Revitalized Alonso gives Spaniards hope of ending winning drought at home in F1

Aston Martin driver Fernando Alonso of Spain celebrates with his trophy Sunday on the podium after placing second during the Monaco Formula One Grand Prix, at the Monaco racetrack, in Monaco. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)

It’s been nearly a decade since there was this much hype surrounding the Spanish Grand Prix.

The last time the Formula One crowd in Spain had such high hopes of celebrating a victory by Fernando Alonso — the country’s biggest racing idol — was back in 2013, when the two-time champion was driving for Ferrari.


Alonso went on to win that race in Barcelona, but since then has never been in a realistic position to make it to the top step of the podium again at home. That was his last win in F1 anywhere, and the last by any Spaniard in the local race.

The 41-year-old Alonso arrives revitalized with an Aston Martin team that is one of the surprises of the season and has been running near the top from the start.

Alonso has five podium finishes in six races so far, and is coming off a season-best second-place finish in Monaco last weekend.

“I’m looking forward to seeing all of the Spanish and Aston Martin fans out in full force supporting our team,” Alonso said Wednesday. “I hope to see lots of green in the grandstands over the weekend. So far, we have scored lots of third places, a second place in Monaco and the next one we need is the top step. To do this we have to maximize every part of our weekend and capitalize on any opportunities that may come our way.”

But Alonso said he won’t be obsessed with winning at home, and will try to “enjoy every moment” of what he called a “celebration” in Barcelona.

A record crowd is expected this weekend to support Alonso and fellow Spaniard Carlos Sainz Jr. at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.

More than 40,000 tickets were sold in the first few hours after being put on sale last year, and more tickets were made available again earlier this year. More than 100,000 people are expected for Sunday’s race.

Alonso, who won his F1 titles with Renault in 2005-06, is seeking his 33rd victory in the series.

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