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Triumphant Renault aim for final flourish
Alan Baldwin | August 25, 2003 18:12 IST
Team boss Flavio Briatore has long hailed Alonso as Michael Schumacher's heir apparent and the 22-year-old was unstoppable on Sunday as he lapped Ferrari's world champion on his way to victory.
Both Alonso and Briatore said afterwards that the final Japanese Grand Prix in October could offer another chance for Renault, assured of fourth place overall and now with their first win as a constructor in 20 years.
"Probably Suzuka is maybe the best remaining one for us," said Alonso, considering the last three races. "But I think we can be in the points at all the circuits.
"Probably Monza and Indianapolis are not that clear but maybe at Suzuka we can have another podium."
After Japan, the world was next on his list.
"The next step will be to fight for the world championship like these guys as soon as possible," said Alonso after appearing on the podium with Finland's Kimi Raikkonen and Colombian Juan Pablo Montoya.
"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 top teams and maybe fight for more victories in a good position in the championship."
Briatore, the former Benetton team boss who steered Schumacher to his first two world championships and introduced Alonso to Formula One with Minardi in 2001, agreed.
"Alonso had the perfect car for this circuit, we won it squarely, we controlled the race," he said.
"I think we can be quick in every race. Hockenheim was good, let's see what happens at Monza. Japan, I think, can be very good for us and America as well."
Briatore was criticised when he replaced Briton Jenson Button with Alonso at the end of last year but, glass of champagne in hand, he felt vindicated.
"He (Alonso) is very consistent, he is a racer," he said of the Spaniard. "You saw the way he overtook people under blue flags, he's amazing. He's a killer.
"This is a very good victory, fantastic for Spain and Renault. He's a young driver and we are a very young team.
"Everybody criticised us but we work while people talk. I was criticised for choosing Friday testing, I was criticised for choosing Fernando. A lot of people criticised me but this is part of the game."
Renault are one of four teams who opted to limit testing in exchange for two hours of private running at the circuit on Fridays before grands prix.
Webber, a former Renault test driver, seized second place at the start as the cars on the dirty side of the track struggled and then held up the field as Alonso roared into the distance.
By the time they got past Webber at the first pitstops, Alonso was on his way to history.