Pascal Aragnouet was an engine technician in the Renault F1 Team garage at the time. ‘The Hungarian Grand Prix was at the end of August in 2003 so we’d just returned from holidays. I remember it was very busy when we got back. The car was working well and the whole team was confident so there was an extra impetus as we felt we could get some good results.
‘We arrived in Budapest in an optimistic frame of mind. Benetton had always been strong at the track and – it’s hard to put into words –
we felt that things could go our way again. It was just a feeling, but we were more confident than normal.
We started practice and had no real problems, then qualifying came on Saturday. Fernando went and put it on pole ! We were surprised that we were faster than the Ferraris, but from what Fernando was saying on the radio and in the debriefs, he felt ultra-comfortable in the car and was very confident in himself.
‘Race day came and Fernando kept his lead from the start and managed to pull away at an incredibly fast rate. It came down to his confidence in the car I think. He managed to pull away at around one second a lap and before his first stop he came on the radio and asked what had happened to the rest of the field ! You don’t often hear that…
‘He came in for fuel and there was such a large gap that everything felt very relaxed. That’s until the end of the race, that is. In the closing laps we had such a big margin that you start to think something will happen – a puncture or a technical problem. As it happened he was able to lap almost everyone, even up to fifth place and came home to score his first victory.
‘It was a fantastic feeling after that and it really lifted morale. It was the first win for Fernando and the first for Renault since its return.
We went back to Viry full of motivation and confidence that we could really be a great team. It was there that we really got everything started