Some grandstands were only half full on Saturday, despite the Circuit de Catalunya usually proving a sellout.

Some grandstands were only half full on Saturday, despite the Circuit de Catalunya usually proving a sellout.

The Spanish crowd idolises its hero Fernando Alonso, but the economic crisis, perhaps coupled with the fear of swine flu, has caused many fans to stay away in 2009.

It is also impossible to ignore the fact that Alonso's is not a race-winning car.

Alonso, 27, agreed: "Because people know what the situation is at the moment they are not really that interested anymore."

He also suggested that F1's new pecking order, with names like Brawn and Red Bull topping the charts, is confusing the public.

"In this championship there are no battles between Ferrari and McLaren, no battles between Hamilton, Raikkonen, Alonso, so it's a little bit difficult to explain that to people," said Alonso.

The official attendance figure for qualifying was 61,000, with organisers hoping for 90,000 for the race.

 

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