Formula One

 
            === Alonso wins European GP, takes over points lead ===
 
 Valencia,  Spain (Sports  Network) - Spaniard Fernando Alonso became the first
 repeat  winner  of the  2012  Formula  One season  and  moved  atop the  world
 championship standings with a stunning victory in the European Grand Prix.
 
 After starting 11th, Alonso, from Ferrari, delighted the Spanish crowd on hand
 at  the Valencia  street circuit  when  he grabbed  the lead  from Red  Bull's
 Sebastian  Vettel just  past the halfway point in the 57-lap race. Vettel, the
 two-time  defending  F1 world champion and  winner of the European GP the past
 two  years, stalled  on the track due  to a mechanical issue and was forced to
 retire.
 
 Vettel  had  led the  first 33 laps  and held a  20-second advantage over then
 second-place Romain Grosjean from Lotus before the safety car was deployed for
 an  incident involving  Caterham's Heikki Kovalainen and Jean-Eric Vergne from
 Toro Rosso.
 
 "I  was in control, but the safety car came out, and that was the beginning of
 the  end," a disappointed  Vettel said. " The safety car broke us. It leaves a
 bit of bitter taste in your mouth to be stranded on the track in that way."
 
 Alonso  was  running in  third during  the caution period,  but after the race
 resumed,  he overtook  Grosjean for second. After inheriting the top spot upon
 Vettel's  demise, Alonso ran in front for the remainder of the event, crossing
 the finish line 6.4 seconds ahead of Kimi Raikkonen from Lotus.
 
 "It's really difficult to express in words what my feeling is at the moment of
 winning  your home grand  prix," Alonso said. "It is unique and a very special
 feeling.  I  had the opportunity  to win in  Barcelona (Spanish Grand Prix) in
 2006, and I still remember that day perfectly. And now, I did the same here in
 Valencia."
 
 Alonso,  a  two-time F1 titleholder,  recorded his  29th career win. His first
 victory this season came in the March 25 Malaysian Grand Prix. Alonso also won
 the  European GP  in 2005  and '07,  when it  was held  at the  Nurburgring in
 Nurburg, Germany.
 
 "This  race is  probably the  best  victory I've  ever  felt, or  in terms  of
 emotions, nothing maybe compares this one," he added.
 
 This  F1 season had featured a record seven different winners in as many grand
 prix.
 
 McLaren's  Lewis  Hamilton was running in  second with two laps remaining, but
 Hamilton  was fading  on his  old tires,  allowing Raikkonen  to pass  him for
 position.
 
 "I think everybody had old tires at the end of the race, but I had just enough
 tires  left  to get past  Hamilton," Raikkonen said.  "I didn't have the speed
 today to challenge for the win."
 
 For  the first time since coming out of retirement in 2010, Michael Schumacher
 from  Mercedes  made his  first  podium  appearance  with a  third-place  run.
 Schumacher,  the  record seven-time F1  champion, took a three-year break from
 the sport following the '06 season.
 
 "I  actually didn't think  about a podium at all," he admitted. "At the end of
 the  race when  I was crossing the line,  I asked my guys where did we finish,
 because  I saw (Mark)  Webber's pit board, and close to the end, it showed him
 eighth  and then seventh, so I knew I was one place ahead of him. And the boys
 told  me  that it  was third  - that's  podium. I  couldn't believe that. It's
 something that I really didn't expect."
 
 Webber from Red Bull finished fourth, while Force India's Nico Hulkenberg took
 the fifth spot.
 
 Shortly  after Raikkonen  took second  from Hamilton  on the  penultimate lap,
 Pastor  Maldonado  from Williams caught  up with  Hamilton and battled him for
 third.  Both  drivers made contact,  with the  McLaren driver spinning out and
 making contact with the barrier.
 
 Hamilton  and Maldonado  met with the stewards following the conclusion of the
 race  to discuss their  incident. Maldonado put the blame on Hamilton.
 
 "He  tried to put  me off of the track, and he didn't leave me any room," said
 Maldonado,  who  won the  Spanish GP last  month. "I jumped  over the curb and
 couldn't avoid the accident. I don't know why he drove like that."
 
 However,  stewards  didn't see  it that  way, as  they penalized Maldonado for
 failing  to  rejoin the track  in a  safe manner after  he ran off the circuit
 while  attempting to  pass Hamilton.  Maldonado was  originally credited  with
 10th-place, but a 20-second penalty dropped him to 12th.
 
 Hamilton finished 19th.
 
 "Today  was just  a bad day in  the office, but that's motor racing," he said.
 
 Alonso  has accumulated  111 points  so far  this season,  compared to  91 for
 Webber. Hamilton entered this race with the points lead but has now dropped to
 23 markers behind. Vettel is 26 down.
 
 Marussia's Timo Glock did not compete in the European GP due to a stomach bug.
 The  ailment  also prevented  Glock from taking  part in Saturday's qualifying
 session.
 
 06/24 15:58:08 ET

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