Considering he only scored one point at Monza, Renault's Fernando Alonso was pretty pleased with the result. After winning in Budapest, it might seem a pretty paltry point haul, but Spaniard loved how he had to right, from start to finish,...
Considering he only scored one point at Monza, Renault's Fernando Alonso was pretty pleased with the result. After winning in Budapest, it might seem a pretty paltry point haul, but Spaniard loved how he had to right, from start to finish, to score points.
"We knew this track wouldn't suit us as much as the others," he said. "Our ambitions were well in check when we arrived at Monza, especially as the other teams had done lots of testing there the week before during private testing. As a result, our Friday morning session was less useful than usual."
On Saturday morning, though, things were not looking so good. "I didn't manage to get a good balance on the car," he explained. "I had lots of understeer, and we couldn't get to the bottom of the problem." And it didn't end there. "In qualifying, a major electrical failure meant the traction control cut out. I didn't know, and spun at the first corner." The price of the failure was 20th position, last on the grid.
The Renault F1 Team engineers thought long and hard before deciding to keep Fernando on the grid, rather than filling the tank and letting him start from the pit-lane. Unfortunately, though, fate struck again at the start.
"The launch control worked well -- too well almost -- and I hit Jos' Minardi as he was avoiding the Jaguar that had stalled." The R23B took off, landed heavily, and broke the front wing. Fernando was forced to come back into the pits.
"From that point on, I knew there was nothing to do but attack. I gave everything, lap after lap, but then made a mistake at the first chicane: I straight-lined it, and damaged the barge-boards on the kerbs. The car had been pretty difficult to drive, with lots of oversteer, but after that incident it became pretty neutral, so after making sure everything was OK, I carried on attacking."
His determination paid off. Running tenth just a few minutes before the end of the race, Fernando benefited from Heinz-Harald Frentzen's retirement and climbed into ninth, on the tail of eight-place Nick Heidfeld. Both were lapped by Marc Gen? and, immediately afterwards, Fernando took advantage into the first chicane, on the last lap, to get past.
"And that was how I got an unlikely eighth place!" he smiled. "It just goes to show that you should never give up in F1. It's also a small reward for the team, who worked really hard to give me a competitive car for the race."