Motor Racing: Alonso's back on track for title drive; FORMULA ONE: THE SPANISH GRAND PRIX FROM BARCELONA.
FERNANDO ALONSO's fast lane journey to motor racing immortality continued yesterday with an emotional victory in the Spanish Grand Prix.
Twenty one years after he first held a steering wheel, he became the first Spaniard in the sport's 56-year history to win his home race.
After dashing off a couple of demonstration laps for the King of Spain, he dished out a royal command performance to thrash title rival Michael Schumacher.
In the process the 24-year-old put the brakes on the German's title charge which was threatening to gather as much speed as his Ferrari has shown in recent weeks.
After successive Ferrari wins at Imola and Germany the Renault driver finally turned the tide. He charged from pole to his third win in six races in front of his adoring fans.
Five years ago they couldn't give away Formula One tickets here. Now 130,000 fans trade sunshine and the beach on a glorious spring afternoon to cheer on one of their own against the red menace.
But menace was all Schumacher could manage. On a day when a pounds 400million deal was signed to end the threat of a breakaway series, Schumi had enough speed to carry him from third past Giancarlo Fisichella's Renault in the first round of pit stops.
But there was no touching the boy from Oviedo. Schumacher roared from his second stop hoping to take the lead just as he had done seven days before but this time Alonso was long gone - 12 seconds down the road.
"I will never forget a day like today," said the Spaniard.
"To win in front of my people, my supporters is fantastic. This means more to me than the result in Brazil last year when I won the world championship."
He clawed back the ground he lost at the last race to stretch his lead in the championship to 15 points with the season a third done.
Schumacher and Ferrari could only wonder at how a strategy that worked the week before failed today.
"We know we could have been on pole with less fuel so we are not sure why we didn't win this time. We were not quick enough," said Schumacher.
Felipe Massa was fourth, with Kimi Raikkonen fifth and Britain's Jenson Button in sixth.
THREE CHEERS: Alonso, Schumacher and Fisichella
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|Publication:||The Mirror (London, England)|
|Date:||May 15, 2006|
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