Formula One: Alonso happy to race at home, tells Spanish fans he won't be in hunt for win

McLaren Honda Spanish driver Fernando Alonso walks down the pit during the qualification session for the Bahrain Formula One Grand Prix on April 18, 2015. -- PHOTO: AFP
McLaren Honda Spanish driver Fernando Alonso walks down the pit during the qualification session for the Bahrain Formula One Grand Prix on April 18, 2015. -- PHOTO: AFP

BARCELONA (Reuters) - While Lewis Hamilton chases his fourth victory in five races in Barcelona this weekend, much of the immediate attention at the Spanish Grand Prix will be on a home hero with no hope of winning.

Bookmakers were last week offering better odds, before the birth, on Britain's latest royal baby being named Macbeth than on Fernando Alonso's McLaren team winning at the Circuit de Catalunya.

They are now a more reasonable 250-1 on the Spaniard, winner in Barcelona with Ferrari in 2013 and Renault in 2006, and team-mate Jenson Button although just getting into the points for the first time this year will be a big step up for the ex-champions.

Alonso will be very much in the spotlight on his return to the circuit where he crashed heavily in pre-season testing.

Neither McLaren nor Alonso made any mention of the incident in their pre-race preview, preferring to focus on improvements they expect to see in the first race of the European season.

"I'm incredibly happy to be heading back to Europe, to my home country and racing in front of the loyal Spanish fans," said Alonso.

"We are seeing improvements race by race, and I want to ensure that we maintain this consistency throughout this weekend.

"Although we won't be fighting for victory in Barcelona, I know I can count on the support of the fans to bring even more motivation during the whole weekend, which will be very special."

The battle at the front is still likely to be between Mercedes, with double world champion Hamilton in commanding form, and resurgent Ferrari.