GRAND PRIX INTERNATIONAL, 23.09.1981
I promised in the last column that the Renaults were going to go well at Monza. I'm delighted to say that everything went perfectly for us and I was able to take my third win of the year. I'm not sure that Alan Jones was too happy, because I know that he was out for revenge. He must have driven well to do what he did, but there was nothing even he could do to touch us.
Afterwards I was told by a journalist that it was the first time a French driver had won three GPs in one season. There has never been a French world champion either, so that looks like being my next target. I don't expect to make it this year, but I'm setting my sights on '82.
If you study the table carefully, you will see that there is still a chance, at least in theory, of me winning the championship. It's only a mathematical possibility, so it would be stupid of me to expect too much at this stage. Not only would I have to pull off something sensational at the Montreal and Las Vegas circuits, both of which look unsuitable for our turbocars, but it would also take some incredibly bad luck as far as Reutemann and Piquet are concerned. The same applies to Alan Jones, who has the same number of points as me.
Whatever happens in these last two races, I think I can be satisfied with this season's results. In only my second season of F1 I was able to win three GPs. And in every race that I finished I was in the first three. There's nothing to complain about in that record.
In terms of results, my team mate René Arnoux has not had such a happy year. Nevertheless, he's had four pole positions and two other starts from the front row.
Generally speaking, he's been having a much better time in qualifying sessions than me. Unfortunately, in the last six races the best results he's been able to pick up have been a 3rd at Dijon and a 2nd at the Österreichring: as you can see, that's not much to show.
Several kind souls are now trying to find out if René has taken umbrage because I've been winning and he hasn't. I am delighted to say that it hasn't made any changes at all in the excellent relationship between us. We've been getting on together perfectly ever since the start of the year and nothing has changed in the light of subsequent events.
You have to understand that in any two-car team there tends to be one driver who does better than the other, regardless of his own contribution or even the fact that both cars are equally well prepared. It's just the way things go. It would be a mistake, though, to draw too many conclusions from just looking at the results. The important thing is that everyone in the team works together well, and that the drivers establish a good understanding. I think we proved at Monza that the Renault team works like that.
During practice, for example, I wasn't too happy with my car's suspension settings. In the end, on Sunday morning, I asked to have René's settings put on to my car. All the time and trouble which he'd put into sorting out his car during the previous two days was made available to me. It would be going too far, I think, to suggest that it was René who was responsible for my eventual win, but it goes to show that good relations between the drivers is a vital element in any team... and also that René's results this year are scarcely a reflection of his true capabilities.
I'm a firm believer in not jumping to hasty conclusions. The people who are currently "rubbishing" René are the same sort of critics who not so long ago were attacking Jean-Pierre Jabouille. Let's wait and see what happens next year, because in my opinion René has got everything it takes to do extremely well in the 1982 championship. He has an excellent chance of finishing... well, at least second. Behind me. If it turns out that the order is reversed, I would ask you kindly not to start being unkind about me, because one thing is for sure. And that is that sooner or later I am not going to be so successful.