Q&A with Renault's Fernando Alonso 07 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.