Fernando Alonso won his first race in Formula 1 at 2003 Hungarian GP where he started from pole position in his Renault R23B and gave French manufacturer first win since their return to sport in 2002.

In 2002, Alonso became Renault test driver after succesfull debut season for Minardi and did not compete in Formula 1 2002, but in 2003 he became a regular driver alongside Jarno Trulli and won his first pole position in Malaysia. In Canada, he set his first fastest lap and in Hungary his first win after a convincing performance from pole position.

Renault’s R23 had a V10 engine with a 111 degrees V-angle (in 2004 and 2005 they used more ordinary 72 degrees), resulting in lower center of gravity, but also vibration problems, less power and more weight than their rivals. However, on tracks like Monaco and Hungary, where their 100 HP gap behind BMW was not so visible, Renault’s car was very fast.

Nevertheless, nobody expected another pole position for Renault, let alone win, but this was exactly what happened thanks to the fantastic Alonso’s drive on the hot and dusty Hungaroring where Michelin dominated the Bridgestone which did not like the high temperatures.

Hungarian GP F1 2003 start Photo Ferrari
Start of 2003 Hungarian GP (Photo: Ferrari)

This was first race weekend on the new configuration of Hungaroring, which included a longer start finish straight and a sharper first corner. Alonso set a lap 1:21.688, 0.256 seconds faster than Ralf Schumacher in the BMW Williams, 0.339 seconds faster than Webber in Jaguar and 0.492 seconds faster than Montoya and Barrichello, who set the same time, but Montoya started in front because he set his time first.

The drivers starting from the even starting positions started badly due to dusty track surface outside the racing line, so after the first laps Alonso led Webber, Barrichello, Raikkonen, Trulli, Coulthard, Michael Schumacher and Montoya. Ralf Schumacher spun in the second corner and fell at the back of the grid.

Alonso took advantage of slower Webber and created a tremendous 7.384 seconds advantage after just three laps and after 10 laps the advantage was 18.447 seconds. Alonso and Webber were the lightest in qualifying and entered the pits after 13 laps, Raikkonen after 15, and Montoya after 16.

The Spaniard won with 16.768 seconds ahead of Raikkonen and 34.537 seconds ahead of Montoya while Ralf Schumacher managed to recover and reach fourth place, just one second behind Montoya. Coulthard finished fifth, Webber sixth, Trulli seventh, and Michael Schumacher eight. Barrichello retired after suspension failure going into the first corner in lap 19.

fernando-alonso-renault-r23-first-win-hungary-gp-hungaroring-f1-2003-foto-francef1
Alonso celebrates his first career victory in Hungary at the wheel of Renault R23B (24.8.2003) Foto: francef1

After 13 of the 16 races, Schumacher was still ahead in the drivers championship with 72 points, but Montoya (71) and Raikkonen (70) were within two points of the leader.

“I’ve said it many times this year, but this is the best day of my life,” said the delighted Alonso.

“Car was perfect, as well as strategy, and I managed to run a consistent race. We had some problems on Friday, but the team worked hard to solve them. Personally, I want to thank the entire team here on the track but also at the factories in France and England. ”

“I’m proud to race for Renault, win this race for them and become the first driver from my country who won the Grand Prix race is really fantastic.”

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