Fernando Alonso has expressed his sadness at the Spanair plane crash that killed 153 people at Madrid's Barajas Airport on Wednesday – revealing that he will wear a black armband in tribute this weekend, as he prepares to race in front of his home fans for the second time this season.
The European Grand Prix – the first Formula 1 race to be held in Valencia – has had a shadow cast over it by the tragedy, and Spaniard Alonso has admitted that the accident has deeply affected him. He is set to discuss with the sport's 19 other drivers whether it will be appropriate to hold a minute's silence ahead of the start of the grand prix on Sunday.
“It will definitely change the weekend for me because it's a tragedy,” the double F1 World Champion reflected, quoted by international news agency Reuters
. “All the Spanish people are in shock and I am too. It's probably the saddest approach to a weekend I have had.
“I will wear a black armband and I will talk with the [other] drivers. Maybe we can do something before starting, maybe one minute's silence in the pit-lane.
“[On Friday] we will start slowly to get into the weekend. Life continues, but it's a different weekend compared to what it should be.”
Indeed, what should have been a celebratory weekend to cap Spain's recent sporting successes – from its football team's Euro 2008 glory to Rafael Nadal's Wimbledon and Olympic Games victories and Carlos Sastre's Tour de France triumph – has been transformed into a sombre three-day period of mourning, with King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia set to visit hospitals, morgues and bereaved families.
Fellow drivers certainly seem to be in accordance with Alonso's wishes, with Lewis Hamilton, Felipe Massa and Jarno Trulli all agreeing when questioned on the subject that a minute's silence would be the right way to pay their respects.
“I would definitely be looking to do that,” Hamilton acknowledged. “I just want to send out my heartfelt thoughts and best wishes to all the families and to all the people in Spain. I think it's a tragedy; I was really sad to hear it had happened.
“We're in a beautiful country, in a beautiful city. I just hope that doesn't stall our weekend. I hope we are able to move on and do the country proud.”