Alesi: 'I knew it would be difficult, but...'

JEAN ALESI: Prost-Peugeot AP03

Alesi: 'I knew it would be difficult, but...'

2000 CHAMPIONSHIP: No Points
9th, Nurburgring
7th, Monaco
Qualifying seventh at Monaco and running in the top six at Spa.
Qualifying only 20th at Indianapolis, and colliding with team mate Nick Heidfeld in both Austria and Magny-Cours.
Stays with Prost and is re-united with Ferrari power, but the team's budget is the main question mark.

For Jean Alesi the 2000 season was undoubtedly the most disappointing of a long career in F1. Not only did he fail to score a point for the first time, he only came close once, when a bold stop for dry tyres at Spa allowed him to jump up the order - before the inevitable problems intervened. Apart from that it was a tale of misery. The Prost driver usually started from the eighth or ninth row, and more often than not he was out well before the chequered flag was unfurled, so woefully unreliable was the AP03. He finished just four times, and never on the same lap as the winner. Nevertheless, the 36-year-old has kept the faith with his old pal Alain Prost, and is hoping for better things with next year's Ferrari package. Adam Cooper talked to the Frenchman.

"It's not good and it's been very tough, not to keep the motivation, but to go back to the house every Sunday night and not have the pleasure of having a good result. But fortunately for me it's not my first season, and it's not my last, and I can keep on top of my problems. I really believe my family is helping me a lot in this respect, because it's tough, it's not easy."

"You know, we are talking about good people. I'm not in a position to explain what happened, because the problems didn't come from my side, but from the internal side. I'm just sorry about what happened because I was really believing in these people, Jenkins and Barnard. Alain organised the team and we have to accept his decision and the way he organised the team."

"Yes, sure. When you don't have reliability in a special race like Monte Carlo or when it's raining... Maybe you can do something, but without reliability you don't finish the race. It's not something I can comment on. What I can do is just to make the maximum effort, to keep pushing."

"I knew before the championship that for sure it was going to be difficult - but not like that! But I was prepared to work in a difficult situation."

"Yes, because I was really looking for a good lap time. Everything was going well together, and I was really happy to do it."

"I've been lucky actually to show at least twice that I was there."

"So what do you suggest?"

"Yes and no. I'm not looking for retiring anyway, so I don't see this year like my last season. Maybe one season can change all my life, and that's why I keep pushing like that and looking for my new season."

"Honestly I don't know. I respect very much the team owners, but I know I can do a very good job. I know I'm not a new blood for F1, but I can do my job very well. I believe in that, and I keep pushing. I can't say more."

"Yes, that is my only option. That's true."

"Yes I talked this year because at one time Alain asked me to look around, because maybe he was going to leave. But it was not something clear for anybody, for the teams, and for myself. So it was difficult to manage to move."

"Yes, I was saying maybe, and it was not fair."

"I'm extremely happy about the engine choice anyway, and now we are looking for new improvements for the people."

"The customer engine is a bad word, because if you look at the performance of Sauber, it's better than Peugeot, which is a factory engine. That is a fact, you know. I'm sure it's a fantastic engine."

"Exactly, I think that is really important for Alain."

"I don't know any of this. I don't know anything about it!"

"Yeah, yeah, I believe in him anyway."

"I think it's good to have a tyre competition like that. It's going to be one and one."

"I don't know... I have to respect the choice of the team!"

"Of course yes. When you have a relationship with a company you don't want to have problems."

"Again it was not my decision. When I arrived, everything was set."

"I don't know."

"Yes, podiums but not wins, you know."

"Sure, he's a good guy, and he's working very well. But as you mentioned before, I am close to retiring, so with someone who's supposed to be the best young driver next to me, I haven't done so badly!"

"Yes, but de la Rosa is not a young driver. He's a paying driver, so it's different. A young driver is Trulli, Button, Nick. I don't have a special problem with young drivers. I like very much the way F1 is now, which is for young drivers. But when in Canada in four starts four times you have a car on your shoulder, it's not so good! So that is the reason why I was unhappy about Trulli."

"Exactly. You have to see how it is happening, you know. In Hockenheim I was scared because I was sure I was going to die, you know. At this speed I was not touching the brakes. I saw the car (Diniz) moving and going into my car."

"Yes, because you realise the speed, you realise what is happening... so the emotion is very long."

"I don't think it was a bang on the head... it was a compression in the stomach."

"Er... I can just say that everything went very quickly. I love so much driving, I love so much what I am doing. I cannot believe I did so many years. But in terms of years and capacity, I really feel to be OK."

"Not specially, because it's not something that helps... I have a very good relationship with most of the people here in F1. That's not something I feel a lot, but for sure that's its great because at the beginning when I was coming into F1 it was such a strange world, because I was impressed by everybody. Now I go in and at each team I can stop and talk with people, and that is good."

"I have more control on many things."

"For that, yes."

"I know, but you know what I enjoy most is the racing. That's why at the moment it's difficult for me because I can't race. I'm at the back and I'm just following and I look at the people going away. It's a big shame. I love to overtake, to race."

"For sure it's really impressive what he's doing, and I like to see him when he's the boss like that. I think he's in a very good job. He knows very well the world of F1."

"No."

"To do that, I don't know, but for sure if I stop F1 I will race in something else. You have to understand my situation... I really love to race."

"I raced last year in the winter time I did a rally with a Subaru, in Monza. It was really good, and I enjoyed it a lot."

"I don't know. I will have to wait until the correct time to say what I will do."


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