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Alonso Is Making Payments On His New Ferrari

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Tuesday, June 26 2012

Fernando Alonso said he had a special win for a special team.

By John Sturbin | Senior Writer

Fernando Alonso delivered the second return on Scuderia Ferrari’s $32-million annual investment in him on Sunday, scoring an emotional Formula One victory in the Grand Prix of Europe before his adoring countrymen in Valencia, Spain.

Alonso, who openly discounted his podium chances after qualifying 11th on Saturday, became the first repeat winner in the FIA series’ eighth race of 2012. The two-time World Driving Champion took a huge step toward a third title, exiting the Valencia Circuit with a 20-point lead (111-91) over Mark Webber of Red Bull/Renault.

Former World Champion Lewis Hamilton of McLaren/Mercedes, who began the day with a two-point lead over Alonso after winning the Canadian Grand Prix, was knocked out of the race by Pastor Maldonado of Williams/Renault in a last-lap wheel-to-wheel battle. Hamilton, who finished 19th, dropped to third in the points race with 88.

Kimi Raikkonen of Lotus/Renault and Michael Schumacher of Mercedes AMG joined Alonso on a podium featuring drivers who all have won World Championships for Ferrari.

“It’s really difficult to express in words the feeling…winning the home grand prix is something unique, a very special feeling,” said Alonso, who inherited the point when two-time/reigning World Champion Sebastien Vettel’s Red Bull/Renault retired while in the lead on Lap 33 of the 57. “I had the opportunity in Barcelona in 2006 with Renault and still remember that day personally. And now here in Valencia, with this special team, Ferrari.”

Alonso’s victory on the 3.4-mile/25-turn circuit came less than 24 hours after Spain’s national soccer team advanced to the semifinals at Euro 2012 with a win over France. “The stands were full of color and Spanish flags and, after the footballers won at Euro 2012, I am feeling very proud to be Spanish at the moment,” Alonso said. “This race is probably the best victory I’ve ever felt or in terms of emotions…nothing maybe compares to this one.”

Webber – who started 19th – finished fourth, followed by Nico Hulkenberg of Force India/Mercedes and Nico Rosberg of Mercedes AMG.

Vettel’s 33rd career pole ended with a 21st-place finish when his Renault engine stalled and switched off. Vettel had won this event the past two years.

Raikkonen, the 2007 World Champion, moved into second past Maldonado on Lap 55 en route to his third podium of 2012. “I had enough tires to get past Hamilton at the second last-lap or the third last-lap but I didn’t have the speed today to challenge for the win,” Raikkonen said.

The Hamilton-Maldonado incident boosted Schumacher, a seven-time World Champion, into the top three. At age 43, Schumacher became the oldest podium finisher since Australian Jack Brabham, in 1970, when he was 44.

Schumacher, who came out of retirement with Mercedes in 2010, said his first podium since the 2006 Chinese Grand Prix was breaking news.

“Near the end of the race it was crossing the line that I asked my guys, ‘Where did we finish?’ ” Schumacher said. “Because I saw Webber’s pit board and close to the end it showed him eighth, seventh…and I knew I was one place ahead of him. And the voice told me, ‘That’s third _ that’s podium!’ I can’t believe that. That’s something I didn’t really expect. You sort of lose count, because I was pretty busy in the last stage of the race, plus then Maldonado and Hamilton had their issue.

“Yeah, it’s those moments that definitely you enjoy deeply. It’s just a wonderful feeling to be back up there after such a long time. We were a couple of times close to it, finally it happened. It happened in a pretty spectacular way on the track that is difficult to pass. But due to various strategies and differences on track it was pretty exciting and that’s obviously the best way _ if you manage the way I did today to jump to the podium unexpectedly, makes you extra happy.”

Alonso’s $32-million salary marks him as the world’s highest-paid racing driver and 19th overall, according to Forbes’ The World’s 100 Highest-Paid Athletes list. Ferrari reportedly pays the Spaniard $29-million per year, as his countrymen struggle with a deteriorating economy.

Upset after Alonso failed to advance to Q3 on Saturday, Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo opted to return to Italy rather than spend race day at the circuit.

