Alonso celebrates victory in home Spanish Grand Prix
By Volker Gundrum May 14, 2006, 16:09 GMT
Spanish Formula One driver Fernando Alonso of Renault F1 team celebrates on the podium after he won the Grand Prix of Spain at the F1 race track Circuit de Catalunya in Montmelo near Barcelona, Spain, Sunday 14 May 2006. EPA/KERIM OKTEN
Barcelona, Spain - Defending world champion Fernando Alonso won a largely uneventful Spanish Grand Prix Sunday, easily holding off the challenge of Ferrari's Michael Schumacher to register his third win of the season and 11th of his career.
Alonso sent the partisan home crowd wild as he completed the 66 laps of 4.627 kilometres for 305.256 kilometres in a time of 1 hour 26 minutes 21.759 seconds (average speed 212.074kmh) to move onto 54 points in the drivers' standings after six of 18 races.
The result, which was his first victory in front of his home fans, sees the 23-year-old Spaniard extend his lead over second-placed Schumacher to 15 points.
Renault's Giancarlo Fisichella who started from second on the grid came in third followed by Felipe Massa in the second Ferrari with Kimi Raikkonen fifth in a McLaren-Mercedes.
Honda's Jenson Button clinched sixth place ahead of team-mate Rubens Barrichello while Nick Heidfeld completed the points placings by taking eighth position in a BMW-Sauber.
The two Renaults made a perfect start off the grid with Alonso easily holding off team-mate Fisichella going into the first corner.
Raikkonen made the best start of all, however, moving up to fifth place at the end of lap one after starting from down in ninth.
But it was Alonso who set the pace at the front, pulling away from Fisichella before pitting on lap 17 and returning in fourth position. Fisichella pitted a lap later to hand the lead over to seven-time world champion Schumacher, winner of the last two grand prix races of the season.
Juan Pablo Montoya's miserable race weekend continued as the Colombian, who only qualified in 12th in his McLaren, spun out of the race after just 19 laps.
Ferrari's Schumacher pitted for the first time on the 23rd lap while leading and crucially returned just ahead of Fisichella to take second behind Alonso.
Toyota's Ralf Schumacher, who lost part of a nose cone attempting to overtake team-mate Jarno Trulli on lap 16, retired to the garage in the 33rd lap while seven laps later Alonso pitted for the second time returning behind Fisichella.
The Italian was next to pit while Schumacher came in with 20 laps remaining, returning behind Alonso, who eased his way home to claim his first GP win at the Catalunya circuit after second-place finishes in 2003 and 2005.© 2006 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur