Surprise Race of Champions winner Filipe Albuquerque says he is not counting on his victory in the end-of-season event to revitalize his career, though he was pleased to show his capability by beating the likes of Formula 1 World Champion Sebastian Vettel and seven-time World Rally title-winner Sebastien Loeb.
Albuquerque won all of his RoC heats on Sunday, then knocked out Portuguese compatriot Alvaro Parente in the quarter finals and home crowd favorite Vettel in the semis. He then came up against three-time RoC winner Loeb in the final, and triumphed 2-1 in the best-of-three shootout.
Albuquerque has spent the last two seasons as a GT racer in Italy, the former Red Bull protégé's single-seater career having stalled following stints in Formula Renault 3.5, GP2 and A1GP.
His victory was the biggest RoC shock since Heikki Kovalainen – then a relative unknown who had just won the Dallara-Nissan World Series title – overcame Michael Schumacher and Loeb to triumph in 2004. That result advertised future Formula 1 driver Kovalainen's talent to a much wider audience, but Albuquerque is unsure whether RoC success can have the same impact on his career.
"I don't know – especially in motorsport, you never know everything that is happening the day after," he replied when asked if he was expecting a career boost. "I was not really expecting to win. I just came here to do my best. I don't know if it will open doors. I think I know what I want. But let's see, take it day by day.
"I came here, did my best, when it counted it was good. Even if I had not won, even being so close to Sebastien in the end was already really good for me."
The 25-year-old said the competition level had been incredibly high.
"It was just my day, everything went so well, with no mistakes," said Albuquerque. "From the beginning, it was tough competition. All of them are so good. I had Vettel in the beginning and again in the semifinals, Alvaro Parente was also very good in the quarterfinals, and then in the final – wow, Sebastien was really on it.
"I knew that it would be tough, especially as he had defeated me in the Nations' Cup. But I just thought, 'I will do my race and then we will see.' It was very, very hard, almost crashing all the time. I cannot believe it, first time that I'm here and I come and win. What more can I expect?"
He suggested that he had been fortunate that Loeb knocked out Andy Priaulx at the semi final stage, as Albuquerque rated the former World Touring Car champion as potentially the toughest opponent.
"I must say that we need to feel a bit lucky, because Andy Priaulx was unbelievably fast," said Albuquerque. "I'm thankful that I didn't catch him, because I don't know if I would have beaten him."