Arriba Sevilla! Fernando Alonso entertained more than a quarter of a million people this afternoon in Seville -- a record for the Renault F1 Roadshow! They had promised a big show to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Renault's Seville factory...
Fernando Alonso entertained more than a quarter of a million people this afternoon in Seville -- a record for the Renault F1 Roadshow!
They had promised a big show to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Renault's Seville factory in southern Spain and this afternoon, in front of a record crowd of 280,000 people, Fernando Alonso and his world championship-winning R25 delivered in style!
"This is just a fantastic event," enthused the Spaniard. "To see so many fans here in Seville, to feel the passion that people have for Formula 1 here in Spain, and to celebrate with them just one week after the Grand Prix: for me, these will be some unforgettable memories."
The Spaniard completed a twenty minute demonstration run in his R25 at the climax of a day that saw the crowd entertained by famous cars from Renault's rich motorsport heritage, and extensive present-day racing range. These included the original RS01 Formula 1 car from 1977, driven by former Renault works driver Rene Arnoux, the Le Mans winning Alpine A442B and the Renault 5 Maxi Turbo rally car with Jean Ragnotti at the wheel.
Meanwhile, Fernando Alonso spent much of his day meeting sponsors and local dignitaries. The hardest job of the day, though, came not at the official press conference, but at a special event held by team partner Mutua Madrilena. For this, Fernando was submitted to tough questioning by a thirty-strong group of local schoolchildren, who grilled him on his departure from Renault in 2007, how many trophies he has won in his career (about 150 for the record) and even queried why he was sporting pink shoes for the day... He responded with good humour, smiles and plenty of ingenuity!
The heart of the show, though, came at 13:45 as chassis R25-03 -- the car used by Giancarlo Fisichella to win last year's Australian Grand Prix -- edged out of the garage and onto the 2.5 km circuit. The crowd of more than a quarter of a million people applauded warmly, chanted Fernando's name and enjoyed his display of high-speed running, standing starts and tyre-smoking doughnuts. With safety for the public a priority, the Spaniard never pushed to the limit, but nevertheless hit speeds of over 250 kph on the specially-constructed course.
"This has been an amazing ten days for Spain," explained Fernando. "Sevilla and Barcelona won the European trophies in football, I had a fantastic weekend in Barcelona with my victory, and Dani Pedrosa and Rafael Nadal did amazing things in MotoGP and tennis. This is a fantastic way to celebrate that week of sporting achievement."
Not only was the event a celebration for Fernando and Renault, it forms a key part of the French manufacturer's Formula 1 philosophy. Programmes like the Renault F1 Roadshow have been designed to let the public celebrate their passion for the sport, and to get them as close as possible to the cars and their heroes, the drivers. Today, that vision became reality for over a quarter of a million people.
"I believe these events are very important for Formula 1," concluded the World Champion. "At the race weekends, we are very busy and it is hard to make time for the public. But on a day like this, we can do things properly: we meet our fans, take pictures, sign autographs and have some fun! It is important for the people to be able to get close our sport, and to celebrate their passion. Renault really wants to help them do this, and everybody enjoys the experience."
For Fernando and the Renault F1 Team, this event marks the beginning of an important week. Not only will they compete in the Monaco Grand Prix next Sunday -- one of just three Grand Prix circuits where Fernando has not yet scored a podium finish -- but tomorrow evening sees both Alonso and the Renault F1 Team nominated at the Laureus World Sports Awards. Fernando Alonso is in contention for World Sportsman of the Year, while the Renault F1 Team has been nominated for World Team of the Year. The ceremony Barcelona will be attended by team Managing Director Flavio Briatore.