“It’s unpredictable. It’s sport and sport is about that  sport is about up-and-downs,” said Alonso, winner of the Malaysian Grand Prix earlier this year. “Saturday was a tough moment…we were not in Q3 but you can never give up because anything can happen in sport in general – but maybe more in Formula One because there are many factors inside – the car, brakes, engines…anything can have a failure in the race. There’s a lot of things that we need to take care – the strategy, the start, overtaking maneuvers. So when you put all these in one thing you have a Formula One grand prix.

“We had an amazing race, amazing start, some good fights – I remember six or seven opportunities where we were very close – all those little moments can go everything on the wrong side and you finish the race on the wall or you can be the winner at the end. Today we had all the good factors we’ve had, all the luck we’ve had and we have to enjoy it.”

Formula One’s newest venue will showcase a selection of the sport’s iconic cars when the Historic Grand Prix (HGP) series competes at Circuit of The Americas as a support race for the 2012 United States Grand Prix in Austin, Texas.

Historic Grand Prix is the first support series booked for the inaugural F1 weekend Nov. 16-18 on the purpose-built, 3.4-mile road-course under construction in southeast Travis County. The Historic Grand Prix organization offers a glimpse into the sport’s past for drivers and fans via more than 50 owner/drivers of authentic, vintage Formula One™ cars from the FIA 3-litre Formula era that ran from 1966-1983. The organization’s goal is to preserve the historically correct presentation and on-track performance of these cars.

“The cars of Historic Grand Prix encompass Formula One’s Golden Era of the late 1960s, 1970s and early 1980s, when the dramatic on-track action and distinctive personalities captured the imagination of a fast-growing, world-wide audience,” James King, director of HGP, said in a statement. “HGP honors the brave drivers of these cars and the innovative designers and fabricators who crafted them without the aid of computers or wind tunnels by showcasing the authentic original cars in an exciting and colorful race at Circuit of The Americas.”

HGP will give spectators the opportunity to see these classic cars up-close. Some of the cars’ original mechanics continue to prepare and maintain the vehicles, while the current drivers proudly honor the original pilots.

“Having the rolling museum of Historic Grand Prix together with the modern F1™ cars will thrill new and old fans alike,” said Bud Moeller, HGP driver. “F1 back in the United States again is what we’ve all been hoping for, and driving a new track is a great equalizer. I’m really looking forward to it.”

HGP races throughout North America at circuits including Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Quebec, Canada, and Watkins Glen International in Upstate New York – F1’s original home in the USA.

“Historic Grand Prix is a great compliment to the USGP as it allows our fans to see the technical and innovative progression of Formula 1 racing cars,” said Bruce Knox, COTA’s executive vice president. “Many of the HGP cars are legendary and include Mario Andretti’s Lotus 79 that won the 1978 World Driving Championship; Niki Lauda’s 1976 Ferrari 312-T2 that finished second in 1976 and was part of his 1977 World Championship and Gilles Villeneuve’s 1980 Ferrari 312-T5. Historic Grand Prix is a series that was widely requested by our customers and we are pleased that it will be included as a USGP support race.”

Details on dates and times for the Historic Grand Prix at Circuit of The Americas will be found at www.CircuitofTheAmericas.com in the coming months. More information on the HGP organization and participating drivers can be accessed at www.historicgrandprix.com.

V8 Supercar star Mark “Frosty” Winterbottom was scheduled to tour and test-drive portions of Circuit of The Americas on Tuesday. V8 Supercars and COTA announced a five-year agreement last June to bring the globe-trotting series to Texas beginning in 2013.

The 2012 V8 Supercars Championship, which consists of 15 events encompassing Australia, New Zealand and Abu Dhabi, is the world’s leading Touring Car series as recognized by the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA), the world governing body of motorsport.

In 2011 more than 1.75-million fans attended a V8 Supercar event, with every race telecast live on the Seven Network across Australia and the TV3 Network in New Zealand. SPEED televises every championship event in the United States, with selected events live. Outside of Australia and New Zealand, the United States is the largest consumer of V8 Supercars on television and digital media.

