Fernando Alonso has revealed that his mind was not totally on the job of racing in the French Grand Prix, after discovering that a close friend was among the two confirmed fatalities in Saturday's helicopter crash close to Magny-Cours.

While all initial reports centred on suggestions that Bridgestone personnel had been killed, it was later revealed that they had survived with serious injuries and that the dead included a representative of the Alpinestars clothing company and Quiksilver PR operative Emmanuel Longobardi, with whom Alonso had spent some of Saturday afternoon.

"I was with him on Saturday afternoon, as I have formed a good friendship with him over the years ago," the saddened Spaniard confirmed, "Afterwards, he went to his hotel and I went to mine - but he caught the helicopter and, unfortunately, we lost him. This type of thing causes you to put things in perspective, especially racing, and to realise that the most important thing in life is to wake up healthy every morning."

The pilot of the aircraft, Pierre Bennehard, was also killed in the accident alongside New Zealander Simon MacGill. Bridgestone's director of public relations Nicolas Duquesne and his niece Chloe Daudier de Cassini both survived the incident, which occurred shortly after the aircraft left the Magny-Cours circuit to head to nearby Castel Donzy.

 

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