Alonso youngest Grand Prix winner (Updated)

Fernando Alonso, Hungarian GP 2003

Fernando Alonso, Hungarian GP 2003 

 © The Cahier Archive

Fernando Alonso became the youngest ever Grand Prix winner today taking the Hungarian GP in his Renault - the eighth different driver to win this season. The 22-year-old Spaniard took the lead from pole position and dominated the race, winning by 16.7 seconds over second placed Kimi Raikkonen in his McLaren-Mercedes.

Alonso's win is the first ever for a Spanish driver.

For the first stint of the race Jaguar's Mark Webber ran in second place - holding up the field behind him - allowing Alonso to stretch out a 20 second lead, and no doubt helped the Spaniard.

Both Williams-BMW drivers had slow starts off the line, with Ralf Schumacher spinning at the second corner and ending up at the end of the pack, but then worked his way through the field. After running in eighth on the first lap, Juan Pablo Montoya worked his way up to third place with Ralf finishing fourth - with both Williams-BMW's lapping faster than the rest of the field for much of the race. Montoya also had a late race spin, but managed to stay just ahead of his team mate.

David Coulthard in the second McLaren finished fifth - the only top runner on a two-stop strategy. Mark Webber, after running in second place in the early going, finished sixth in his Jaguar. After a battle for a good portion of the race Jarno Trulli finished seventh, just ahead of Michael Schumacher in his Ferrari - who only managed to collect a single point. Schumacher was the first Bridgestone runner - the top seven spots going to Michelin runners.

Last year's winner, Rubens Barrichello, crashed out of the race on the 20th lap heavily into the tire barriers at turn one with what appeared to be a massive rear suspension failure. The Brazilian was unhurt and walked away from the accident.

Zsolt Baumgartner, who replaced Ralph Firman, became the first Hungarian to drive in a Grand Prix in the modern era, but dropped out after 34 laps with an engine failure.

The results tighten up the top of the Drivers Championship, with Michael Schumacher (72 points) now holding on to a one-point advantage over Montoya (71 points) and only a two-point lead over Raikkonen (70 points).

In the Constructors' Championship Williams-BMW have now taken over the top spot (129 points) from Ferrari (121 points), with McLaren-Mercedes closing up the battle in third (115 points).

Alonso - who turned 22-years-old on July 29th - has gone into the history books as the youngest driver to ever win a World Championship event - beating out the previous record holders; American Troy Ruttman who won the 1952 Indianapolis 500 at age 22 years, 80 days, and New Zealand driver Bruce McLaren who won the United States Grand Prix at Sebring in 1959 at the age of 22 years, 104 days.





1. Fernando ALONSO (RENAULT), 1h39m01.460s
2. Kimi RAIKKONEN (McLAREN), 1h39m18.228s (+ 16.768s)
3. Juan Pablo MONTOYA (WILLIAMS), 1h39m35.997s (+ 34.537s)


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?

Alonso: 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?

Alonso: 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.

Raikkonen: 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.

Montoya: 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?

Montoya: 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?

Montoya: 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?

Alonso: 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?

Alonso: 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?

Alonso: 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 realized 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.

Alonso: 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?

Alonso: 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 center 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?

Alonso: 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?

Raikkonen: 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?

Raikkonen: The car in the race was good. I had a little bit of difficulty in the last part of the race with the tires 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?

Raikkonen: 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.

Raikkonen: 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?

Raikkonen: 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.

Montoya: 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?

Montoya: 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?

Montoya: 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?

Montoya: 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?

Montoya: 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?

Raikkonen: 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.

Montoya: 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 organizers invested a lot of money into the new parts of this circuit. Did it make it more enjoyable?

Montoya: For me it was a little bit better, you know, at least I scored some points.

Alonso: 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.

Raikkonen: 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 ?

Montoya: 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.

Raikkonen: 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 favorite in the championship?

Alonso: I don't know. It depends on the tires, 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?

Alonso: 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?

Alonso: 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?

Alonso: 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.


© The Cahier Archive
Michael Schumacher (8th): "Obviously not a great race for me. I spent a lot of time stuck behind a slower car and so could not run at my maximum pace. Then we had a problem with the second pit stop as we were running out of fuel. Basically a lot of things did not go the way we wanted. The championship is now really close and at least I am still leading. Now we have an important test session coming up at Monza, where I am confident we can improve our total package. All we can do now is work hard, with a team which I know is capable of doing exactly that and look forward to the final three races of the year."

