Formula 1 racing teams have released preview statements from drivers and principals ahead of the 2015 Spanish Grand Prix taking place this weekend. The statements were released by Formula 1 on Wednesday, May 6.
Spain’s veteran driver, and two-time World Champion Fernando Alonso shared that he is “incredibly happy to be heading back to Europe, to my home country and racing in front of the loyal Spanish fans.” This season, Alonso goes home not as a driver for the Italian Ferarri team so popular with Spanish fans but for the team he drove for in 2007, Great Britain’s McLaren.
It is difficult to imagine the switch back to McLaren will matter much to Spanish fans, though it will be interesting to see if the furor TV viewers have witnessed for Alonso and Ferrari combined in recent Spanish Grands Prix will dissipate even a little bit when the Formula 1 circus returns to Spain.
Alonso is fully aware that McLaren-Honda is still on an upward learning curve. “We’ve taken some useful steps forward during the flyaway races,” he said, “and I’m looking forward to getting back in the car after the three-week break and continuing our push. We are seeing improvements race by race, and I want to ensure that we maintain this consistency throughout this weekend.”
McLaren-Honda has had a rocky remarriage to say the least. The 2015 re-formed partnership that brought the famed Senna-Prost rivalry in the late 1980s has yet to score points this season. Steady progress, however, has been made race by race, and team principal Ron Dennis remains confident.
Alonso is also patiently working with the team so far to build progress. He commented about this European stage of the season, “It will be very difficult [to progress], as other teams will also have been working hard to develop their cars too, but I’m hopeful that the start of the European season will be positive for us and allow us to carry momentum into the next few races.”
He added about the race in Spain, in particular, “I really enjoy driving on this circuit – it’s high-speed and really tests the balance of the car, so we’ll be working to get that right as soon as we get out on track. There’s a huge amount of positivity in the team and all of us are working hard for better results in each race.”
Importantly, Alonso remains realistic in his expectations. In his preview statement, he remarked:
“Although we won’t be fighting for victory in Barcelona, I know I can count on the support of the fans to bring even more motivation during the whole weekend, which will be very special.”
Also on Wednesday, McLaren revealed a new livery for its MP4-30 racecar. A darker background now features more red accents than earlier in the season.
According to NBC, American viewers will be able to watch Free Practice 2, Qualifying, and the Grand Prix live across NBC television properties. Free Practices 1 and 3 will be livestreamed via NBC’s LiveExtra service. Here is the schedule; all times listed are Eastern:
Friday, May 8:
4:00 a.m. Free Practice 1 — NBC LiveExtra — LIVE.
8:00 a.m. Free Practice 2 — NBCSN — LIVE.
Saturday, May 9:
5:00 a.m. Free Practice 3 — NBC LiveExtra — LIVE.
8:00 a.m. Qualifying — CNBC — LIVE.
Sunday, May 10:
7:30 a.m. Spanish Grand Prix — NBCSN — LIVE.
According to Formula 1, going into the European stint of the 2015 season, McLaren-Honda and thereby neither Alonso nor his teammate Jenson Button have yet to score any championship points as constructors or drivers. While being chased more closely at this point by Ferrari, whose Sebastian Vettel managed to take a win away from them in Malaysia, Mercedes continues winning most of the races with Lewis Hamilton taking pole, charging out front, and staying there to take the win.
Mercedes has 159 points going into Spain with Ferrari the next closest at 107. Hamilton leads with 93 points in the Drivers’ Championship; his next closest competitor remains his teammate Nico Rosberg at 66. Sebastian Vettel is right behind Rosberg for second place with 65 points.
This year, Spanish fans will have two other homegrown drivers to root for when Formula 1 returns to compete on their soil — Spanish driver Carlos Sainz holds 6 championship points so far this year racing for Toro Rosso, and Roberto Merhi pilots a Marussia car.