Many empty seats at Jerez with local hero Alonso absent 7 February, 2013 Fernando Alonso at Jerez last year Jerez is struggling to fill seats during the four days of Formula 1 preseason testing without Spanish hero Fernando Alonso. The 2012 runner-up and Ferrari driver elected to sit out the opening test of the pre-season in favour of cycling training in a hot country — possibly the Canary Islands. His absence has led to mostly “empty grandstands” as the rest of the formula one world tests at Jerez in southern Spain, Brazil’s Globo reports. “We have 25 to 30 per cent more journalists this year,” Jerez’s media boss Raul Zarzuela said. “Everyone wants to see the new cars — it’s almost like a grand prix,” he added. But “The absence of Alonso has hurt the interest here (in Spain),” Zarzuela admitted. “We (Spain) are in (economic) crisis, of course, but it only costs 10 euros for the whole day.” (GMM) Content on GrandPrix247.com by: staff & contributors, Reuters syndication, GMM service, Getty Images, Formula 1 teams, sponsors & organisations.