Montmelo, 9 May – No prizes for guessing that Fernando Alonso was called to this afternoon’s FIA Press Conference at the Catalunya Circuit, in the build up to his home race. The Ferrari man went from laconic to loquacious as he faced the media and the overall vibe he gave out was a positive one.
“I think it motivates you to race at home and you find an extra 10% in everything you do, in every detail of the weekend, starting with tomorrow’s practice,” began Fernando. “You try and do everything well, because you know a nice podium finish makes you happy, the team happy and many people in the grandstand happy. It’s a special weekend and after all these years here, it is more motivation than pressure. I want to make everyone enjoy Sunday afternoon.”
Alonso was asked for a comment on the fact that only two winners in twenty two Spanish Grands Prix have not started from the front row. “This year, we have seen that race pace and tyres are the key factors, more so than previously,” he explained. “Obviously it’s good to start from the front, because you know your chances are high and you can almost touch the podium if you qualify on the front row. We need to have a normal weekend, finding the right balance between qualifying and the race. But, the first really important qualifying will come in two weeks time in Monaco, when we know it is extremely important.”
As to his hopes for the weekend, Fernando is optimistic and he outlined the reasons why: “last year we were 1.5 seconds behind the others and thanks to the weather and luck we won in Malaysia. But this year, we finished second in Australia and we won in China, because we have a very different package. This gives us optimism and confidence that we can have a good championship, if we deliver consistent results. We are some points behind at the moment, but it’s a long championship and we have seen many examples of people fighting back: last year, Sebastian was 43 points behind us after the summer break and arrived in Austin leading the classification, so in five or six races you can recover 45 to 50 points if you get some consistent results. This year is the first time I have arrived here with a competitive car but we still need to do everything right and put together a good weekend if we want to fight for the top places. We will also need to see how the car responds to some new parts we have here. But we can say we are approaching this weekend with a positive mentality, not a defensive one like we did in my first years with Ferrari.”
Pirelli has altered the characteristics of the Hard tyre which will be the Prime this weekend and Fernando seemed relaxed about dealing with a further unknown. “We will try it for the first time tomorrow and learn something and we will know more after the race, but I don’t think the new tyre will benefit one team more than another,” he said.
Finally, it was time to switch from F1 to Football and the recent European semi-finals, which saw both Spanish teams go out of the competition. “It was sad for the two Spanish teams, especially for Real which is my team, even if they played better in Madrid than in Germany, but there was too much to make up after the first game,” said Fernando. “I think the final will be a close game.” As both these defeats came at the hand of German teams, and Vettel was sitting on the Ferrari man’s right in the press conference, the man from Oviedo was asked to assess Spanish-German sporting relations! “We don’t have too many games together, apart from this week’s semi-finals. In other sports, we don’t play much together, because the sports at which we are good, like tennis and basketball, the Germans are not so good and the sports they are good at, skiing for example, there are no Spanish competitors,” was Fernando’s assessment, before adding with a hint of irony, “in Formula 1 we are always a minority because there are four or five German drivers but I’m happy if the Germans keep winning at football!