Alonso attracts 280,000 fans in Seville 22 May 2006
Fernando Alonso entertained more than a quarter of a million people on Sunday afternoon when the Renault Formula One team brought their roadshow to the Spanish city of Seville.
Alonso completed a 20-minute demonstration run in his world championship-winning R25 at the climax of a day that saw the crowd wowed by famous cars from Renault's motorsport heritage, including their original RS01 Formula One car from 1977, driven by former Renault works driver Rene Arnoux.
"This is just a fantastic event," enthused Alonso. "To see so many fans here in Seville, to feel the passion that people have for Formula 1 here in Spain, and to celebrate with them just one week after the Spanish Grand Prix: for me, these will be some unforgettable memories."
Alonso spent much of his day meeting sponsors and local dignitaries. The hardest job of the day, though, came not at the official press conference, but at a special event where the Spaniard was submitted to tough questioning by a 30-strong group of local schoolchildren, who grilled him on his departure from Renault in 2007, how many trophies he has won in his career (about 150 for the record) and even queried why he was sporting pink shoes for the day. He responded with good humour, smiles and plenty of ingenuity.
The heart of the show, though, came at 13:45 as chassis R25-03 - the car used by Giancarlo Fisichella to win last year's Australian Grand Prix - edged out of the garage and onto the specially-constructed 2.5 kilometre street circuit. The crowd of more than a quarter of a million people applauded warmly, chanted Alonsos name and enjoyed his display of high-speed running, standing starts and tyre-smoking doughnuts. With safety for the public a priority, the Spaniard never pushed to the limit, but nevertheless hit speeds of over 250 kph.
"This has been an amazing ten days for Spain," explained Alonso. "Sevilla and Barcelona won the European trophies in football, I had a fantastic weekend in Barcelona with my victory, and Dani Pedrosa and Rafael Nadal did amazing things in MotoGP and tennis. This is a fantastic way to celebrate that week of sporting achievement."
The event marked the beginning of a busy week for Alonso and Renault. Not only will they compete in the Monaco Grand Prix next Sunday - one of just three Grand Prix circuits where Alonso has not yet scored a podium finish - but Monday evening sees them nominated at the Laureus World Sports Awards. Alonso is in contention for World Sportsman of the Year, while the team have been nominated for World Team of the Year.