Formula One

                === Alonso takes winning momentum to Hungary ===
 Philadelphia,  PA  (Sports Network)  -  Fernando  Alonso  has emerged  as  the
 favorite  to win  this year's Formula One world championship after winning his
 third grand prix of the season last Sunday in Hockenheim, Germany.
 Alonso had a superb performance in the German Grand Prix, starting on the pole
 and  relinquishing the lead  just briefly when he pitted for the first time in
 the  67-lap  event. The Ferrari  driver fought  off challenges from Red Bull's
 Sebastian  Vettel and McLaren's Jenson Button in the closing laps to claim his
 30th career F1 win.
 Vettel  crossed the finish line in second but was later demoted to fifth place
 when  race  stewards penalized him  with 20 seconds  on his finishing time for
 illegally  passing  Button at the exit  of the hairpin on the penultimate lap.
 Button was elevated from third place to second.
 With  the win,  Alonso  padded his  lead in  the  championship standings.  The
 Spaniard  has now accumulated 154 points for the season, which is 34 more than
 his  closest competitor,  Mark  Webber  from Red  Bull.  Vettel, the  two-time
 defending F1 titleholder, is 44 points behind.
 Alonso won back-to-back championships from 2005-06, driving for Renault at the
 F1  travels to Budapest this week for the Hungarian Grand Prix before taking a
 month-long summer break in August. The schedule will resume with the September
 2 Belgian Grand Prix.
 Alonso  is hoping to win his 31st F1 grand prix on Sunday, which ironically is
 the day he celebrates his 31st birthday.
 "In  Hungary,  we need  to make  a perfect  preparation and qualifying again,"
 Alonso  said. "You  can be  starting in  12th  or 13th  if you  make a  little
 mistake,  so  we need  to approach the  race in  the same way  we did the last
 couple  of races. We'll  try to maximize what we have in Hungary and hopefully
 bring in some new parts that can help us in that circuit."
 Alonso  won the  March 25 Malaysian Grand  Prix and the June 24 European Grand
 Prix  before  Germany. Prior to  the start of the  season, it looked as though
 Alonso  would be  a long  shot for  the title  since Ferrari  endured numerous
 performance  and  reliability issues with  its cars during pre-season testing.
 Ferrari has apparently figured out those problems.
 "I  think at the  moment the car seems okay in all areas," Alonso said. "There
 are  not any  weak points, as maybe we  had at the beginning of the season. We
 were  suffering a  little bit on traction  and top speed. Now, I think that we
 are okay on that. In Hungary, I think with these slow speed corners, traction,
 etc.,  I  don't see  any problem  with the  car, and  we should be competitive
 Alonso's first F1 win came in the 2003 Hungarian GP. He finished third in this
 event last year.
 Button is the defending race winner. His victory there came in his 200th grand
 prix start.
 "Hungary  is a very  special place for me," Button said. "I won my first grand
 prix  there back  in 2006.  I  celebrated my  200th  grand prix  there on  the
 Saturday  evening (last year) with some of my oldest friends and colleagues in
 the paddock, and I went on to win the Grand Prix on Sunday. It was the perfect
 Series: Formula One. Date: Sunday, July 29. Race: Hungarian Grand Prix. Site:
 Hungaroring. Track: 2.722-mile (4.381-kilometer), 14-turn road course. Start
 Time: 8 a.m. (et). Laps: 70. Miles: 190.540 (306.630 km). 2011 Winner: Jenson
 Button. Television: Speed.
 07/26 01:07:58 ET

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