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Alonso dampens expectations, but is Spain and its media buying it?
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Posted By: Justin Hynes  |  09 May 2014   |  10:58 am GMT  |  30 comments

After his podium finish three weeks ago at the Chinese Grand Prix, Fernando Alonso arrived in Barcelona, his home race, to encounter some optimism from his passionate fans and the Spanish media. He won this race here last year, remember, his second win in Barcelona and third on home soil.

But that was his last win and, despite claiming his best result of the year so far in China, the Ferrari driver deliberately burst any hopes of potential victory the media might have been floating in the build up to this event.

In a special feature, brought to us by Spanish colleague Tabatha Valls Halling, we’ll take a close look at the Spanish media coverage of this weekend’s race and assess whether they are buying Alonso’s managed expectations.

“Fernando, is a podium a real goal for you here in Spain?” “How big a step have you brought with you here this weekend in terms of updates?” “How long can you work without a win?” Alonso was sensibly cautious, downplaying any predictions of him fighting for a podium this Sunday. He doesn’t want to disappoint his home crowd, but at the same time he wants to be realistic: “We cannot start the weekend thinking of a podium. Or thinking to win the race, that would be creating false targets to everyone that is here.”

That’s not, however, what the Spanish media want to hear. They want, and more importantly, need him to do well. Alonso might be realistic about his chances here in Barcelona, but the dash of hope and optimism, the “this is sport, anything can happen” philosophy with which Alonso concluded his weekend preview is what the Spanish media are hanging on to.

National sport newspapers such as Marca or Sport have focused on the new parts Ferrari is bringing to the race, hoping for a faster car for the Spaniard. Marca goes further and starts its Friday story by saying that Alonso is convinced that he will have a faster car on Sunday. Right now though, Fernando can only hope for more speed.

Sport buries Alonso’s concerns about it being a difficult weekend right at the end of the page, focusing instead on how important he thinks it is for someone – literally any team – to close the gap to Mercedes. Spanish website Car & Driver uses one of the positive factors in their headline, highlighting Fernando’s belief that characteristics of the Circuit de Catalunya will provide the biggest boost to Ferrari’s hopes this weekend.

And then there’s Diario AS’ story, which we could say is the real reflection of not just how the Spanish media think but also ‘Alonsomaniacs’. The story starts by downplaying any chance of seeing Fernando on the podium on Sunday, with the double champion explaining, “we’re not in a position we’re happy with. We started with some deficit to the top teams, specially Mercedes, so we need to try and get closer and closer to them”. Those are the facts, as stated by Alonso yesterday. But it’s followed by that dash of optimism and hope, as the paper compares this weekend’s situation to that of Valencia 2012.

Back then Alonso downplayed his chances of success and ended up winning the race from 11th on the grid. “A legendary race” is how the Spanish media described it, and they are hoping for a repeat. It’s hardly surprising. It’s not just the media that need Alonso to do well, fans all over Spain cling to the hope that the Ferrari driver will, as he done so many times, deliver the kind of heroics that bring about another Valencia, another China. They always will, no matter what Fernando says.

Tabatha Valls Halling
at the Circuit de Catalunya 

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30 Comments
  1. Ace says:

    If anyone can grasp oppurtunities from seemingly bleak and improbable situations, it’s Alonso. Hope for this to be a good race

  2. Gaz Boy says:

    Hope springs eternal. However, so does delusion………so I can understand why Fernando is cautious.
    Having said that, I would expect the Ferrari/Fernando to be reasonably decent around Barcelona, with its emphasis on front tyre wear, Fernando and the Prancing Horse are decent on tracks that are front limited.
    A pole and win on merit? That would be tough. However, a Top 5 on merit? Should be achievable, and if it isn’t, some more head scratching awaits.
    By the way, thanks to the people who responded to my post about TV coverage in Europe and the Anglosphere. If you have free to air F1 coverage make the most of it – I suspect it is becoming part of a dying breed sadly, although could the lack of TV coverage be the reason why no Concorde has been signed yet???

  3. German Samurai says:

    Ferrari will be best of the rest here. Barcelona is front limited like Shanghai.

    Alonso has built a career on under-performing and over-delivering.

    Valencia wasn’t special imo. Alonso performed poorly in qualifying and therefore started behind slower cars that he was able to blow by on the opening laps. I mean, he qualified in 12th behind two Force India’s and a Sauber. He was barely ahead of Massa who was woeful back in 2012.

    He blew past the slower cars then get extraordinarily lucky with the timing of the safety car which bumped him up to 4th. From there he blew past the slower Lotus, McLaren butchered Hamilton’s pit stop putting him behind Alonso, then Vettel had a mechanical problem that forced him out of the race. So all of a sudden he’s in the lead.