Rubens Barrichello (DNF, Accident/Suspension): "I was running a good race when, for reasons I don't know, I lost the left rear wheel and ended up in the crash barriers. Fortunately, I did not hurt myself at all and physically, I am fine. However, I am not at all happy with the fact that I received no medical attention immediately after the accident and shortly afterwards when I was back in the pits. It was a shame for Michael that he was always stuck behind slower cars. In any case, today we were not really competitive, even though I think I could have got a good result."

Jean Todt, Team Principal: "Yesterday, I said that the result of qualifying had been disappointing and today,the race result is even more so. We need to find out what happened on Rubens' car when he had his accident. Michael picked up just one point, which is at least enough to see him maintain his lead in the Drivers' classification, where the battle is now very close with three drivers within two points. However, we have lost the lead in the Constructors' championship and are now eight points behind the leader. We were not competitive today. In a race where pit-stop strategy played a key role, Michael was never able to make the most of running new tires as he always found himself with a slower car ahead of him. The titles will now be decided in the final three races. We must work with our technical partners to try and turn round the situation which has characterized this part of the season. Today is very disappointing, but we know we have the capability to react and return to being competitive at the highest level."

Ross Brawn, Technical Director: "We don't know what caused Rubens' accident. We could see nothing unusual on the telemetry data or from the sensors. It is not something we have experienced before,so now we must wait to get the car back so that we can thoroughly investigate what happened. The race ran badly for us, as we seemed to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. As for Michael, when he made his second stop he was out of fuel and that robbed him of the opportunity of passing Trulli, who was quite slow running ahead of him every time we came out of the pits. I feel the that three stops was the right strategy, but obviously it was a disappointing race for us. I am sure we have what it takes to fight back again."


© The Cahier Archive
Juan Pablo Montoya (3rd): "My start on the dirty side of the track was very bad, it was almost like throwing out an anchor! After the first lap I was in eighth position and it was really hard to pass the cars in front of me and make up for the places I had lost. I was trying for quite a while to overtake Michael but he just closed the door. That's racing. So I preferred waiting for the pit-stops and to see how things would go. I pushed as hard as I could and could get into third place but then, with 10 laps to go I made a mistake and spun. I was lucky enough to keep my position in front of Ralf. I am very happy about the points I scored today, especially because Michael got just one. Our Team is now leading the Championship, this is great!"

Ralf Schumacher (4th): "I have no idea of what happened at the start. I just had no traction. Two corners later I had to be careful not to crash into the rear of Juan's car. That was when I spun. Then I had a pretty good recovery from the far end of the field. It's easy to imagine how things could have gone if I'd had a better start. Whatever happened, I would not have caught Alonso. Of course things are not looking too good for me in the Championship. If I wanted a chance to win the title now, I would need a miracle."

Sam Michael, Chief Operations Engineer: "It was a good day for both Championships as we managed to take the lead in the Constructors' ranking and Juan closed the gap to Michael. Both our drivers did a fantastic job in recovering from 8th and 18th position respectively after the first lap. They should not have been there. It was the result of a terrible start for both cars and what happened in the first two corners. We will look at the launch start before the next race. It is good to see our lap times are the fastest, showing how strong the car is around this type of circuit. Well done to Fernando Alonso for his first win."

Dr. Mario Theissen, BMW Motorsport Director: "After a disastrous start our drivers found themselves in the middle of the pack. During the following confusion Ralf went wide on the outside and spun on the dust there. After the first lap Juan dropped back to eighth and Ralf went even further back, to the back of the field. I believe it was a strong effort from both of them to recover from such disappointing positions and to come third and fourth eventually. Especially at the Hungaroring as it is well known how difficult it is to overtake here. Now we have taken the lead in the Constructors' Championship for the first time this season, and the fight for the Drivers' title is turning into a true thriller as Michael, Juan and Kimi are so close at the top."


© The Cahier Archive
Kimi Raikkonen (2nd): "I'm very happy with today's result as we have closed the gap in the World Championship significantly. At the start I initially tried to go on the outside of Rubens, but he closed the gap, so I went on the inside and managed to gain three places, and after the first couple of laps I was third. I lost quite a lot time stuck behind Webber which allowed Alonso to open up a gap and after that there was nothing I could do. The car was the best it's been all weekend and everybody in the team has been working very hard. I'm looking forward to the last three races, and I know we will give it 100 percent and I can't wait."

