It’s easy to imagine that this weekend Fernando Alonso is like the boy who innocently exclaims to a blinkered crowd that the king is not exactly fully clothed.
The double champion has spent all weekend gently pointing out to the ladies and gentleman of his homeland’s media the fact that his Ferrari F14T isn’t exactly the quickest car around the Circuit de Catalunya this weekend.
Yesterday, backed by Ferrari President Luca Di Montezemolo’s admissions that the car is uncompetitive, the message seemed to be getting through. This morning, then, Alonso might have been forgiving for imagining that his seventh place on the grid – behind team-mate Kimi Raikkonen – might have been the final piece of a convincing puzzle for the Spanish media.
Unfortunately none of those things have been enough to convince the papers that come the end of this afternoon’s race, Fernando will be doing anything other than once again marching towards the podium having staged another legendary fight back.
Sports newspapers As and El Mundo Deportivo are chief among this morning’s cheerleaders: “Time to dream for a possible podium,” says the former, while the latter is “Searching for another heroic act”.
They have seen it happen before, so they are not ruling it out today. “This is Alonso, you know, the same one that started 11th in Valencia and won.” It’s what they want to see and more importantly, what the fans want to hear. There’s plenty of precedent for such a recovery, so why not again today, they ask.
As says he must deliver another epic comeback and relegates Alonso’s realism quotes to the very end of its piece. “I’ve been realistic from day one,” it quotes the Ferrari driver. “The podium would be a dream, but nothing is impossible. We will need a good strategy but I don’t want to give false targets to anyone.”
Marca by contrast adopted a more sober tone this morning. They quote Fernando’s cautious “a podium is not possible” sentence, as well as adding that Ferrari is slower here than in China. Spain’s Car & Driver website also goes for facts instead of a plaintive desire for him to do well: “The worst isn’t that I start seventh, it’s being 1.7 seconds behind” is the headline.
Two very different interpretations to one same story, different levels of Spanish hope. We will see who got the measurements right in only a few hours, when Alonso starts his 222 Formula 1 Grand Prix.
Tabatha Valls Halling
at the Circuit de Catalunya