Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large
Fernando Alonso, the Ferrari driver, celebrates winning the opening race of the season at the Bahrain Grand Prix yesterday.
Fernando Alonso, the Ferrari driver, celebrates winning the opening race of the season at the Bahrain Grand Prix yesterday.

Alonso is back on top with Ferrari

The Spaniard takes advantage of mechanical problems for Red Bull-Renault's Sebastian Vettel to claim the 22nd victory of his career.

SAKHIR // Fernando Alonso said he is taking nothing granted in his quest for a third world title despite starting the new Formula One season in winning fashion in the Bahrain Grand Prix yesterday. The Spaniard took advantage of mechanical problems for Red Bull-Renault's Sebastian Vettel to take the lead on the 34th lap in his Ferrari to claim the 22nd victory of his career ahead of his teammate Felipe Massa.

But despite the winning start to the campaign he said neither he nor the team he joined in the winter from Renault would be taking anything for granted as he looks to add to his title wins in 2005 and 2006. "We did nothing, only won the first Grand Prix, but it is a good start," he said. "I'm very optimistic for the rest of the season." Lewis Hamilton was a distant third in his McLaren-Mercedes ahead of Vettel and Nico Rosberg's Mercedes GP car, but the day belonged to the jubilant Alonso as he made a fantastic start to competitive life with the Italian team.

"It's a special day for me," the double world champion said. "Coming back to the top of the podium is always special and it's even more special with Ferrari, with all the history behind the team and the expectations a driver has driving for Ferrari. "There is no better way to start the relationship. I am in the best team in the world." While Vettel never opened up more than a four-second advantage after converting his pole position grid spot into the lead at the start, other than at the pit-stops, neither of the Ferraris were able to close on the Red Bull and put pressure on him.

But the German began to lose engine power due to a cracked exhaust, and both Ferraris, and then Hamilton's McLaren, quickly overtook the stricken German's car. Massa finished on the podium in his first race since the crash in qualifying in Hungary last year that left him with a fractured skull, but said he was disappointed not to have been able to push Alonso due to engine problems. "I started to have temperature problems and we were worried about the fuel consumption, so I started to save fuel and there was nothing to do any more," he said.

Further back it was a low-key return for seven-times world champion Michael Schumacher as he finished sixth in his Mercedes after three years away from the sport. He finished one spot ahead of world champion Jenson Button's McLaren. It was a disappointing day for the new teams in the sport. Both Lotus-Cosworth drivers finished, with Heikki Kovalainen leading them home in 15th, but a lap down. No Hispania or Virgin-Cosworth cars got beyond half-distance due to reliability issues, and both look likely to have a difficult time in the sport.

The next round of the championship is in Australia on March 28. sports@thenational.ae

Back to the top

More articles


Editor's Picks

 Real Madrid players Angel Di Maria, left, Pepe, Cristiano Ronaldo, Luka Modric and Marcelo attend a training session at Real Madrid’s Valdebebas training grounds outside Madrid on April 22, 2014. Real Madrid will play Bayern Munich in a Uefa Champions League semi-final, first leg match in Madrid on Wednesday. REUTERS/Andrea Comas

In pictures: Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale train with Real Madrid

A well-rested Real Madrid side trains on Tuesday ahead of their Uefa Champions League semi-final, first leg match against Bayern Munich on Wednesday night. Stadnouts Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale are both expected to be in action at the Bernabeu.

 Chelsea players argue with Atletico Madrid during their scoreless draw in the Champions League semi-final first leg match at the Vicente Calderon Stadium in Madrid, Spain on Tuesday. Gerard Julien / AFP / April 22, 2014

In pictures: Chelsea lock horns with Atletico in scoreless Champions League draw

Chelsea held Atletico Madrid scoreless at home on Tuesday as the two will head to Stamford Bridge for a winner-take-all second leg.

 Walter Zenga wants his Al Jazira side to continue building on the recent positive results they have had in Asian Champions League, even though they have already qualified for the knockout stage. Karim Jaafar / AFP

Walter Zenga aims for Al Jazira to carry momentum in Asian Champions League

The Al Jazira coach Walter Zenga is set to field his strongest line-up as the UAE club seek to topple Saudi Arabia’s Al Shabab as leaders of Group A.

 Sourav Ganguly, left, and Sanjiv Goenka, vice-chairman of RPG Enterprises, pose with footballs during a press conference to announce their ownership of the Kolkata franchise in the upcoming Indian Super League on April 14, 2014. Dibyangshu Sarkar / AFP

Indian Super League high on ambition, short-seeming on the football

While a number of high-profile figures are throwing in with the Indian Super League hoping to make a splash in world football, many local voices are arguing the foundation for the tournament is shaky.

 Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo, left, and Gareth Bale share a laugh during training on Tuesday. Both players will be fit for Wednesday night’s Uefa Champions League semi-final, first leg against Bayern Munich at the Bernabeu. Chema Moya / EPA

Rested Real Madrid side hope to catch Bayern Munich on a slide

Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale will be fit for Real Madrid in Uefa Champions League semi-final, first leg match while the holders are trying to recover from a Bundesliga slump.

 Toni Kroos of Bayern Munich will lead his team against Real Madrid in a Uefa Champions League semi-final, first leg match on Wednesday night. Alexander Hassenstein / Getty Images

Toni Kroos is a wanted man at Bayern Munich

Kroos’s talks with Bayern over renewing a contract have stalled while Manchester United, and Wednesday night’s opponents, Real Madrid, are among those keen to offer him an alternative place of work, writes Ian Hawkey.

Events

To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National