David Coulthard (5th): "An excellent result for the team, a reasonable outcome for me and the Championship has once again been thrown wide open. The two stop strategy was the right one taking into consideration my ninth place on the starting grid, and it allowed me to gain positions during the race when our car usually performs better than in qualifying. I made a good start and was able to gain three places. Apart from that, the 70 laps were rather uneventful and were all about keeping the guys with less fuel behind me."

Ron Dennis, Team Principal: "A great team performance. A good drive from both Kimi and David and a well executed strategy complimented by excellent tires from Michelin. That said, we didn't win and that is certainly what we will be trying to do in the last three races."

Norbert Haug, Mercedes Motorsport Director: "A first class race in which we finished ahead of our main championship title contenders. A super job by Kimi and David who made the best from his grid position - three title candidates within three points before the remaining three races are a guarantee for a great end to the season. Compliments to our tire partner Michelin who have done a great job so far, and we as a team will certainly do everything to further improve our common performance."


© The Cahier Archive
Fernando Alonso (1st): "I have said it a lot this year, but this is the best day of my life. The car was perfect, the strategy too, and I managed to drive a consistent race. We had some problems on Friday, but the team worked hard to overcome them. Personally, I want to say a big thank you to the whole team, here at the track but also back at the factories in France and England. I am proud to be racing for Renault: winning this for them, and becoming the first driver from my country to win a Grand Prix, is fantastic."

Jarno Trulli (7th): "First of all, it is a special day for the team, and I want to congratulate Fernando and all the team. My race began with an excellent start, and made the most of Rubens? mistake to overtake: we had a good fight. However, at the start of each stint, I lost grip almost immediately: the car was sliding all over the place. It is disappointing to lose a position compared to where I qualified, but I still managed to keep Michael behind during the final stint."

Pat Symonds, Executive Director of Engineering: "I think this finally confirms the improvement the team has made this year, and the promise we have shown all season. It is always good to win, but particularly so when it is done in such a dominant fashion, from pole. Before the race, I am sure many thought our strategy was too aggressive: I think we have vindicated our decision. We must not forget Jarno, who fought right through the race and did very well to hold off Michael in the latter stages. I want to congratulate the whole team and all those behind our victory today, including the excellent job done by our technical partners."

Flavio Briatore, Managing Director: "A fantastic day for Renault, for the team and for Fernando. He drove a perfect race, and we made the right choices with the strategy. This win proves the work that our people in Viry-Chatillon and Enstone have accomplished. The champagne tastes good: we will now work even harder to make sure the next win isn?t too long coming."


© The Cahier Archive
Nick Heidfeld (9th): "On one hand it's a shame to finish ninth, just out of the points, but on the other, looking at the drivers who finished in front of me, I think I did a good job. The start was quite good initially but when it got chaotic I wasn't able to move up as much as I thought I would be able to. My result also confirmed once again the improvements we made to the C22 over the past weeks. We were able to score better than our direct competitors who are using the same tires, Jordan and BAR."

Heinz-Harald Frentzen (DNF, Fuel): "This race was a pleasure for me until I ran out of fuel. The team obviously instructed me to come into the pits but the radio didn't work, so I didn't hear them. When they indicated to me with my pit stop board, I was just behind Kiesa and didn't see the signal. It's a sum of unlucky circumstances."

Peter Sauber, Team Principal: "Despite the test break in August we've been able to make clear steps forward. Nick had a very good race and the chosen strategy was the optimum. We can say that both chassis and engine were working perfectly today. Heinz-Harald had a rather unlucky weekend. Due to a mistake by the team he was handicapped in yesterday's qualifying, and today he ran out of fuel due to unfortunate circumstances."


© The Cahier Archive
Zsolt Baumgartner (DNF, Engine): "Today was a great opportunity for me and I'm very upset that I couldn't finish the race. I think I made a good start and was in 15th when I had to retire. But that's just motorsport: technical defects can happen and unfortunately they happened to Giancarlo and me today. It was a great feeling to drive here in front of the fans and see them so happy. It's a shame but I enjoyed the race while it lasted and I hope I can be in Formula One in the future."

Giancarlo Fisichella (DNF, Engine): "The engine blew up for the third time this weekend. I had a good start but the car was quite difficult, there was a lot of oversteer and it was quite easy to make mistakes."

