Alonso taking points lead into British GP
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Fernando Alonso has a third Formula One world championship in mind right now.
Alonso, the 2005 and '06 world champion, became the first repeat winner in F1 this season with a come-from-behind victory last month in the European Grand Prix in Valencia Spain. The Ferrari driver started way back in 11th, but to the delight of his home crowd on hand, he grabbed the lead from Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel just past the halfway point and took control from there in the 57-lap race. Vettel, who had won the European GP the past two years, stalled on the track due to a mechanical issue and was forced to retire.
Alonso claimed his 29th career F1 win, but this victory was perhaps his most memorable one.
"I think from the emotional side this is the best one," he said. "The emotions that I felt on the in-lap or during the podium ceremony, I think it doesn't compare to anything before."
His first victory this year came in the March 25 Malaysian Grand Prix. The season had featured a record seven different winners in as many races.
After winning the European GP, Alonso moved atop the championship standings. He has accumulated 111 points so far, which is 20 points more than his closest competitor, Mark Webber from Red Bull. Lewis Hamilton came to Valencia first in the rankings but the McLaren driver fell 23 markers out of the lead after finishing 19th. Vettel dropped to 26 behind following his 21st-place result.
This weekend's British Grand Prix in Silverstone, England will be round nine on the 2012 calendar. Alonso is the defending winner of this event. The British GP is the oldest race on the F1 schedule, but there has not been a back-to-back winner in it since David Coulthard did it in 1999 and 2000.
Silverstone Circuit, located in Northamptonshire and Buckinghamshire, England, has been considered as the fastest circuit on the F1 schedule since the mid-1980s, due to its high-speed corners.
"It's a great place to race," said Lotus driver and 2007 British GP winner Kimi Raikkonen. "When I first raced there it was my real favorite. It's so fast and demanding, which makes it very challenging. The corners really flow, and it's all about long, sweeping high-speed corners and high downforce levels. Somehow, it has been a good circuit for me since the very beginning. It will be interesting to see how the new section changes a lap, but I'm sure I'll learn it very quickly."
The British GP is a homecoming event of sorts for many F1 teams. Eight of the 12 teams -- Red Bull, McLaren, Lotus, Mercedes, Williams, Force India, Caterham and Marussia -- are all based in the United Kingdom.
"Racing in Silverstone is a special moment every year," Mercedes driver and three-time British GP winner Michael Schumacher said. "It's quite simply the home of motorsports, and I'm always amazed by the knowledge and enthusiasm of the British fans. As a racing driver, it's great to experience this passion for our sport."
Schumacher's third-place finish in the European GP marked his first podium appearance since coming out of retirement in 2010. Schumacher, the record seven-time F1 champion, took a three-year break from the sport following the '06 season.
"We want to take the momentum from our result in Valencia and put on a good show in Silverstone, especially because this is one of our home races," he added. "It goes without saying that we want to give everybody in Brackley and Brixworth (England) a result to be proud of this weekend."
Series: Formula One. Date: Sunday, July 8. Race: British Grand Prix. Site: Silverstone Circuit. Track: 3.667-mile (5.891-kilometer), 18-turn road course. Start Time: 8 a.m. (et). Laps: 52. Miles: 190.676 (306.747 km). 2011 Winner: Fernando Alonso. Television: FOX (tape delay - noon ET).
07/04 17:44:34 ET