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Alonso thrills home fans with Valencia win

posted 24 Jun 2012, 13:56 by Mpelembe Admin   [ updated 24 Jun 2012, 13:56 ]

New championship leader Fernando Alonso becomes the first driver to win two races in 2012 at the European Grand Prix and third place Michael Schumacher is back on the podium for first time since 2006.

VALENCIA, SPAIN (JUNE 24, 2012) (FOM) - 
Ferrari's Fernando Alonso thrilled home fans by winning an incident-packed European Grand Prix in Valencia on Sunday (June 24) to take the overall championship lead and become Formula One's first repeat winner of the season.
The Spaniard was joined on the podium by two former Ferrari champions - Kimi Raikkonen second for Lotus and Michael Schumacher third for Mercedes.

German Sebastian Vettel, world champion in 2010 and 2011, had led from pole and was heading towards his third consecutive victory in the port city when his Red Bull lost power in lap 32.

He parked up, tossing a glove at the wall in disgust.

It was the 29th career win for Alonso, who won his two titles with Renault in 2005 and 2006.

Alonso was helped by the mechanical problems that forced Vettel's Red Bull and the Lotus of Romain Grosjean out of the race, while McLaren's previous championship leader Lewis Hamilton crashed out in the closing laps.

It was still a momentous achievement on a twisty street circuit that had seen three of the past four winners start on pole and nobody win from lower than third place.

Grosjean had been competing for the top spot, and the chance of becoming the eighth different winner in eight races, when the Frenchman also had to retire with an alternator problem when

placed second in lap 41 of the 57 lap race.

Hamilton was fighting to defend third place when he was knocked off the track by Venezuelan Pastor Maldonado's Williams, with two laps remaining.

The 2008 champion pounded the steering wheel with his fists in fury, before tossing it out of the cockpit.

Marussia's Timo Glock missed the race after failing to recover from a stomach complaint that forced the German to miss qualifying on Saturday.

Seven times world champion Schumacher made his way through the debris to grab third in his Mercedes, his first podium finish since he was at Ferrari in 2006 and first of a comeback that started in 2010.

Now 43, Schumacher was the oldest driver to stand on the Formula One podium since Australian Jack Brabham finished second at Brands Hatch in Britain at the age of 44 in 1970.

"It is such a wonderful feeling to be back after such a long time. We were a couple of times close to it, finally it happened, it happened in a pretty spectacular way, in a track that is difficult to pass but due to varied strategies and differences on track, it was pretty exciting and that is obviously the best way," the German said.

Kimi Raikkonen said he was expecting more than second place and regretted he was caught up in traffic.

"I mean, we made a good recovery from that position and had quite a hard fight with people, with overtaking and get overtaken so in the end second place is ok but of course not what we wanted."

Alonso, who had said after qualifying on Saturday that the 'podium is out of reach', defied conventional wisdom to take his second victory after Malaysia in March and rated it as the best of his career.

"Feeling very proud to be Spanish sportsman at the moment and winning in Spain this race is probably the best victory I ever felt or intense of emotions maybe nothing compared to this one," he said.

Alonso, who had started 11th on the grid, to the top of the standings with 111 points, 20 clear of Red Bull's Australian Mark Webber, after eight of 20 races.

Results from the European Formula One Grand Prix:

1. Fernando Alonso (Spain) Ferrari 1:44:16.649

2. Kimi Raikkonen (Finland) Lotus +00:06.421

3. Michael Schumacher (Germany) Mercedes +00:12.639

4. Mark Webber (Australia) Red Bull 00:13.628

5. Nico Huelkenberg (Germany) Force India 00:19.993

6. Nico Rosberg (Germany) Mercedes 00:21.176

7. Paul Di Resta (Britain) Force India 00:22.866

8. Jenson Button (Britain) McLaren 00:24.653

9. Sergio Perez (Mexico)Sauber 00:27.777

10. Pastor Maldonado (Venezuela) Williams 00:34.630

11. Bruno Senna (Brazil) Williams 00:35.961

12. Daniel Ricciardo (Australia) Toro Rosso 00:37.041

13. Vitaly Petrov (Russia) Caterham 01:15.871

14. Heikki Kovalainen (Finland) Caterham 01:34.654

15. Charles Pic (France) Marussia 01:36.551

16. Felipe Massa (Brazil)Ferrari 1 lap

17. Pedro de la Rosa (Spain) HRT 1 lap

18. Narain Karthikeyan (India) HRT 1 lap

19r. Lewis Hamilton (Britain) McLaren 2 laps

r. Romain Grosjean (France) Lotus 17 laps

r. Kamui Kobayashi (Japan) Sauber 24 laps

r. Sebastian Vettel (Germany) Red Bull 24 laps

r. Jean-Eric Vergne (France)Toro Rosso 31 laps

(rank: r = retired, nc = not classified)

Fastest Lap: Nico Rosberg, 1:42.163, lap 54.

Driver and constructor standings after the European Formula One Grand Prix

Drivers Points

1. Fernando Alonso (Spain) Ferrari 111

2. Mark Webber (Australia) Red Bull 91

3. Lewis Hamilton (Britain) McLaren 88

4. Sebastian Vettel (Germany) Red Bull 85

5. Nico Rosberg (Germany) Mercedes GP 75

6. Kimi Raikkonen (Finland) Renault 73

7. Romain Grosjean (France) Renault 53

8. Jenson Button (Britain) McLaren 49

9. Sergio Perez (Mexico) Sauber 39

10. Pastor Maldonado (Venezuela) Williams 30

11. Paul Di Resta (Britain) Force India 27

12. Kamui Kobayashi (Japan) Sauber 21

13. Michael Schumacher (Germany) Mercedes GP 17

14. Nico Huelkenberg (Germany) Force India 17

15. Bruno Senna (Brazil) Williams 15

16. Felipe Massa (Brazil) Ferrari 11

17. Jean-Eric Vergne (France) Toro Rosso 4

18. Daniel Ricciardo (Australia) Toro Rosso 2

19. Heikki Kovalainen (Finland) Team Lotus 0

20. Vitaly Petrov (Russia) Team Lotus 0

21. Timo Glock (Germany) Marussia 0

22. Charles Pic (France) Marussia 0

23. Narain Karthikeyan (India) HRT 0

24. Pedro de la Rosa (Spain) HRT 0

Constructors Points

1. Red Bull 176

2. McLaren 137

3. Lotus 126

4. Ferrari 122

5. Mercedes 92

6. Sauber 60

7. Williams 45

8. Force India 44

9. Toro Rosso 6

10. Caterham 0

11. Marussia 0

12. HRT 0