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GP Week : Issue 159
Fernando Alonso hailed his first home victory in six years as the best win of his career, after coming from a lowly 11th place on the grid to win. The Spaniard had a mid-race Safety Car period and the retirement of dominant race leader Sebastian Vettel to thank for his 25-point haul, but once in the lead the double world champion didn’t put a foot wrong. “It's difficult to express in words what the feeling is now. Winning a home grand prix is something unique – a very special feeling,” began Alonso, after an emotional podium celebration. “I had the opportunity to do this in Barcelona in 2006 with Renault and I still remember that day perfectly. And now I did the same here in Valencia, with this special team, Ferrari, with all the grandstand full of red colour and Spanish flags. “I’m feeling very proud to be a Spanish sportsman at the moment and winning in Spain this race is probably the best victory I ever felt in terms of emotions. Nothing maybe compares to this one.” Alonso had to wait until lap 34 to take the lead when Vettel retired, but he had already done a mammoth amount of work to climb from so far down the grid. He picked off three rivals on the first lap to lie eighth, then overtook Hulkenberg for seventh before a rapid lap 15 pitstop allowed him to jump both Maldonado and Raikkonen. A slow pitstop for Hamilton behind the Safety Car promoted Alonso further before he made a crucial, potentially race-winning pass on Grosjean at Tvurn 2 when the Safety Car pitted to take second that soon became the lead. But the last 10 laps were anything but straightfor ward for Alonso, as it turns out he was struggling greatly with tyre wear on his Ferrari. Having plummeted from first to fifth in Canada just a fortnight ago he was wary not to make the same mistake twice and strongly considered pitting. “I said to the team about eight laps from the end 'the tyres are finished, we need to do something'. They said: 'wait one more sector because they are not quicker than you at this moment',” he recalled. “The next sector they were the same as me. So they said: 'wait one more lap to see how much quicker they are' and the next lap they were the same time as us. “Wait another lap and wait another and then it was three laps from the end and they were in the same lap times and we went until the end. But the tyres were as finished as in Canada but it was for everybody this time.” Alonso now takes the lead of the drivers’ championship with a comfortable 20-point cushion to second-place Mark Webber, thanks largely to Vettel and Hamilton’s failure to score points. ALONSO HAILS HOME VICTORY MOST EMOTIONAL RACE OF CAREERAFTER TWO-STOP TRIUMPH 23 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: F1 >>> EUROPE