A race weekend with Fernando Alonso 27 May 2008
Fernando Alonso has won the Monaco Grand Prix from pole position on two occasions. On Sunday, however, Alonso was less successful, eventually finishing the 2008 race in 10th for Renault, after hitting the wall at Massenet and subsequently colliding with the BMW Sauber of Nick Heidfeld.
Despite this disappointing result, Monte Carlo remains a special place for the Spaniard and we caught up with him after his eventful race to get some more background information on his time in the Principality
Q: We were in Monaco this weekend, what do you associate with this circuit?
Fernando Alonso: Racing on the streets is exciting, and there is no greater challenge for a driver than Monaco. I have happy memories here - unfortunately not this weekend - including two very special wins. But there were some missed chances, such as in 2004 when Jarno (Trulli) won - we should have had a Renault one-two that day, but I hit the wall.
Q: You don't take to the track until Thursday morning, but when do you like to fly in?
FA: I arrived in Monaco on Tuesday evening.
Q: Do you make an effort to discover your surroundings at a race, or do you stick to the airport-hotel-track-airport itinerary?
FA: It depends on how much time I have and when I arrive. For European races it is difficult as I usually arrive at the last minute. At flyaway races we can sometimes see a bit more of the places we visit, as we usually arrive a little earlier.
Q: What's your exercise regime over a race weekend? Does it vary according to the race location, demands of the circuit etc?
FA: Over a race weekend I do not do any exercise - apart from driving the car! Most of my preparation is done in the winter - that is when I develop my basic fitness. Then, in between races I continue with lighter training and the sports that I enjoy: running, tennis, swimming and cycling. In the days before the race, I will do some light stretching, but nothing more.
Q: Whats your preferred accommodation at races - city hotel, hotel near the circuit or your own motorhome near the paddock?
FA: A hotel close to the circuit is ideal. There may be nicer hotels in the city centres, but local hotels are the most convenient and I dont usually have to wake up too early!
Q: Anything you have to have provided in your hotel room, or are there any luxuries you always bring with you from home?
FA: I always take my laptop and my IPod.
Q: Do you enjoy entertaining friends and family during a race weekend?
FA: Sometimes it is nice to bring friends to the races, such as here in Monaco. My family will visit some races in the season and it is nice to have them close to me, but they have to fit in with my routine and I do not really have time to entertain them.
Q: Do you get the chance to go out and socialise on Friday and Saturday night?
FA: I will usually eat in the hotel or somewhere local. Its important not to be out late as you have to be in the car the next day.
Q: Any drivers you particularly like hanging out with?
FA: I get on well with a lot of the drivers, but we are all so busy that we dont really spend time hanging out together. Sometimes I will play cards with Robert Kubica or Giancarlo Fisichella - thats always fun.
Q: Your favourite race for nightlife?
FA: Montreal is always a super race and its nice to go and visit the restaurants downtown. Its a friendly city and the people there love having the Grand Prix in town.
Q: What's the best night out you've had at a Grand Prix? And have you ever overslept the next morning?
FA: I dont think Ive ever overslept and been late to the track. And we race late in the afternoon these days, so it would be difficult to oversleep that much! I cant remember a specific race where I have had a big night out.
Q: What do you have for breakfast on a race Sunday?
FA: I have a coffee, cereal and orange juice.
Q: How much do you drink over a race weekend? And what?
FA: Lots of water - around 3 or 4 litres. I also take mineral salts to replace the nutrients that I lose when driving the car.
Q: How do you spend the morning on race Sunday?
FA: I try to have a calm morning at the track so that I am well prepared and ready for the race. I usually have some commitments for the team with appearances and meeting guests of the team. After that I have a massage to help me get warmed-up, and then hang out in my room in the teams motorhome to keep my concentration.
Q: How do you like to get to the circuit on Sunday morning? Do you drive yourself?
FA: Yes, I always like to have my own car. Sometimes its not possible and so I have to make other plans. In Monaco, I took a boat from the hotel as it is opposite the track.
Q: How do you like to spend the hour or so before the race? Any superstitions or pre-race rituals you always go through to bring you luck?
FA: I will have a massage to make sure I am relaxed, comfortable and ready for the race. Like most drivers I have some superstitions - repeating routines when I have a good race, things like that.
Q: Do you have a lucky charm?
FA: Not really.
Q: What do you do to stay calm as you're sat on the grid awaiting the formation lap?
FA: I have never had a problem remaining calm before the race: Im generally quite a relaxed person and all I do is stay focused.
Q: How do you wind down after the race?
FA: I spend time with my family and friends.
Q: If things don't go your way and you retire early, do you prefer to get away as soon as possible, or hang out and watch the rest of the race?
FA: I dont leave early as I like to stay and support the team. And I need to know what happens, so I will watch the rest of the race.