F1 leader Fernando Alonso drives in Istanbul

Updated: 25 February 2007 09:52 IST

Fernando Alonso, who is currently leading the Formula One world championship, drove his Renault around Istanbul's historic hippodrome on Sunday.

F1 leader Fernando Alonso drives in Istanbul

Istanbul:

Fernando Alonso, the Spaniard who is currently leading the Formula One world championship by 18 points after five grand prix races this season, drove his Renault around Istanbul's historic hippodrome on Sunday, giving residents a taste of things to come as Turkey prepares for its first-ever Grand Prix on August 21. Some 20,000 spectators gathered in Istanbul's Sultanahmet district to watch Alonso lead a parade of new Renault cars and old racing cars - the team has held similar shows in Madrid, Moscow, Lyon and Rome. Alonso was welcomed to Istanbul outside the city's Blue Mosque by the Mayor of Istanbul, Kadir Doptas, and Renault's Turkish Formula One boss. Alonso then climbed into the cockpit of Renault's 2004 Formula One model and drove for seven laps around an arena that was home to chariot races during the Byzantine era. Turkey is an important market for Renault, who started manufacturing cars in association with a Turkish partner in the late 1960s. Alonso then paid tribute to the crew that comprise Team Renault. "We did a good job in the winter and the team prepared a winning car. Giancarlo and me, we are doing our job which is to drive the car, make no mistakes and win the races and bring victories to the team," said Fernando Alonso, F1 world championship leader. The Spaniard then confidently predicted that Renault will be serious contenders at Formula One's inaugural Grand prix in Istanbul. "I think our car will be the winner (in Turkey) as we arrived in Malaysia and it was hot temperatures on a new track and Bahrain, as well, was very new and had hot temperatures. So, here I think the car will be very quick again," Alonso said. Then it was time for Alonso to head back out on the road to be greeted by flag-waving Renault promotional girls and an army of Turkish F1 fans. The team has held similar shows in Madrid, Moscow, Lyon and Rome but they won't forget their historic appearance in Istanbul. (AP)

Topics : Formula 1 Renault Fernando Alonso Italian Grand Prix Lewis Hamilton McLaren
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