main thing.

Q: Fernando, between Michael, Juan Pablo and Kimi, at this point who, in your opinion, is more favourite in the championship?
FA:
I don't know. It depends on the tyres, they will be the key to the championship. The Michelins have been more competitive in the last three or four races. Probably Kimi and Juan Pablo had a little more options to win the championship. And between the two of them, the more consistent driver, you know, there are three races and if they have one retirement or something then they lose the championship so they have to be very consistent.

Q: Fernando, you said you are hoping for a long career. What is the next step?
FA:
I said that I am 22 years old, I had my first victory already and I have a lot of time in Formula One I hope. The next step will be to fight for the World Championship like these guys as soon as possible. I am in a big team. Next year we already have a good project to do, the new car should be a lot better than this year's car and hopefully we will close the gap with the top teams and maybe next year we fight for more victories in a good position in the championship.

Q: What did you think when you overtook Schumacher?
FA:
It was a good feeling. When you lap Schumacher it is always good because you are having a good race but it was nothing special. There was also my team-mate Jarno there and you know I tried not to disturb them too much in their fight.

Q: Fernando, after Minardi when Briatore and Renault asked you to be a test driver was it worth it or do you feel you lost a year?
FA:
I don't know. Obviously, racing is much better for any racing driver. Last year if I was in the car I am sure I would do a good job but they had very good drivers as well last year, Jenson and Jarno, and for me a year of testing is a good opportunity to learn a lot of things from the car, from the engineers and I came into this year stronger than 2002 and I think it was a positive thing to do.