Wednesday, 09 january 2019, 08:32 , by Martin Macdonald
Fernando Alonso may be a two-time Formula 1 world champion, with a reputation as one of the most talented drivers the sport has ever produced, but he has named an off-track achievement as the best moment of his career - winning the prestigious Premio Principe de Asturias award.
The award is given annually in Spain by an individual who has excelled in science, humanities, public affairs and sport to a high level. Alonso was given the honour in 2005, and for him, that eclipses any success behind the wheel.
“The Premio Principe de Asturias is probably the biggest thing I achieved, even more than any Formula 1 championship,” Alonso said.
“That kind of award is about changing people’s lives and introducing a lot of people into one sport. So, those kinds of things are much bigger than any trophy.”
Alonso, who left F1 after the 2018 season after 17 years, is proud that he has been able to catalyse interest in the sport in his home country of Spain, which previously had little enthusiasm for motorsport.
“I am very proud,” he continued.
“I think you only realise with time, when you see how many people follow the sport now in Spain, in my region in Asturias, how many people travel to Oviedo to visit the museum, to have the first go in go-karts.
“A lot of people started following Formula 1 and not Formula 1, motorsports in general, in my country, which definitely was not a tradition.
“We were not broadcasting the races in 2001, 2002, I think it started in the middle of 2003.
“Something that is unthinkable now, when Formula 1 is the second or third sport in Spain, that’s something that I feel really proud of.”