Grapevine: Final News from the Paddock - Spanish GP

Packed Out

Grapevine: Final News from the Paddock - Spanish GP

Packed Out

Formula One â€" or more accurately Spaniard Fernando Alonso - appears to have won over the Spanish public if the crowd figures at the Circuit de Catalunya this weekend are anything to go by. In a country that has failed to be inspired by Grand Prix racing and has more interest in two-wheeled racing than four, the crowd of 22,000 for Thursday, when no Formula One running takes place, was a pointer towards things to come.

The Friday crowd rose to 46,000 â€" compared to less than 10,000 at Imola, the home of Formula One's famous Tifosi, two weeks before â€" and Saturday saw 86,000 people pass through the turnstiles. Alonso's performance in qualifying, when he put his Renault on the second row, ensured a sell-out crowd of 96,000 on race day boosted the overall total to an astonishing 250,000. So, that's a quarter-of-a-million Alonso fans.

Family Support

Fernando Alonso was boosted by a bit of home support this weekend as three very special fans turned up to watch him. His mother Ana, father Jose Luis, who built him a kart at the age of two, and sister Lorena all attended the race. And the Spaniard was even more in demand after finishing in second place, when one circuit helper asked him to speak to his friend on the phone.

Timing Error

According to the screens in the media centre, Jos Verstappen crashed out of the Spanish Grand Prix on the opening lap even though he steered his Minardi car all the way to the finish on Sunday. The officials quickly noticed, during the chaotic start of the race, that car 19, 'Jos the Boss', was the car which had been hit in the back by Championship leader Kimi Raikkonen and put the information on the screen. But they rapidly realised they had got confused and the error was soon corrected to under-fire Jaguar driver Antonio Pizzonia with a note saying 'Car 15 (not 19) stopped on the grid' and Jos was allowed to carry on his merry way.

Tight Lipped Striker

Brazilian Roberto Carlos appeared as one of the big stars on the grid in Barcelona and was forced to suffer the cackles of the locals after his Real Madrid side â€" of which Fernando Alonso is a fan - lost 5-1 at home to Real Mallorca on Saturday evening. But that was not all he had to contend with as he strolled the grid before the race and he used a simple tactic to avoid the questioning from former Formula One driver, now ITV commentator, Martin Brundle. Keen to get an exclusive about the rumours of England and Manchester United star David Beckham joining Real, Brundle asked Carlos if he knew anything about it. His reply: "I don't speak English." Genius.

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