24 August 2003
Hungarian GP 2003 - Alonso sweeps the field.
Fernando Alonso completed his rout of the Formula One record book by rewriting another few pages at the end of a Hungarian Grand Prix in which he proved to be the class of the field.
Having become the youngest polewinner in Malaysia, the Spaniard not only became the first of his race to win a grand prix, but also broke Bruce McLaren's 44-year old record of being the youngest man to do so. In addition, he also re-entered the name of Renault into the win column, following the twenty-year hiatus that followed Alain Prost's last victory for the regie.
Alonso made the most of his unexpected pole position, and starting from the 'clean' side of the track, to make a clean break as the lights went out, his Renault's launch control kicking in perfectly to carry him clear of any potential first corner accident. Behind him, Ralf Schumacher, from second on the grid, tried in vain to keep the baying pack behind him.
As the German's wheels spun on the Hungaroring's notorious layer of dust, Mark Webber and Kimi Raikkonen both shot past him, with Rubens Barrichello sandwiched between Jaguar and McLaren, all having taken advantage of their odd-numbered starting slots. Schumacher found himself pushed out wide at the reprofiled first corner, almost making contact with team-mate Juan Montoya, who had been similarly hampered from grid four.
Schumacher then compounded his poor getaway by out-braking himself into turn two, the Williams-BMW swapping ends in front of the midfield runners, and sending the German to the back of those still running. Only the luckless Cristiano da Matta, who had endured a difficult weekend, was further adrift having been restarted in pit-lane after failing to get away with the rest of the field.
At the end of the first lap, with the track surface having done its best to shake-up the pack, Alonso led with Webber, Barrichello and Raikkonen in his mirrors. The second Renault of Jarno Trulli was next up, with David Coulthard, Michael Schumacher - from a seasons-worst eighth on the grid - Montoya and Nick Heidfeld completing the top ten. Further back, Jenson Button had also had a startline nightmare, dropping to 18th, behind Hungarian newcomer Zsolt Baumgartner, and with just Schumacher Jr, Nicolas Kiesa and da Matta behind him.
It was clear that the leader had a speed advantage over second place and, as Webber did his best to fend off the attentions of those behind him, Alonso made hay. Three seconds to the good after two laps, the gap continued to grow as Barrichello, Raikkonen and Trulli all sought a way past the Jaguar.
Barrichello's best effort came to more than nought after he out-braked Webber, and then himself, into the tight chicane at the back of the circuit. Overshooting his turn-in point, the Brazilian courteously allowed Webber back ahead in order not to incur a penalty for gaining an illicit advantage, but slipped up as both Raikkonen and Trulli also dived through. The melee allowed Alonso to eke out another few seconds and, by the end of lap four with another fastest tour in his pocket, the Spaniard was already ten ticks to the good.
Renault's protégé continued to rattle off fastest lap after fastest lap, lowering the target time to 1min 23.0 by the time he made his first pit-stop on lap 13. McLaren boss Ron Dennis had ventured far enough to claim that the likes of Alonso and Webber had to have been running very light to have secured their respective grid positions, and the timing of the frontrunners various pit-stops was closely watched to see if their advantage was likely to be short-lived.
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