    Enough with people mythologising races like Valencia 2012. Alonso had a quick car from Barcelona onwards.

    1. German Samurai says:

      edit
      *under promising and over delivering

      1. Random 79 says:

        Great edit :)

    2. shaboopi says:

      I wonder what sort of person gets his rocks off trying to convince others any chance he can get that Alonso is ordinary on here. Do you tire of your own repetitive posts here? Because others I’m sure do. And when people respond with proper debate you scamper on to the next article and start over. At least people are realizing you aren’t worth engaging in debate.

      1. German Samurai says:

        I don’t think he’s ordinary. I think two championships reflects his ability. Vettel and Hamilton are better drivers than Alonso.

        Valencia 2012 wasn’t a great drive. What Perez did in a Sauber at Malaysia 2012 was a great drive, Vettel coming from last to sixth with the championship on the line and nursing a damaged car in Brazil 2012 was a great drive. At Valencia 2012 Alonso was flattered by underperforming in qualifying, he got lucky with the safety car, and that the cars in front of him dropped out.

      2. shaboopi says:

        Good for you. Guess what? Alonso has been voted multiple years, by team bosses and also by paddock as the driver of the year. He’s also being paid a premium price for his talent, the true sign of worth. With that said, you should be aware that people significantly better placed and more intelligent than you disagree, both fundamentally and financially. So I guess the only question is, in article after article, why are you still barking the same tired tune? The only person you can influence is yourself apparently, and I recommend you don’t listen to yourself.

      3. Ferdinand says:

        I dont’t think that Vettel and Hamilton are better than Fernando. Last 4 years, Vettel had an incredible car, like Hamilton this year. It is a fact that when Hamilton and Vettel have an incredible car, they win races and championships. It is a fact that when Hamilton and Vettel have an ordinary car, as Fernando all these years, they are beaten by Fernando, like this year (Vettel) and Hamilton (last 4 years).

      4. clyde says:

        +1

      5. clyde says:

        edit
        @shaboopi
        +1

    3. Andrew M says:

      Remind me, what’s the lowest grid position Vettel has won from?

      1. justafan says:

        Vettel is a better qualifier and usually starts further up the grid than Alonso. He has many wins from pole.

      2. puffing says:

        Oh gosh! What a nonsense. Give Alonso the RBs of last years before saying Alonso is a bad qualifier.

      3. puffing says:

        Are you Rockie under another nick, btw?

      4. Andrew M says:

        That’s not really answering my question now is it :)

    4. ledio says:

      Lol, maybe he need to blow everybody again. If that what it takes to win.

  4. Jock Ulah says:

    I will follow the example of those more expert than I and predict his finishing position on the final lap of the race.

  5. Langer says:

    Technically 3rd win on home soil. Or are you not counting Valencia?

  6. D Vega says:

    Malaysia 2012.

  7. Jay Smithers says:

    3 wins on home soil. Barcelona 2006 as well.

  8. MJSib says:

    *nerd alert* Alonso has won 3 times in Spain. The spanish gp in 2006 and 2013 and Valencia in 2011 ☺

    1. Tabatha Valls says:

      thanks, nerd alerts are good :)

      1. Ace says:

        valencia 2012….not 2011 :P

  9. Quade says:

    The Spanish media is doing the right thing for their man, lets do the same for British drivers, starting with Lewis.

    1. clyde says:

      when did you’ll stop ? …. heh heh :-)

  10. Ivan says:

    “Under-promise and over-deliver”, hm… I wonder if this is a media strategy for building a ‘heroic’ image. It seems Alonso deliberately under-promises before some ‘dramatic’ races although he knows he can deliver better than that just to illuminate the “Alonso factor” (pretty much like the ‘Schumacher factor’ 15 years ago) on a inferior car.
    I am sure (and I wish) he will get to the podium somehow..

  11. justafan says:

    Alonso will not win a race this season. Neither will RBR. Only 2 drivers will win races this year.

  12. Sandy says:

    Samurai philosophy… Never tell someone you bought a car, until it is actually delivered, never announce a business deal until money is in the bank (a la LOTUS), never tell your friends you’re going to sleep with a hottie until you actually do.

    Never say you’re gonna do well until you do, a la Vettel in the last nine(?) races of last year

  13. Reda says:

    I Think Alonso is a superior Driver, it is just the car
    That requires to be perfected.
    Today the Mercedes has superior quality ( thanks to the McLaren boosting kers components)
    But we may not compare Lewis or Even Rosberg to Alonso.

    Even if there is a Lewis wins, does not change this fact
    Ferrari, sooner or later will catch up.
    I am talking here pure driving skills and race strategy.

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