The series was granted “international status” by the FIA in 2011, enabling V8 Supercars to race at up to six international destinations each year. The series’ flagship and world-renowned races include the Clipsal 500 in Adelaide, Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000, Armor All Gold Coast 600 and the season-ending Sydney Telstra 500 on the streets of Olympic Park in Sydney.

Backing for V8 Supercars and its teams is at an all-time high, with an estimated annual sponsorship portfolio in excess of $150-million. V8 Supercars’ major backer is BigPond, Australia’s largest ISP provider. Etihad Airways is the series’ official international airline, with Virgin its domestic partner.

All V8 Supercars run on 85 per cent CSR Ethanol, a renewable fuel made from the bi-product of the sugar refining process. More information can be found at v8supercars.com.au or v8supercarevents.com.au.

Circuit of The Americas officials have released thousands of additional reserved seats for November’s inaugural Formula One USGP. The approximately 15,000 seats are located in two grandstand bleacher sections at Turn 9 and Turn 11 West. Turn 9 slopes toward Turn 10 _ second-highest elevation point of the circuit _and will give fans an unobstructed view of the cars as they speed downhill towards Turn 11.

Turn 11 West will feature views of the cars as they rush down the hill from Turn 10 at projected speeds of 180 mph to take the Turn 11 hairpin before accelerating full-throttle down the track’s longest straightaway. Three-day reserved grandstand seats at Turn 9 are priced at $299 per person, while Turn 11 West tickets are available for $269 per person. The additional reserved seats are on sale now at www.cotausgp.com or by dialing the Ticketmaster hotline at 800.745.3000.

Final FIA Formula 1 Grand Prix of Europe results with car number in parentheses, driver, country, chassis/engine and time/laps differential:

1. (5) Fernando Alonso, Spain, Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro, 1:44:16.649-seconds

2. (9) Kimi Raikkonen, Finland, Lotus/Renault, plus 6.4-seconds

3. (7) Michael Schumacher, Germany, Mercedes AMG, plus 12.6-seconds

4. (2) Mark Webber, Australia, Red Bull Racing/Renault, plus 13.6-seconds

5. (12) Nico Hulkenberg, Germany, Force India/Mercedes, plus 19.9-seconds

6. (8) Nico Rosberg, Germany, Mercedes AMG, plus 21.1-seconds

7. (11) Paul di Resta, Great Britain, Force India/Mercedes, plus 22.8-seconds

8. (3) Jenson Button, Great Britain, Vodafone McLaren/Mercedes, 24.6-seconds

9. (15) Sergio Perez, Mexico, Sauber/Ferrari, plus 27.7-seconds

10. (18) Pastor Maldonado, Venezuela, Williams/Renault, plus 34.6-seconds

11. (19) Bruno Senna, Brazil, Williams/Renault, plus 35.9-seconds

12. (16) Daniel Ricciardo, Australia, Scuderia Toro Rosso/Ferrari, 37.0-seconds

13. (21) Vitaly Petrov, Russia, Caterham/Renault, plus 75.8-seconds

14. (20) Heikki Kovalainen, Finland, Caterham/Renault, plus 94.6-seconds

15. (25) Charles Pic, France, Marussia/Cosworth, plus 96.5-seconds

16. (6) Felipe Massa, Brazil, Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro, plus 1 lap

17. (22) Pedro de la Rosa, Spain, HRT/Cosworth, plus 1 lap

18. (23) Narain Karthikeyan, India, HRT/Cosworth, plus 1 lap

19. (4) Lewis Hamilton, Great Britain, Vodafone McLaren/Mercedes, accident

20. (10) Romain Grosjean, France, Lotus/Renault, retired, plus 17 laps

21.(1) Sebastian Vettel, Germany, Red Bull Racing/Renault, retired, plus 24 laps

22. (14) Kamui Kobayashi, Japan, Sauber/Ferrari, retired, plus 24 laps

23. (17) Jean-Eric Vergne, France, Scuderia Toro Rosso/Ferrari, retired, plus 31 laps

24. (24) Timo Glock, Germany, Marussia/Cosworth, did not start

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Tuesday, June 26 2012
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