Magic Alonso gives masterclass at Valencia
By Berthold Bouman
Only yesterday Ferrari described their qualifying for the European Grand Prix at Valencia as a ‘cold shower’, today Fernando Alonso emerged as the victor of the race, a race that became hotter and hotter after each lap.
Alonso must be the happiest man in Valencia, as he is now leading the Drivers’ Championship with 111 points, 23 points ahead of his rival Lewis Hamilton, who crashed after completing 55 laps, and is now third in the championship. Mark Webber is currently second with 91 points, while Sebastian Vettel is now fourth with 85 points.
Of course Alonso had a lot of help from Lady Luck, as all his rivals were eliminated one by one. Fist victim was current World Champion Vettel, who had to park his car after being struck by technical problems after leading the race for 33 laps without a glitch. The German was not happy and was seen throwing his gloves onto the track.
Second victim was Romain Grosjean, who was like Alonso the star of the race until his Lotus developed an electrical problem while in second position, until that point the Frenchman was getting closer and closer to Alonso and he could have become the eighth winner of the eighth race of the 2012 season.
Next was Hamilton, who had inherited second place from Grosjean, but two laps before the end he clashed with the Williams of Pastor Maldonado and Hamilton ended up in the tyre barrier, angrily banging his fists on the steering wheel. Kimi Raikkonen in the second Lotus then took over second place, but his tyres were gone and he could not pose a threat to the Ferrari and Alonso crossed the finish line first and won the race.
But, all this would not have been possible if Alonso had not once again demonstrated the complete Formula One fraternity how to win a race from 11th place on the grid. The Spaniard had again one of his famous rocket starts, he passed Nico Hulkenberg and Maldonado on the first lap, then overtook Raikkonen and Kamui Kobayashi during the first round of pit stops.
When the Safety Car came out after Toro Rosso’s Jean-Eric Vergne had hit the Caterham of Heikki Kovalainen, the leaders went quickly into the pit lane for a tyre change, Alonso was able to overtake Hamilton who once more had a disastrous pit stop, his car kept slipping of the front jack, and the Briton thus emerged from the pit lane behind the Ferrari of Alonso.
At the restart Alonso sneaked past Grosjean at the second corner and not much later he was unexpectedly leading the race when Vettel had to give up. So a lot of luck, but luck doesn’t help when you are in 16th position, Alonso was right there with the leaders to make good use of the misfortune of the others.
Ferrari President Luca di Montezemolo could probably not believe his eyes today, yesterday he was shaking his head in disbelief after his drivers had qualified in 11th and 13th place, today Alonso once again showed what a great driver he is, and tonight there will probably be a big party somewhere in Valencia … and if I was Montezemolo, I would pay the bill with a big smile on my face!