Fernando Alonso begins his first day of testing at Monza today, and he sat down yesterday to talk about his recent win and what the future holds. Q: Fernando, what have you been doing since Budapest? The first thing was a promotional event for...
Fernando Alonso begins his first day of testing at Monza today, and he sat down yesterday to talk about his recent win and what the future holds.
Q: Fernando, what have you been doing since Budapest?
The first thing was a promotional event for Renault in Poland, and afterwards I spent a few days at home in Oxford. I was relaxing, and training for the next race. Nothing special really.
No. The response to my win has been incredible there -- it was almost too much. If I had gone back straight away, I wouldn't even have been able to walk down the street without attracting attention! The press would have followed me twenty-four hours a day.
Q: Even the King of Spain called you?
Yes, he did. He is a motor racing fan and we have already met a few times, particularly at prize-giving ceremonies. His call after the race in Budapest was extremely important to me. My win was also partly a victory for Spain, and for us, the King is a special figure: to receive a message from him was a real privilege.
Q: Has the win changed anything in your approach to racing?
Not really. From a personal point of view, my first win is a very positive step: I had dreamed about it for a long time! Having said that, I think it has had a bigger impact on the team. Renault has made an incredible effort to get on terms with the other top teams in the last few months, and people have been working very hard, especially on the engine and on integrating the teams at Enstone and Viry. We didn't go to Hungary expecting to win: it's a fantastic bonus for us.
Q: Overall, would you say it was a relatively easy victory for you?
Yes... Qualifying counted for at least 50% of the result, because overtaking is so hard at Budapest. During the first stint of the race I pushed liked mad, and then after that I was looking after the car and the tyres, controlling the gap. I was just worried about hearing strange noises from the car.
Q: Did you expect to be able to win in the way you did?
In my mind, I had seen my first Grand Prix win coming because of mechanical problems with another car: for example, if Schumacher's Ferrari had had a problem in Barcelona. I never expected to win this year after dominating the race quite like that.
Q: Your father was in Hungary to see the win. What did that mean to you?
He didn't go to Malaysia because he doesn't like flying too much, so he missed my first podium. My family has made a lot of sacrifices for my career, and to be able to stand on the top step of the podium in Budapest, look down and see my Dad was a great feeling for me. For him as well, I think.
Q: People see you as a potential World Champion. What's your reaction?
I don't pay any attention. People said good things after Sepang and Barcelona, then the results were less spectacular and less was written about me. I'm sure that after Monza, the press attention will be focused on somebody else again.
Q: The next race is Monza: what are you hoping for?
It will probably be the hardest race of the season for us, and expectations are not huge. Our aim has to be to score more points. Having said that, we expected to be competitive in Budapest, but not competitive enough to win on merit. That might mean Italy has some nice surprises in store!
Q: Finally, is life in F1 as difficult as you imagined it would be?
No: it's even harder! My life has changed a lot this year, and I don't really have time to myself any more. Things like just riding my bike for a few hours, having dinner with friends, or going out bowling until midnight are all impossible now. If that's the price to pay for winning more often, though, I'm not complaining!