Fernando Alonso, returning to the track where his crash in testing three months ago led to speculation his career may be over, has thanked hospital staff for the treatment he received.
Alonso missed the opening Formula One race in Melbourne on 15 March after suffering concussion in the incident at the Circuit de Catalunya the previous month. Now he plans to treat the hospital staff to a night out in Barcelona. “The week I was in hospital I had the best staff I could imagine. They were so kind to me and I want to have dinner with them,” the McLaren driver said.
Alonso, whose beard and large sunglasses gave the impression he was travelling incognito, was in confident mood. “I have no concerns. It is an accident that happened three months ago. Unfortunately it was a little bit longer to recover and the impact was a little bit unlucky and it put me out of the car for one month. I’m coming back here with full confidence and full motivation to deliver a good result in front of a home crowd.”
Alonso and his team-mate Jenson Button have struggled as McLaren have adapted to their Honda power unit. The team do not have a point as they approach the fifth race of the season here on Sunday.
The Spanish Grand Prix, which marks Formula One’s return to Europe, is the race to which teams bring upgrades and Alonso is banking on an improved car to get him into the points at his home grand prix.
He said: “In Bahrain we had an extra step that brought us closer to Q3 and to the points. Another small step to improve is our goal. Obviously this is not what we want, we want to be on the podium and win races but it is one step at a time. We need to see what the rest are bringing here. Usually people bring good updates but it is a matter of which ones make the bigger steps.”
Caterham’s factory in Leafield, Oxfordshire, is to be sold and auctioneers are seeking offers of more than £5.5m. They failed to score a point in five seasons in F1 and 200 staff were made redundant when the team went into administration last October.
The British driver Will Stevens, who raced for Caterham in Abu Dhabi last year and is now with Manor Marussia, had considered buying his car’s steering wheel as a memento. “It would be cool to have my steering wheel from my first grand prix to keep,” he said, “but I’m not sure if it’s still around any more. I’m not sure how much it would even go for.”
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