European GP: Fernando Alonso savours emotional victory

Spain's Fernando Alonso said his European Grand Prix win on Sunday was the most emotional of his career.

The Ferrari driver fought from 11th on the grid to win in Valencia on the same weekend the Spanish football team made it to the semi-finals of Euro 2012.

"The emotions are unique because for Spain it is a difficult time with economic problems," he said.

"People made sacrifices to come here, and yesterday we felt sad because we did not give them what they wanted."

The win was the 29th of the 30-year-old's F1 career and it moved him into the championship lead, 20 points ahead of Red Bull's Mark Webber.

The two drivers Alonso considers his biggest rivals - McLaren's Lewis Hamilton and Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel - both retired from the race.

Vettel had an alternator failure while leading and Hamilton was taken out in a collision with Williams's Pastor Maldonado.

ANALYSIS

"One of the things that makes Alonso so good is that if he gets an opportunity to win, he will take it. That is exactly what happened in Valencia."

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But Alonso said re-taking the championship lead meant little with more than half the season still to go.

"I'm very happy," he said. "But it's the eighth race of 20, (so there is) nothing to be proud or excited about.

"We need to be honest with ourselves and our fans - yesterday we were out of Q3 and there were some people quicker than us but this win will have a big impact on the confidence of the people in Maranello (Ferrari's base).

"It's true that we believe and we will never give up, we will have confidence in ourselves and we will arrive with optimism at every grand prix we go to.

"But at the same time, apart from winning today or finishing sixth today, we know that we are not in the position that we want to be and there are a few cars quicker than us and we cannot be blind to that. We need to work."

Alonso inherited the lead when Vettel retired on lap 34, and had been promoted to third place from fourth behind the safety car following the latest in a series of pit-stop problems for Hamilton this year.

But he won most of the other positions thanks to some audacious overtaking moves, relentlessly quick pace and a typically fast first pit stop from Ferrari.

His final passing move was the one that put him in a position to take the lead when Vettel retired - Alonso passed Lotus's Romain Grosjean for second place around the outside of the first corner following the resumption of racing after a safety-car period.

"On the emotional side, I think this is the best victory, the emotions I felt on the podium there is nothing to compare," Alonso said.

"On the driving side maybe we had better wins. We had some good overtaking manoeuvres with some guys but, with some retirements etc, we found the win in an easier way.

"Before the race we were thinking at the best to be fifth or sixth and score as many points as possible and not to lose too many points with the winners.

"I need to watch the race on TV because I don't know how we were third behind the safety car - how we recovered so many positions - and then I need to look at the moment with Grosjean and then exactly what happened with Sebastian and Hamilton."

He added: "You need to have the pace to overtake people. There were some overtaking manoeuvres we were lucky (with) because they were quite aggressive and we touched a bit and they can go either way.

"We [took] risks, we were aggressive, we had the pace and we were lucky."