MONTMELO – Fernando Alonso has no concerns about racing at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya this weekend despite suffering an accident at the circuit during pre-season testing that forced him to miss the first race of the 2015 Formula 1 season.
Whilst testing for McLaren in Barcelona in February, Alonso suffered a bizarre accident at turn three on the circuit, with a number of different reasons being given for the crash.
The end result was that Alonso had to spend three days in hospital, and was advised by his doctors to miss the opening race of the year in Australia in the middle of March.
Speaking ahead of his home event in Spain on Sunday, Alonso said that he had no concerns about returning to the track and is relishing the chance to race in front of his fans.
“No concerns,” Alonso said. “That was an accident that happened three months ago and unfortunately it was a little bit longer to recover.
“The impact was a little bit unlucky and it put me one month out of the car. But yeah, coming back here with full confidence and full motivation to do well, to perform and to deliver a good result in front of the home crowd.”
Alonso revealed that he is taking the hospital staff that cared for him out for dinner at the end of the race weekend to say thank you for their work and support earlier this yeah.
“The week that I was in the hospital, I had some of the best staff I could imagine,” he said. “They were so kind to me and I plan to have dinner with them, probably on Sunday.
“I’m staying here on Monday for one event with a sponsor, so Sunday night after all the stress and the race has passed, I will have dinner with all of them.”
McLaren is due to bring a number of updates to the race in Spain for the MP4-30 that could give Alonso and teammate Jenson Button a chance to score their first points of the season after a difficult start to 2015.
Last week, Red Bull Racing revealed their new car, the RB19, and a new relationship with US-based Ford Motors in a press event in New York City complete with drivers Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez and Team Principle Christian Horner. They are the only Formula 1 team to launch in the United States, but even that small move of the needle reflects a major shift in the attitude of both F1’s management and their teams – and the extent to which the American audience has fully embraced the sport.
“It’s something fantastic and unique, for the sport to be able to break it into the U.S,” Perez told NBC Sports. “The market is huge and it’s a huge opportunity for everyone involved, for the drivers, for the team. It’s always a huge market.”
In 2023, Formula 1 will race three times in the United States and five times in North America. The Circuit of the Americas will host their 11th consecutive race in October before heading south to Mexico City. Miami returns for a second time in May on a temporary street course around the Hard Rock cafe and the third addition is in downtown Las Vegas in November.
With the Canadian Grand Prix on the schedule for June and the Brazilian Grand Prix in November, American fans are now in the ballpark of Europeans, who have eight events on the continent and one in England.
In 2022, Verstappen won every race in North America. He was kept from sweeping the hemisphere only by George Russell, who won in Brazil. That fact is less remarkable when one considers that Verstappen won 15 times in the season – nearly two-thirds of the races on the schedule.
“Sometimes it can be hard to replicate the season, but I think it’s the same as with the car, right? You always try to improve it,” Verstappen told NBC Sports. “And I always look at the little details that even when you have had a good race, you could have done better. And then of course you also learn from the bad races. So we always try to look for these little improvements and general experience you gain year after year.
“You try to do better, but of course it also depends a lot on the package you have.”
Now Verstappen’s thoughts will inevitably turn to establishing a dynasty – and America will again play a pivotal role.
“I just enjoy what I’m doing,” Verstappen said. “After the years in Formula One, when you have to be on top of your game and you gain a lot on your experience – in that sense nothing really can get to you anymore. Every year you just try to do the best you can. But a lot depends on the material around you. It’s always a bit of a guess. Start the season as fit as you can be and be well prepared. But if you don’t have the car, you’re not going to win the championship.”
Perez added two wins to Red Bull’s total, at Monaco and the Marina Bay Street course. With two of the US 2023 races on street courses, Perez hopes to close the gap on Verstappen and potentially be his principle rival for the championship.
“The strategy is clear; it is to maximize the potential of the car – and we believe we have a good car, but how good?,” Perez said “We don’t know what the competition is doing. We just give our best in building this car and we hope that it’s good enough to get us to win races.
“I think we have to work together as a team. At the same time. We both want to win the championship. It’s just having good compromise. The competition will be really strong out there, so we really need everything we possibly can get from each other.”
Formula One returns to the United States for Round 6 and the Miami Grand Prix on May 7.