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fernando alonso

Barcelona Diary: Alonso radiating anger with each step

fernando alonso

As the first race of the European season, the Spanish GP is always a big one. More than any other race, managing momentum is key – whether building it, arresting it, or in Honda’s case, reversing it entirely, it’s the first major chance teams get to roll out the big things their factories have been brewing.

All that, plus the natural charms of Barcelona (food, architecture, women – seriously, even my bus driver was hot) made it a logical choice for my return to the paddock. If Friday was any indication, there’s going to be a lot to digest.

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First of all, Alonso. As if we could start anywhere else. His chances at a happy homecoming plummeting faster than Spain’s credit rating, he got a single lap out of his car before it quite literally pissed away his morning fortunes with an oil leak.

Watching him storm through the paddock was quite a sight, radiating anger with each step, so it’s not surprising he spent the rest of his morning playing tennis, if only to remind himself that it’s not always that difficult to clear the net.

Also if you want to know what the mood is at Honda, it can be summed up pretty simply by what’s being talked about in their motorhome – absolutely anything else.

Moving to the other end of the timesheets, the story seems to be that despite their respective upgrades (and assuming the times in Sochi had more to do with the track than the cars) the battle between Mercedes and Ferrari is still at status quo on pure pace.

While FP1 suggested Mercedes had found a truckload of time, Ferrari brought them back into range in the second session, and the eventual four-tenths difference seems about right. Watching from the grandstands overlooking sector three, Mercedes looked perhaps the tiniest-bit happier getting its rear around the corners, and both drivers clearly had a ton of confidence throwing their car into the final chicane and turn 16. That said, if qualy is to be more of the same, perhaps Ferrari’s superior race pace will continue as well.

A few quick hits:

  • Renault looked very promising with Nico Hulkenberg and Jo Palmer in P7 and 8 (!) respectively – don’t get too excited though, as sitting across from him in the post-session interview, Hulkenberg remains clearly unconvinced.
  • Love or hate Max Verstappen, his fans are always great.
  • Some very cool artwork was on display at the paddock entrance, including a portrait of Alonso using Rubik’s cubes – if only solving Honda’s engine woes were that easy.
  • It may not have been the most revolutionary start to the European season, but all signs point to plenty of excitement tomorrow. Here’s hoping for a day worthy of the beautiful Catalan sunshine.

Report for GrandPrix247 by Ben Stevens in Barcelona