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GP Week : Issue 25
>>F1EUROPE A real champion? FERNANDO Alonso is a driver who has come in for a fair bit of stick in his career. It was not long ago that Bernie Ecclestone said of him: “We have a world champion now, Fernando, who doesn’t do too much,”in relation to giving something back to the sport. Alonso can sometimes come across as cold, and selfish … arrogant. Valencia, however, showed a new side to the double world champion. There was something different to him. Something responsible, genuine and caring. When Lewis Hamilton came in for a barrage of racist abuse at a test in Spain, many hoped Alonso would step up and make a statement to the Spanish fans. But he didn’t. It was a situation he could have made an attempt to diffuse, but he failed to do so and the sport, directly or indirectly, suffered. In Valencia however, Fernando Alonso found himself as the focal point of a nation’s grief. The Madrid air disaster had cast a dark shadow over the opening days of Valencia’s inaugural Grand Prix, but Alonso appeared as a beacon of light. He was sombre and emotional, but it never came across as being insincere as such public displays of grief can often appear. His efforts to have silences observed, and to place a Spanish flag on every driver’s helmet, were the acts not of someone selfish and cold. You could see it in his face, hear it in the way he spoke. He just seemed more mature. There was something about the way he walked, the way he stopped to have photographs taken with fans with a smile on his face instead of the usual look of apathy. Alonso’s movements for 2009 are the hottest topic of discussion in the paddock at the moment, but as ever he refused to be drawn. He wasn’t talking to anybody at the moment apparently, so we should stop asking about it. Of course, one of the best reasons for not talking to anybody is because you’ve already got a deal in place. Many believe this to be with Ferrari, for 2010 at the latest. Could this be why he’s not discussing his future with anyone? Could this be why, on qualifying 12th, he wasn’t overly worried? Could this be why, after retiring after the first lap of the race, he simply shrugged it off as one of those things? Could this be why he seemed so much more relaxed, so much more mature … so much more real? Or had the finality of events in Madrid had such an effect on him that it had changed something deeper? It seems almost frivolous to speculate. But the Alonso we saw in Spain, appeared the person Ecclestone may just have wished for when he made his comments. This weekend, Fernando Alonso acted like a true champion … both of the sport, and of the millions of people who adore it, and in particular, him. Pos # Driver 1 2 FORMULA 1 Round 12 VALENCIA Team Felipe Massa 2 22 Lewis Hamilton 3 4 Robert Kubica 6 15 Sebastian Vettel 7 12 Timo Glock 8 7 Nico Rosberg 9 3 Nick Heidfeld Nelsinho Piquet 12 10 Mark Webber 13 16 Jenson Button Ferrari McLaren-Mercedes 57 BMW Sauber 57 4 23 Heikki Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes 57 5 11 Jarno Trulli Toyota STR-Ferrari Toyota Williams-Toyota BMW Sauber 10 14 Sebastien Bourdais STR-Ferrari 11 6 Renault Red Bull-Renault Honda Kazuki Nakajima Williams-Toyota 16 17 Rubens Barrichello Honda 17 9 Ret 1 David Coulthard Kimi Räikkönen Ret 20 Adrian Sutil Ret 5 Fernando Alonso 57 57 57 57 57 57 57 56 56 14 21 Giancarlo Fisichella Force India-Ferrari 56 15 8 Red Bull-Renault Ferrari 56 56 56 45 Force India-Ferrari 41 Renault 0 Laps 57 Time 1:35:32.339 +5.6s +37.3s +39.7s +50.6s +52.6s +67.9s +71.4s +82.1s +89.7s +92.7s +1 Lap +1 Lap +1 Lap +1 Lap +1 Lap +1 Lap Engine Accident Accident Points – Drivers: Hamilton 70, Massa 64, Raikkonen 57, Kubica 55, Kovalainen 43, Heidfeld 41, Trulli 26, Webber 18, Alonso 18, Glock 15. Manufacturers: Ferrari 121, McLaren-Mercedes 113, BMW 96, Toyota 41, Renault 31, Red Bull 24, Williams-Toyota 17, Honda 14. 33 Grid 1 2 3 5 7 6 13 9 8 10 15 14 16 18 11 19 17 4 20 12