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Fernando Alonso Q&A: Spain a chance for McLaren to shine

12 May 2016

After scoring his first points of the year last time out in Russia - and with several updates coming to his McLaren this weekend - local hero Fernando Alonso is in understandably upbeat mood ahead of his home race in Barcelona. Here he talks about his prospects, his team’s imminent 50th anniversary, the goings-on at Red Bull, and helping develop the next generation of F1 driver…

Q: Fernando, you look very happy. Is it the first points in Sochi, or simply that this is your home Grand Prix?

Fernando Alonso: Ha, both. It is my home race, my family and friends are here, and yes I want to have a good result - and Sochi gives hope. A home race is always something special, so you want to deliver, of course.

Q: It seems that Honda are now closer to the top teams - but how close can you get? And how soon?

FA: Soon! We are getting better and stronger, but are still missing a bit of power. My guess - and hope - is that at tracks like Barcelona and Monaco where power is not so essential, we have a chance to deliver an extra good performance. So the next two races are really important for us - and that finally Q3 is coming our way, for the first time with this project. Yes, we’ve been pretty close at times, so I hope that here and in Monaco it will happen. And from now on points should be our normal target - not the surprise. Out of the points should now be the surprise. (laughs)

Q: There are some updates on the car here - can you say what they are?

FA: All aerodynamics - on the front and rear wing and on the floor. We need to test all of them to see what will be implemented. Hopefully we will see a good surprise tomorrow and on Saturday morning.

Q: McLaren’s 50th anniversary is coming up soon, with big celebrations planned. Can you say what is so special about the team, and why you have been drawn to them - twice?

FA: Let’s have a look at the last time. I joined that McLaren-Honda project because there was a romantic side attached to it: when I started my go-kart career it was with a replica of Senna’s McLaren-Honda car. Back then I had the dream of becoming a Formula One driver one day, so when it was announced that this iconic partnership would come together again it was the perfect opportunity for me to join. McLaren is a leader in technology and one of the best teams in the world - and we drivers want to drive for the best!

Q: When you left McLaren in 2009, did you ever imagine coming back?

FA: Back then probably not. But McLaren-Honda - that’s a different thing.

Q: Going back to your beginnings in karts: is that the reason you’ve founded a karting academy?

FA: Yes. We had 25 kids last year when we started and now we have 130. That is amazing. And the most surprising thing: we have only three Spanish kids and 127 from all over the world. That shows that the passion for Formula One is still strong in many youngsters around the world. There is a saying in Spain - give what you would have wanted at the start of your career to others if you can. I would have wanted such an academy - to learn from someone and have the right facilities. Now I am giving that opportunity to some kids - and I really enjoy it.

Q: You have been around F1 racing a long time and seen all kinds of things. What do you make of the Verstappen/Kvyat situation?

FA: It is impossible from the outside to make any judgement. These things happen. Red Bull - you might like it or not - have done many good things for the sport and have discovered many young talents and given them a chance. What happened now is a decision among their teams and I can only hope that they give both Daniil (Kvyat) and Max (Verstappen) enough time to grow, as both belong in F1. They are both super talented drivers.

Q: You were part of the FIA press conference today where three Red Bull drivers were sitting in front of you, so you had a special view of how harsh F1 racing can be…

FA: Well, it indeed is not a situation that you enjoy, but that’s the way it is. Tomorrow we are all back in the car again and should enjoy driving and not talking over spilled milk.