Gary Anderson, Director of Race and Test Engineering: "Just when you think things can't get much worse they often do. The package is chassis, engine and tires: the first Bridgestone runner came home 8th after being lapped, neither of our engines lasted and our car is not quick enough, so altogether it's pretty frustrating. Zsolt took the pressure and got on with the job as best as he could. His objective was to keep it neat and tidy, not make any mistakes and get it to the flag. It was our package that let the drivers down."

Ralph Firman: "The result is a shame for the team and obviously I was disappointed and frustrated about not to be able to take part myself. I feel fine although a little bit sore in the neck and my left heel but I'm confident that I'll be okay to participate in the Monza test in a couple of weeks. I can't wait to get back in the car and put some more miles in."


© The Cahier Archive
Mark Webber (6th): "I really enjoyed that race but it was hard! Hard on the car, hard on the tires and hard on the driver but what a reward at the end of it. The first few laps were particularly difficult with expected graining on the front tires. Rubens then tried passing me at the top chicane but he went straight on instead which was nice! I then tried keeping the McLaren of Kimi Raikkonen at bay and after that it was just a case of keeping the pace and maximizing upon our three-stop strategy. I pushed extremely hard and just kept the qualifying laps rolling in one after another until the team came on the radio towards the end and told me to back off. The team has done a super job today and all thanks to everyone back at Milton Keynes too. The Jaguar R4 performed faultlessly today and Michelin's contribution towards that is significant. We have been working very hard behind the scenes to understand better some of the issues we have suffered at the last couple of races and today it paid off. We share equal billing now with BAR-Honda in 5th place and with only three races left, there is everything to play for. It will be far from easy but today's result has helped considerably. I am delighted with the outcome."

Justin Wilson (DNF, Engine): "Another disappointing end to what began as a good race. I started from the dirty side of the track and didn't have a very easy start as everyone charged into the tight first hairpin. The rhythm and pace of the Jaguar was good and the balance was getting the best out of the Michelin tires. My first two pit stops went according to plan but on lap 44, I lost power and had no choice but to retire. A big shame but the three-day Monza test will prepare me better for the next race ? a race that I hope to finish this time and help the team in their points with BAR-Honda and Toyota."

Mark Gillan, Head of Vehicle Performance: "A weekend that began quite tough on Friday, got better into Saturday with Mark qualifying 3rd and has ended with three championship points. Not much more we could have asked for. The result is extra special because we scored the points on merit today and not at the misfortune of others. Apart from Rubens Barrichello in the Ferrari who was behind Mark at the time of his retirement, none of the big three teams suffered from problems today and for Mark to have held his own is reflective of how well the Jaguar R4 performed around this track. Let's not also forget that Mark was in 3rd place for quite some time during the race and his race pace was good. At this stage of our development, we don't see ourselves competing with the big three and today has demonstrated the improvements we have made relative to last year. The Michelin input has been nothing short of sensational over the past few weeks and coupled with the reliability of the package, we now go to Monza with a straight fight on our hands with BAR-Honda and Toyota. Justin's retirement today was very unfortunate given how well he was running in 12th place when he stopped with a suspected engine failure. His laps were competitive and given how little experience he has with us, the fact that he again has not completed a race distance with us is very disappointing. He is climbing his learning curve very well and our three-day test at Monza next month should prepare him well for what will surely be a telling weekend for us in championship status terms. For now, we will go back to Milton Keynes extremely happy about our all-around performance this weekend and focus hard on the three tough races ahead of us."


© The Cahier Archive
Jenson Button (10th): "I got a pretty bad start and Jacques came flying past me, so there must have been a big difference in the launch starts we got. On top of that I didn't make the best of the second corner; I was round the outside and then Ralf spun off and I almost hit him. I finally got past Frentzen and Verstappen and then the car was working reasonably well and I was making good progress, but then I had a problem with the differential failing. This made the car very oversteery and difficult to drive so, all in all, not a great race. Obviously we now need to push very hard for points in the last three races."

Jacques Villeneuve (DNF, Hydraulics): "We knew we would be much better in race set-up - and we were. It went really well at the start and I was able to make up six places in the first lap, despite having a lot of fuel on board, so things were looking good for a point or two. The track was very dusty but my car was working well. We knew for a couple of laps that things were starting to go wrong and I had reports that I was losing hydraulic pressure. In the end I had no choice but to retire. It's not a good day but we just have to continue working hard. There are three races to go and, who knows, maybe we can get a good result by the end of the year."

