Unstoppable Alonso takes emotional Valencia victory

Fernando Alonso has taken the victory in a dramatic European Grand Prix.

Despite starting 11th, the Ferrari driver blitzed his way up the field, and took full advantage of Sebastian Vettel’s woes to dominate to the flag. The Lotuses were in contention all race long, but Romain Grosjean retired with a mechanical issue, although Kimi Raikkonen inherited 2nd after a safety car period.

Michael Schumacher took his first podium since his F1 return, while Mark Webber sliced up the field from 19th to 4th. Lewis Hamilton was set for a podium finish, but clashed with Pastor Maldonado with only 2 laps to go. Here is what happened:

Vettel pulls out an unassailable lead

Vettel pulls out an unassailable lead

At the start, Vettel held his lead comfortably, while Kamui Kobayashi and Romain Grosjean made good progress. The Ferraris made good progress from the midfield, with both Massa and Alonso moving into the top 10.

While Grosjean harassed Hamilton for 2nd place, Vettel began to pull out an astonishing lead, at over 2 seconds per lap. Jenson Button lost 3 places at the start, but passed Michael Schumacher on lap 3 for 12th place.

It quickly became clear that the Mercedes drivers were struggling to keep their tyres cool. Both Rosberg and Schumacher began to slide down the order.

Grosjean pushes his way past Hamilton

Grosjean pushes his way past Hamilton

By lap 10, Grosjean had had enough of staring at the McLaren’s diffuser. He pulled an incredible move on Lewis at turns 12 and 13, to take 2nd place.

Both the leader and Romain pitted on lap 17, the gap having been extended to over 15 seconds. Further back, Schumacher decided to stay out, and formed an enormous queue of cars behind him – at one point, there were 9 cars all battling for position.

This type of action was always going to end in tears. Kamui Kobayashi attempted to squeeze past Bruno Senna, but tipped the Williams into a spin. Senna suffered a puncture and broken front wing, while Kobayashi sustained minor damage. The stewards decided that Bruno was to blame for turning in on the Sauber, and handed him a drive-through penalty.

Ricciardo and Kovalainen clash, sending out the safety car

Ricciardo and Kovalainen clash, sending out the safety car

Vettel’s lead had extended to over 20 seconds, when the first of several incidents unravelled his race. A clash between Heikki Kovalainen and Daniel Ricciardo brought out the safety car, and reduced the Red Bull’s lead to dust.

On the restart, an unknown car failure caused Sebastian to coast to a halt, throwing away what was an almost certain victory.

This left Grosjean in the lead, albeit briefly. Fernando made a sensational move on the Lotus into turn 1, and inherited the lead after the Red Bull’s retirement.

Senna is tipped into a high-speed spin by Kobayashi

Senna is tipped into a high-speed spin by Kobayashi

To make matters worse, Romain was next to fall prey to mechanical issues, suffering a driveshaft failure.

Amidst all the drama, Vitaly Petrov had made progress up to 10th place in the Caterham. However, he was quickly swamped by Schumacher and Webber, and later clashed with the Toro Rosso of Ricciardo. He slipped to 13th, ahead of his teammate.

Maldonado harpoons Hamilton with 2 laps to go

Maldonado harpoons Hamilton with 2 laps to go

As the race entered its final few laps, Kimi Raikkonen closed right up behind Lewis Hamilton. The McLaren’s tyres were swiftly falling apart, and an extremely slow pit stop during the safety car period had ruined his chances of the race win. With this, Kimi pushed his way past, and moved into 2nd place.

With his tyres fading fast, Hamilton was now a prime target for Pastor Maldonado. He took to the run-off area to make a move, but smashed into the side of Lewis’ car with only 2 laps to go. Hamilton was out on the spot, and was absolutely furious. Maldonado continued on with no front wing, but slipped to 10th position.

But, the drama still wasn’t over. Only a few laps after passing Petrov for 10th, Michael Schumacher had sliced 10 seconds out of the leaders’ gap, and blasted his way into 3rd place. Mark Webber had recovered brilliantly from his 19th grid spot to take 4th position.

It was probably the most emotional win ever for Alonso

It was probably the most emotional win ever for Alonso

Despite this, there was no stopping Fernando Alonso. After crossing the line, he pulled over in one of the most emotional and memorable celebrations in recent history. He stopped on track, celebrated with the fans and stewards, and laid a Spanish flag across the track.

He delayed the podium celebrations considerably, but nobody was complaining. With this win, Alonso has now streaked into the lead of the driver’s championship, and has considerable momentum going into the British Grand Prix in two weeks time.

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