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News briefs from Barcelona UPDATE More news briefs from Barcelona.......

Fernando Alonso's vast popularity proved frustrating to the former double world champion at the Circuit de Catalunya on Thursday.

When attempting to meet his fans and sign autographs, the Renault driver found himself amid a frantic crush in the paddock, and ultimately escaped to the sanity of a rival team's garage.

His bodyguard tried fervently - and physically - to give 27-year-old Alonso some space, but the enthusiasm of some members of the press actually led to one or two minor fisticuffs.

Dismayed by the lack of order, Alonso himself raised his voice and demanded calm, before scurrying for cover.


Local forecasts predict a more than 50 per cent chance of rain for Sunday's Spanish grand prix.  After earlier predictions of a dry race meeting, it then rained overnight before the event officially kicked off on Friday.


Sebastian Vettel's entire family is trackside at the Spanish grand prix.  His father Norbert is a paddock regular, but also at the Circuit de Catalunya is mother Heike, sister Stefanie and his 10-year-old brother Fabian.  Asked if the extra attention was a distraction, the 21-year-old German answered simply: "No.  There's only one seat in my car."

05/08/09 (GMM)  Fernando Alonso, who fainted after the recent Bahrain GP, revealed in Barcelona that a failed drinks bottle and faulty radiator made him lose nearly 6 kilograms in the Sakhir desert two weeks ago.

After his winter weight loss of 4kg, it means that after Bahrain the gaunt Spaniard was carrying a total of nearly 10kg less than at points during the 2008 season.


In the same spirit of divulging weight details, Kimi Raikkonen in Spain revealed that he tips the scales with 10 kilos of extra weight than his Ferrari teammate Felipe Massa.

Massa, to get Raikkonen's special light-weight F60 chassis at Monaco, is believed to be about the same weight as Nick Heidfeld, who told reporters on Thursday that he weighs 59 kilograms.

"59 kilos!" an astonished world champion Lewis Hamilton, who said he weighs 67kg, exclaimed.


He may be watching his weight, but Hamilton allowed himself a treat when he sampled the Spanish omelet he cooked up as part of a Vodafone PR event in the Barcelona hills.

The McLaren driver, who spoke in the mandatory FIA press conference but again did not meet with reporters in the paddock, made clear he was not wearing a chef's hat in order to muse the recently-concluded 'lie-gate' saga.

"We're here to talk about today and Vodafone," Hamilton said.  "That's the really important thing."


With a boss like gaudy Flavio Briatore, Renault's Nelson Piquet was asked by reporters if a little "cuddle and reassurance" now and then might ease his current struggle for pace.

"I think that's also part of it," the Brazilian smiled.

"Obviously there's a lot of people in the team who don't like doing cuddling.  But you have to live with that anyway.  The important people that we work with day to day, the engineers, they are trying their best for me."

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