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Fernando Alonso at the German F1 Grand Prix. (RALPH ORLOWSKI/REUTERS)
Fernando Alonso at the German F1 Grand Prix. (RALPH ORLOWSKI/REUTERS)

Motorsports

Motorsports round-up: Alonso seizes the day; McLaren crew breaks pitstop records Add to ...

Consistency has been one of the keys to Alonso’s success in 2012, with the Ferrari driver scoring points in every race this year. His closest rivals have all gone home empty-handed at least once in 2012. He has six podiums in 10 starts this year and a worst result of ninth.

The steady performance has kept Alonso in the mix and given him the opportunity to pounce when his rivals falter. For example, in last month’s European Grand Prix on the streets of Valencia, he pushed hard to keep touch with the two frontrunners and then capitalized when both retired and handed him an emotional win at home.

He also took an unlikely victory in the season’s second race when a downpour gave him the conditions to deliver a magical win in the Malaysian Grand Prix.

Not that he needs more incentive to push harder, but Alonso’s next victory will tie him with 1992 world champion Nigel Mansell in fourth overall in career F1 victories. Seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher is first with an incredible 91 victories, followed by Alain Prost at 51. Three-time world champion Ayrton Senna is third with 41.

Alonso’s first chance to equal Mansell comes in a week’s time in the Hungarian Grand Prix. When things get going on the tight and twisty Hungaroring Circuit, Alonso will be simply looking to deliver more of the same.

“In Hungary, we need to make a perfect preparation again, a perfect qualifying, because you can be starting in 12th or 13th if you make a little mistake,” he said.

“So, we need to approach the race in the same way we did the last couple of races, try to maximize what we have in Hungary and hopefully bring in some new parts that can help us in that circuit.”

Should Alonso continue to defy the odds and ultimately take his third championship despite driving in a lesser car for most of 2012, the rest of the F1 field might want to watch a different film: 1976 Oscar winner Rocky.

His rivals just might identify with one of the protagonist’s famous lines: “Who am I kiddin’? I ain’t even in the guy’s league.”

Don’t blink, you might miss something

Everything happens fast in Formula One, but Jenson Button’s pitcrew took that idea to a whole new level in the German Grand Prix. The 2009 world champion’s McLaren sat stationary for a measly 2.31 seconds in his final pitstop as his crew changed all four tires and sent him on his way.

It was the quickest pitstop in F1 history and most likely the fastest four-tire change ever.

The crew’s lightning speed also allowed Button to leapfrog rival Sebastian Vettel of Red Bull for second. Although Vettel got around the McLaren late in the race, the pass was ruled illegal and Button ended the day second.

Auf wiedersehen Michael?

With Michael Schumacher saying that he’ll decide over the summer whether to re-sign with Mercedes for another season, Sunday’s German Grand Prix may have been his final career F1 race at home.

The 2012 season has been a tough one for the seven-time champion, with retirements in half of his 10 starts so far. While things have improved in the past few races and Schumacher even scored his first pole since he returned from retirement in 2010, he is only 12th overall in the title standings. It is likely that he will again end the season being outscored by his younger teammate Nico Rosberg, who has 76 points to Schumacher’s 29 at the halfway point.

Happy birthday dear Lucas

A little more than 24 hours after Klaus Graf celebrated his 43rd birthday with a third consecutive pole position at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in Bowmanville, Ont., his teammate Lucas Luhr went one better, giving himself the 33rd birthday present of an overall win in Sunday’s American Le Mans Series (ALMS) Grand Prix of Mosport.

The pair of Muscle Milk Pickett Racing Le Mans Prototype 1 Class drivers used the pretense of their respective birthdays to take their fourth straight victory. Despite a late 20-second stop-and-go penalty for a pitlane violation, the Honda drivers finished 10.965 seconds ahead of the Dyson Racing’s Lola-Mazda driven by Chris Dyson and Guy Smith.

In LMP2, Conquest Endurance’s Martin Plowman and David Heinemeier-Hansson were victorious, while Scott Sharp and Johannes van Overbeek of Extreme Speed Motorsports eventually took the GT Class win, but only after Flying Lizard Motorsports was disqualified for failing post-race technical inspections.

For more from Jeff Pappone, go to facebook.com/jeffpappone (No login required!)

Twitter: @jpappone

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