- Bahrain - Formula One
Alonso claims season's first championship in Bahrain
Spaniard Fernando Alonso won the Bahrain Grand Prix in Manama on Sunday, giving Ferrari an emphatic victory at the season's opening, as his teammate, Brazilian Felipe Massa, crossed the finish line in second place.
AFP - Two-times champion Spaniard Fernando Alonso dedicated his debut triumph with Ferrari on Sunday to the Italian nation, the team's workforce and president Luca di Montezemolo.
After leading Brazilian Felipe Massa home in an emphatic one-two for Ferrari that wiped away memories of their desultory opening spell in 2009, Alonso said it was a very "special day for me."
The 28-year-old former Renault star said: "For anyone to come to Ferrari, a team with so much history, it is a special thing to win and to be first and second is fantastic for everyone in the team.
"They gave me this fantastic car and that is why I dedicate this result to all the people in Italy, the guys here and to the President Montezemolo."
Alonso's delight was shared by Massa, who bounced back in triumphant style in his first race since suffering serious head and eye injuries after a horror accident in Hungary last August.
"For me to be back here, it is just fantastic and I thank God for this," said Massa.
"Thanks to Him, I am fine, I am here and I can thank all the people who sent me their good wishes when I was at home recovering."
In a keenly-anticipated race featuring four champions, three new teams, five rookie drivers and new rules that banned mid-race refuelling, the Ferrari duo outshone returning 41-year-old 'red baron' Michael Schumacher who was left among the chasing pack and finished sixth.
It was his first Formula One race after three years in retirement, having won a record seven drivers world titles, and he was beaten by his Mercedes team-mate and fellow-German Nico Rosberg, who came home fifth.
"That was as good as it could have been for me," said Schumacher afterwards. "But I enjoyed it."
Briton Lewis Hamilton, the 2008 champion, was third for McLaren, but his new team-mate, defending champion and compatriot Jenson Button battled to take seventh.
"I have to congratulate first the two Ferrari guys for such a great job," he said.
"And I thought I had quite a good race! Actually, it is better than I think we expected - a strong result for me and the team and I am quite happy."
Alonso, who won the title twice with his former team Renault, delivered the 22nd win of his career - and his third in Bahrain -- with a brilliantly-judged performance by preserving both his tyres and his engine on a sizzling hot day at the Sakhir circuit.
Driving with meticulous care, Alonso took full advantage of bad luck that hit German Sebastian Vettel when his Red Bull car suffered an exhaust failure and lost power dramatically after leading for the first 34 laps of the 49-laps contest.
"It is a real pity, but what can you do? We were fast and had the race under control until then."
Vettel, starting from his sixth pole, had led easily, but fell away and finished fourth.
His Red Bull team-mate Australian Mark Webber came home eighth ahead of Italian Vitantonio Liuzzi for Force India and 10th placed final points-scorer Brazilian veteran Rubens Barrichello in a Williams.
For Ferrari, it was an emotional way to start the 60th anniversary season for the world championship - last year they were in disarray in the opening races. For Alonso, it was a first win since he triumphed in Japan in 2008 for Renault.
And for the rookie teams, led by Lotus, it was a day to remember, too, as they joined in the first race without refuelling since 1993 - with both Lotus cars finishing the demanding race in high temperatures.