Sunday May 27th, 2001
Jean Alesi and Alain Prost were smiling with satisfaction for the first time in more than 18 months on Sunday after seeing their efforts rewarded with a sixth-place finish in the Monaco Grand Prix.
It was the team's first point since Italian Jarno Trulli finished second at the European Grand Prix at the Nurburgring in September, 1999, and Alesi's first since he came sixth for Sauber at the Japanese Grand Prix in October that year.
"This first point is such a great thing for me that I have a feeling that today is a new start for our team," said Alesi, at 36 and with 191 races behind him the most experienced driver in the pitlane. "And I am particularly happy to have achieved this result at Monaco."
Alesi, a Frenchman like his team chief Prost, revelled in the celebrations after the race as his relieved team showed their feelings.
"I totally enjoyed my race," he said. "But towards the end, when I felt the car vibrating in the tunnel, I was really worried. It was a flat tyre and I had to go back to the pits to change it, which cost me the fifth place points.
"What is really important today is that I scored the first point for the team this year -- or last."
Team chief Prost, the four-times world champion who has struggled to take his team forward since purchasing it from Ligier at the end of 1996, was equally relieved.
"Jean has done a great job and the team's constant efforts have finally paid off today," he said. "This first result will allow us to work with a little less pressure, but we know that we still have a long way to go. It's great to be able to celebrate today and I would like to thank and congratulate the whole team."
Brazilian Luciano Burti had a weekend to forget at his first Monaco Grand Prix. After suffering problems with the set-up of his AP04 during the whole weekend, Burti had to retire on Sunday's race, but he was happy to see teammate Alesi scoring the first point for Prost.
"It was really a shame. I would like to get experience today for the next Monaco GP, but unfortunately that was not my lucky weekend, said Burti."As I said yesterday, I was crossing my fingers for Jean and I was really confident that he would be able to score points.
"This is very important for him and for the team and Iím very glad Prost has now one point. The new aerodynamic package proved to be really good so I hope we can stay competitive in the next races."