PROST scriptum

There's nothing quite so important for a driver than motivation. One of the reasons that I left McLaren was that they just didn't seem determined enough to win the World Championship. When I went quite well during practice or a race, Teddy Mayer was happy. They were pleased when I finished fifth in a race. It never occurred to anyone to wonder why I hadn't won the race.

It may seem rather presumptuous for a driver in only his second season in Formula One to shoot his mouth off like this, but it's the only way that a team's going to win the World Championship.

I'm not racing in Formula One because I'm happy to set a reasonable time in practice and maybe climb into the third step of the rostrum when things are going right. My aim is to be World Champion. But after racing with McLaren in their basically uncompetitive cars, distracted by inter-team bickering, my only aim was to finish ahead of John Watson. It simply wasn't good enough. Little by little I lost my determination. It was inevitable.

What was the point of driving at eleven tenths, working like mad to get the car properly balanced to only set 14th fastest time? I was sorely tempted to say to hell with it. The general lack of enthusiasm in the McLaren team slowly wore me down and affected my behavior. It's something that eats away at you. You have no desire to get into the car, less to go out and test, and even less to try and get your engineers to set up the car properly, because you know that it isn't going to change anything at the very heart of the problem. You may lose two or three places on the grid, but when you're floundering around the in the middle of the grid anyway, who's going to notice?

But a driver who's struggling to win won't give up for a moment, he can't afford to. He has to be very demanding, not only of himself but of those around him. But I was also rather apprehensive at McLaren when I got into the car towards the end of the season because of the number of accidents I'd had caused by mechanical breakages. Then I knew that I had to leave the team. I think that if a driver stays with a second rate team it affects his determination to become World Champion, whatever his own talent. It's hard to climb back up.

But that's why l m particularly happy in the Renault team. They want to be World Champions. In fact better than that, in some ways they have to be World Champions. A top three placing isn't good enough for them. It's ideal as far as I'm concerned, although it also means that I have more responsibility than I had at McLaren. But it doesn't upset me, it's simply the price one must pay for becoming World Champion.

In joining the Renault team, I've almost joined a family, because I know a lot of the team members already. I have total confidence in them and I think they have confidence in me. As for setting up the car, the situation is quite clear. I do exactly as I wish. The fact that I'm number two driver doesn't really affect me because I don't suffer from it in the slightest. René and I are treated entirely equally.

But I do think it's important for there to be a good atmosphere within the team if we're to win the World Championship. That's especially true of the two drivers. There are so many things to learn that we have to work together and to combine our results. A World Championship title rewards the work of a whole team as much as the talent of one man. Fortunately, I get on really well with René.

There are three main elements which contribute towards the making of a World Champion: the quality of material, the determination of the members of the team (and also the way they work together) and finally luck. When a driver is considering joining a team, he examines the first two elements. He can make a mistake, but as far as I can tell at this stage of the season, I haven't made a wrong decision.

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