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Q&A with Renault's Fernando Alonso 07 May 2005

Fernando Alonso (ESP) Renault meets a fan.
Formula One World Championship, Rd5, Spanish Grand Prix, Preparations, Barcelona, Spain, 5 May 2005 Fernando Alonso (ESP) Renault R25.
Formula One World Championship, Rd5, Spanish Grand Prix, Practice Day, Barcelona, Spain, 6 May 2005 Fans of Fernando Alonso (ESP) Renault.
Formula One World Championship, Rd5, Spanish Grand Prix, Practice Day, Barcelona, Spain, 6 May 2005 Fernando Alonso (ESP) Renault R25.
Formula One World Championship, Rd5, Spanish Grand Prix, Practice Day, Barcelona, Spain, 6 May 2005 Fernando Alonso (ESP) Renault R25.
Formula One World Championship, Rd5, Spanish Grand Prix, Practice Day, Barcelona, Spain, 6 May 2005

The Spaniard sat down ahead of his home race to talk about the challenge of racing in Barcelona, plus his hopes for the weekend.

Q: Fernando, you have really ignited the Spanish interest in Formula One racing - how does that feel?
Fernando Alonso:
I am very proud of what we have built in Spain, because it is not a traditional Formula 1 country. I think we have found passionate fans, and built up a strong culture for the sport - and things are improving every day, with more and more people getting interested. The atmosphere is fantastic, like a big party, and I think the fans will be asking for another victory. But they understand that sometimes this is possible, and sometimes not. I will be doing my best, and the car feels good at the moment, so I think we can be in the podium. After that, perhaps we can fight for the win, but we do not know yet. All I can do is push to my maximum.

Q: When you take a step back and look at the Alonso-mania in Spain, could you ever have imagined something like this could happen?
FA:
No, never. I look at myself as someone who has been very lucky - my job is also what I enjoy most in the world, and I can make my life doing it. Away from the track, I think I am a normal person - I enjoy following Real Madrid, or meeting up with my friends. When I was younger, I was never certain that I would make it to Formula One. I have been racing since I was very young, and always aimed to be the number one, but F1 seemed a very long way away. For me, it was not destiny to make it to where I am now - I thought for a long-time I would become a go-kart mechanic, or a job like this, not an F1 driver.

Q: So when you are at the wheel, what do you really enjoy? The technical aspects? The speed?
FA:
It is the racing - when you have a car in front of you and are trying to overtake, or a car behind. For me, it is about racing - not doing laps alone, that is not fun. I am just the same if I walk out to the car park, I want to get there first. I am like that on a bike too, I am like that with everything. I just want to be racing someone.

Q: People are beginning to talk about the championship - how do you react?
FA:
At the beginning of the season, it was not a real target but looking at how things are now, maybe it is a dream that is getting a little bit closer. I am not nervous about it, though, because it was not out target for this year: if you are in a team which is talking about winning the championship, that is one thing; but here at Renault, we are making big steps with the car each year and surprising everybody when we do it. Of course, I would like to fight for the title, and we seem to be in a good position to do it now - but only if we can work even harder, look after every small detail and avoid being caught by McLaren or Ferrari.

Q: Friday practice saw you out on track for the first time this weekend: did you feel any more pressure?
FA:
Pressure is not really what I feel in this situation - it is an extra motivation for me to be in my country with this support, but in F1, there is always pressure. I was under pressure in Malaysia, the same in Bahrain, in Imola - and will be at the next race in Monaco. Pressure is normal in this sport - I have to deal with it, and just enjoy this special weekend.

Q: So, how are things looking after Friday?
FA:
It is always very difficult to have a clear picture after Friday, but I think there are maybe some signs. Ferrari were not so strong today, but it was only Friday and for sure tomorrow, they will be faster: today, they probably ran with a lot of fuel. McLaren are always fast on the first today, but qualifying and the race are what matter so we wait and see - but they will be strong for sure. Toyota were not so good in Imo,a but they seem to be fast too - I think this will be a good circuit for them. There will be competition for us from every direction.

Q: Finally, what would it mean if you were to finish on the podium?
FA:
It would probably be the best moment of the year for me. Only being world champion could beat standing on the podium or winning the race in Barcelona.