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Alonso shines in Valencia

Ferrari star takes well-fought second place at European GP

The advantage of a home crowd is said to give a Formula 1 driver an extra few tenths-of-a-second per lap. Driving in front of an adoring public in Valencia certainly helped Fernando Alonso out at Sunday's European Grand Prix, the Ferrari star storming to second place despite the obvious superiority of the Red Bulls.

Alonso, who had lined up fourth on the grid, got an excellent start, despite momentarily losing position to teammate Felipe Massa. He held on to the outside line in the second corner and managed to slip ahead of the Brazilian to tuck in behind the Red Bulls of Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber.

The first pit stops, around lap 14, saw the Spaniard fall down the field slightly, but by lap 21 he was hot on the exhaust of Red Bull's Mark Webber, and managed to pass him for second place, much to the delight of his Spanish fans.

The second round of pit stops, however, saw Alonso and Webber swap positions once more, the Australian having managed to undercut him by staying out one lap longer.

But when Webber pitted before the Spaniard, on lap 43, Alonso gritted his teeth and found those extra tenths, getting the jump on the Red Bull at his next stop.

Webber's teammate Sebastian Vettel, meanwhile, was untouchable out in front, eventually notching up his sixth win of the season. The German is now 77 points ahead of his closest rival, Jenson Button, with 11 races left to run.

After the race, Alonso said that splitting the Red Bulls was "a great achievement." He went on to say: "We are definitely moving in the right direction and will get closer to them at the next races."