Ferrari to build on Alonso’s 60th anniversary win

2011-07-11 09:26

Silverstone, England – A prerace demonstration drive in the first Ferrari to ever win a Formula 1 world championship race inspired Fernando Alonso to deliver the team’s first victory of the 2011 season, winning the British Grand Prix yesterday.

Only Red Bull and McLaren drivers had tasted success this season until Alonso’s assured drive at a slippery Silverstone gave Ferrari an overdue victory and hope of a resurgence in the second half of 2011.

“At last!” said Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo after Alonso crossed the line 16.5 seconds ahead of world championship leader Sebastian Vettel, who was forced into a rearguard action in the closing stages to hold off teammate Mark Webber, who finished third.

Before the race, the Spaniard had taken to the track for two demonstration laps in the Ferrari 375 that Jose Froilan Gonzalez raced in July 1951, winning the British Grand Prix.

While the Argentinian produced Ferrari’s first-ever championship victory, Alonso’s was number 216 for the Italian outfit.

Passion for racing

“To win the same race for Ferrari 60 years later is very special. In our team, there are children of people who worked for the Scuderia back then and they have the same love and passion for racing as there was back then,” the double world champion said.

“They are working in the factory, with the same mentality, with the same passion for racing that is in Ferrari’s DNA.”

A reminder of past glories could be just what Ferrari needs as it looks to build on its first race win since October in Korea.

“Hearing the Italian national anthem being played at Silverstone, the same venue at which we won our first ever Formula 1 race, was something I found particularly emotional,” Di Montezemolo said.

“This is Ferrari, a team that never stops fighting, never throws in the towel, at the top level for 60 years.”

After starting from third behind the Red Bulls, Alonso inherited the lad on lap 28 when Vettel’s mechanics fumbled over a tire change, delaying the German in the pits just when he appeared to be cruising to yet another win.

A 27th career victory took Alonso joint fifth with three-time world champion Jackie Stewart on the list of all-time winners.

He moved up to third in the standings, but still a distant 92 points behind Vettel, whose Red Bull team has a 164-point lead over Ferrari in the constructors’ championship.
Reaping the rewards

“We head for Germany with our morale up and with more self confidence,” Alonso said. “The Red Bull is the strongest car, but the improvements we are introducing are working.

“When we were struggling at the start of the season, we did not get downhearted, but instead we reacted: now we have reaped the rewards.”

Teammate Felipe Massa had a dramatic finish to the race, colliding with McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton on the final corner. Hamilton was slowing down, in fuel preservation mode, and Massa caught him on the last turn. The Brazilian appeared to have snatched fourth place, but the contact and consequent damage caused him to veer off the track on the short sprint to the line, and Hamilton edged him by two-hundredths of a second.

“We have made a step forward this weekend in terms of performance, both in qualify and the race,” Massa said.

“We have to continue to push on the development of the car: there are many races still ahead of us and having improved the car means we can feel more confident about he second half of the season.”

Ferrari has not won the drivers’ championship since Kimi Raikkonen’s victory in 2007.

Webber was warned by his team not to challenge Vettel in the closing stages, with Red Bull fearing a collision that would put both out of the race.

The Australian admitted he had ignored those orders, and team boss Christian Horner said after the race he would need to have a discussion with Webber about why.

McLaren’s Jenson Button saw his race end prematurely when mechanics failed to properly fit his right front tire in a pit stop, and he was forced to park at the pit exit as the wheel came loose.

Seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher finished ninth in an eventful race in which he had to undergo a stop-go penalty in the pits for crashing into the back of Sauber’s Kamui Kobayashi in an overtaking move that was too ambitious on the slippery track in the early part of the Grand Prix.

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