Lee McKenzie's guest blog from northern Spain
The Mole welcomes back BBC F1 pit-lane reporter Lee McKenzie to the blog as she reports from Fernando Alonso's fan-pleasing trip back home.
More than 170,000 people flocked to see the return of Oviedo's favourite son in his beloved Spanish hometown at the weekend. And they were not to be disappointed.
Fernando Alonso put on a great show and looked like he was enjoying himself as much as anyone in the crowd.
I was lucky enough to be there for two days to interview the double world champion and, more specifically, to witness him giving something back to the area in which he grew up.
It was intriguing to see Alonso away from the track. He was extremely relaxed and a true gentleman, giving time to all the wide-eyed fans who had come out to see him. It must have been a relief to have some fun and escape all the controversy haunting Renault and the swirling, persistent questions involving his future.
Coming from a humble background in which football was an accepted obsession, Alonso took a relatively untrodden childhood path in focusing on karting and motor sport. After a brief period attempting to be a goalkeeper, he gave it up - though he still plays in the odd charity match - and set his sights on being the fastest driver in the world's most glamorous sport.
Though the 28-year-old always shies away from the limelight at the track (if not on it), he was in true showman role on Saturday as he drove a selection of Renault's road and sports cars - along with his new 'Fernando Alonso kart' - around the historic streets and squares of the northern Spanish city.
The highlight for me was not actually the F1 car, as these things can only go so fast down your average high street. But it was the car and kart control he displayed. This little machine took off like a rocket and Alonso's famous one-finger-in-the-air doughnut in the F1 car was completely outdone when he took both hands off the steering wheel and continued to do doughnuts in the kart. Incredible.
As he did endless laps of the two-kilometre track, he would stop, get out and run to the crowd, taking cameras off people, taking photos and sometimes making his own on-boards with someone's video camera. I have no idea if the cameras ever got back to the correct people, but someone in the crowd got them!
The interview afterwards was certainly interesting and although he was tight-lipped about his widely predicted move to Ferrari, he gave some very insightful answers about F1, his rivals, and especially how he sees himself as a driver: "I might not be fastest, or the most technical, but I am consistent."
He also told me he is desperate to win not just one more title, but hopefully more. 'Nando' is always a good interviewee, giving intelligent and considered answers. But this weekend also showed him to be a humble guy who loves his country and is keen to give something back. Even if he wouldn't answer questions about prancing horses last weekend, I would think maybe this weekend in Monza we will get a bit closer to the truth.
The feature can be seen on BBC1's coverage of the Italian Grand Prix from Monza from 1210 BST on Sunday 13 September.