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Fit and fast Fernando

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F1 Mole | 06:24 UK time, Thursday, 12 March 2009

In Barcelona

All eyes are guaranteed to be on local hero Fernando Alonso in Barcelona but this week he has been that bit harder to spot.

Buoyed by Renault's hot form in testing, the double world champion has really got his game face on as he ducks between the thronging fans in the paddock at this week's major pre-season test.

But there is something else that is different about Alonso - how much weight he has lost.

The Mole has no idea how much hair weighs but gone are the long, messy locks that have become synonymous with Alonso while he has been at Renault.

Replacing that style is a short number all the better to show off his sharply defined chin because gone, too, is the hint of a jowl around his cheeks.

alonsothisap416.jpg

That's not to say Alonso was overweight before - Formula One drivers are some of the fittest athletes in the world.

But Renault say the 27-year-old has lost between two and three kilos since the end of last season, and that's down to a new training regime this winter.

Instead of lifting heavy weights to bulk up, Alonso has been doing more cardiovascular work to reduce muscle and he says he has spent most of the break out and about on his bike.

The reason for Alonso's shrinking waist - and hair - line is the introduction of this year of kinetic energy recovery systems (Kers) into F1.

The system, which gives drivers an extra boost of 80bhp for up to 6.7 seconds per lap, weighs about 35kg.

That is not much less than the amount of ballast teams were routinely using in 2008 to bring their cars up to the minimum weight limit of 605kg with the driver on board.

Last year the teams could put that ballast on board wherever it helped the weight distribution and centre of gravity the most - making the car go faster.

But with Kers taking up much of that difference this year, the teams have much less flexibility to use ballast to tune the car.

So the less the driver weighs, the more ballast the team can add to the car - and in the right places.

One driver who must have followed a similar weight loss plan to Alonso is Brawn GP's Rubens Barrichello.

He must be kicking himself now.

The Brazilian looks like he has put himself through a horrible diet only to find out that, as things stand, Brawn GP have no plans to run Kers at any point during the season.

Time to head to hospitality, Rubens. Just don't tell Fernando.

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