David Richards, Team Principal: "In spite of the disappointment of Jacques' retirement after such a great start, and Jenson finishing outside the points, we still have to remain positive. Our qualifying strategy was borne out in the race but nonetheless, it's becoming very clear that the latter part of this year is going to be very hard-fought for fifth place in the Championship."

Geoffrey Willis, Technical Director: "This is a very frustrating end to a difficult weekend. Jacques had an excellent start, making up six places by the end of the first lap. He was making good progress on his two-stop strategy and the car was working much better in the race as we expected. Shortly before his first stop, we started to get an indication that there was a hydraulic leak and we had to retire the car. We do not yet know the source of the problem but this will be thoroughly investigated. By contrast, Jenson's start was very poor, his starting point on the grid having very low grip which left him down in 17th. Despite this, he was able to make good progress, again on a two-stop race. He was also handicapped by a differential fault, which required us to run in failsafe mode. Despite this he ran a very strong race, and throughout the latter part of the race he was the fastest Bridgestone runner, but unfortunately finished out of the points."

Shuhei Nakamoto, Honda Engineering Director: "Jenson did very well to finish 10th under the circumstances. He managed to put in competitive lap times throughout the race despite an intermittent engine driveability problem. Jacques made a great start and he was looking good so to be forced out of the action so early was really frustrating. We're now focusing all our efforts on the next test and race in Italy."


Jos Verstappen (12th): "I had a good start and made up some places and once the race settled down, I was able to lap consistently. I think this has been one of the better races of the season for us although it is clear that we are still not able to run at the speed of the other cars yet. From a personal point of view, I thought this race might also be a tough one physically, but I was pleased to find that I felt good when I climbed out of the car at the end. All told, it has been a positive weekend for us."

Nicolas Kiesa (13th): "I made a mistake at the start, when I engaged first gear but forgot to activate the launch control. That delayed me when the race got under way, but it was okay once I got going. The chassis set-up we chose meant we had to sacrifice our qualifying performance yesterday, but it definitely helped us in the race. I had a better car for the race this afternoon than I had in Hockenheim and I managed to let the faster cars through without reducing my own performance as much. I was able to put the knowledge from Germany to good use and am pleased to have taken the chequered flag for the second Grand Prix in a row. It's a good way to start my Formula One career."

Paul Stoddart, Team Principal: "First of all, our congratulations go to Fernando and the Renault team for what can only be described as a fantastic weekend ? pole position, followed by a faultless race performance. Throughout his time at Minardi, not one person in the team ever doubted that today would happen. What is equally certain is that there will be many more days like this. For our own race, it's always pleasing to get a two-car finish, particularly in a Grand Prix where reliability was such an issue. Both Jos and Nicolas drove faultlessly and the team was solid in all six pit stops this afternoon. We simply lacked pace today."


© The Cahier Archive
Cristiano Da Matta (11th): "Firstly, I want to apologize to the team for stalling on the grid. From 15th, I was looking for a good start, however I got on the launch button a bit too quickly. I hit the brakes to avoid jumpstarting but there was not enough time for the anti-stall to kick in. The team got me started again in the pitlane, but by that point I was over a lap down and I had to really push hard to make up ground. The car's balance was still towards the oversteer side, but the overall grip was good, so I am naturally disappointed with this result."

Olivier Panis (DNF, Gearbox): "Understandably, we are all a little bit disappointed. I came in for my second stop and when I went to drive away I heard a noise and knew instantly what had happened. Of course, these things can happen sometimes, but we need to find out exactly what went wrong. The car felt good up to that point and after losing five places at the start, I was making good progress through the field. Despite this result, we are continuing to head in a good direction, so we need to prepare well for the next race in Monza. I am looking forward to the Italian Grand Prix because Monza is a track that should suit our car, and I believe we should be in a strong position to pick up points there."

Ove Andersson, Team Principal: "I think we had a quite competitive car for today's Hungarian Grand Prix, but unfortunately we were not able to capitalize on this. Cristiano had a problem at the start, which effectively ended his race and Olivier was driving a strong race before his gearbox broke. Even without these problems, I think it would have been very difficult for us to score points in today's race. The team has worked well throughout this weekend, and we are shortly heading for a test in Monza before the Italian Grand Prix in three weeks' time - where I think we can be optimistic for a good points finish."

Print Story