'Nothing compares to this' says jubilant Fernando Alonso after winning European Grand Prix
Monday 25 June 2012
Fernando Alonso was left hailing the best victory of his Formula One career on a day when championship rivals Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel could do nothing but curse.
Alonso's 19th win was courtesy of some spectacular driving, also bore testimony to his grit and determination, and was coated in a sprinkling of good fortune.
Come the conclusion to a stunning European Grand Prix, Alonso had the grandstands dotted around Valencia's port rocking, less than 24 hours after namesake Xabi had fired Spain into the semi-finals of Euro 2012.
In becoming the first driver to win two races this season, Alonso has a 20-point cushion at the top of the standings over Red Bull's Mark Webber who was fourth behind Lotus' Kimi Raikkonen and Mercedes' Michael Schumacher, who was on the podium for the first time since the 2006 Chinese Grand Prix.
"Winning a home grand prix is something unique - a very special feeling," said Alonso.
"I did so in Barcelona in 2006 when I was with Renault and I can still remember that day perfectly.
"Now I've done the same here in Valencia with this special team, Ferrari, with all the grandstands full of red colour and Spanish flags.
"I feel very proud to be a Spanish sportsman at this moment, and winning in Spain is probably the best victory I have ever felt in terms of emotions. Nothing maybe compares to this one."
As for Vettel, he was cruising to his third consecutive victory around the Valencia Street Circuit until the safety car came into play on lap 28 following an incident between Toro Rosso's Jean-Eric Vergne and Heikki Kovalainen in his Caterham.
A lap and a half after the safety car exited following 33 laps the reigning world champion suffered his first mechanical failure for 29 races as he lost the alternator and ground to a halt.
"I lost drive and I had to stop. Why? I don't know," said Vettel.
"There's not much we could have done better, but with reliability we all work on the limit.
"Up to that point we had had a perfect start, perfect pit stop, a perfect race.
"We've made a good step and hopefully we can carry that momentum into the next grand prix (British on July 8)."
Vettel's exit left Alonso being chased by Lotus' Romain Grosjean, but remarkably another alternator issue forced the Frenchman to retire on lap 41.
Then on the 56th and penultimate lap Hamilton was punted off the track and into a wall by Williams' Pastor Maldonado when trying to hold on to third place.
Hamilton said: "You put your heart and soul into some things, and when you don't get the result you feel you worked for it's very tough.
"That's racing. You just have to suck it up and move forward, and there are many races to go."
The incidents mean Alonso is 23 and 26 points respectively ahead of Hamilton and Vettel, with Nico Rosberg 36 down after he was sixth in his Mercedes, sandwiching the Force Indias of Nico Hulkenberg and Paul di Resta.
Jenson Button had to settle for eighth in his McLaren and is now 62 points down on Alonso ahead of his home race at Silverstone.
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