Alonso: Second place “a nice surprise” for Ferrari

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Fernando Alonso has claimed his second podium finish of the season in Hungary today following a sensational display of tire management and defensive driving.

The Spaniard started the race from fifth place on the grid, and led for large parts by virtue of his strategy. However, he was required to make his option tires last for far longer than feasibly possible, and ultimately had to yield to eventual winner Daniel Ricciardo in the final few laps of the race.

Nevertheless, he did manage to hold back Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton following the Briton’s charge from the pit lane to third place behind the Ferrari driver.

“I am extremely satisfied,” Alonso said on the podium after the race. “It has been a tough weekend and season in general, so it is a nice surprise.

“We took a gamble and a risk today, trying to get the victory. We went close but as I said I am extremely proud of the team and the job we did today. Very, very happy.”

Alonso has traditionally run well at the Hungaroring, claiming his maiden grand prix victory at the circuit back in 2003. With the poor pace of the F14 T making life more difficult in 2014, he said how races such as the one we saw today – featuring a rain shower and two safety car periods – are Ferrari’s only hope of securing big points.

“Today we had a combination of things that make the race difficult to execute and understand,” he explained. “We took the opportunities and [used] our experience, we need some crazy races to get some podiums this year and today we took the opportunity.”

With this result, Ferrari has moved back above Williams into third place in the constructors’ championship, as the British team could only bring its cars home in fifth and eighth place. Kimi Raikkonen kept quiet, but did finish the race in sixth place: his best result since re-joining the Italian marque at the beginning of the year.

MRTI: Keith Donegan earns Mazda Shootout Scholarship

Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography
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Dublin, Ireland’s Keith Donegan claimed a $200K scholarship from Mazda after emerging victorious at the second annual Mazda Road to Indy Shootout. The 20-year-old Donegan earned an at-large nomination for the scholarship based on his performance at this year’s Formula Ford Festival, in which he finished second in the final, and emerged from a pack of 17 drivers from across the globe to claim the scholarship.

“It really hasn’t hit me yet,” said an emotional Donegan, who earlier in his career actually spent two years away from racing as he focused on academics. “The weekend was really good and I enjoyed it. I have to say a huge thanks to Mazda and Cooper Tires and everyone at the Mazda Road to Indy. I enjoyed every moment. Throughout the weekend we were consistent and I kept the small things in check. I didn’t make any stupid mistakes and kept my head cool and that really paid off in the end.”

The two-day shootout was held at the Bondurant Racing School in Arizona and saw the nominated drivers tackle the school’s 1.6-mile circuit in Formula Mazda race cars before facing on and off-track assessments. Donegan was selected by a panel of judges that included former driver and current Verizon IndyCar Series TV analyst Scott Goodyear, Mazda drivers Tom Long, Andrew Carbonell, and Jonathan Bomarito, as well as Victor Franzoni – the current champion of the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires – and Oliver Askew, the current champion of the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda.

Donegan was humbled to be in the presence of drivers who have won scholarships and championships previously, and added that he is grateful to have the opportunity to continue his racing career.

“You see all these champions here today that will go on to great things in the future and I’m sure the names you see here today aren’t going to disappear,” Donegan added. “They will be back up there and I’m sure I will be racing them again some day. It is an unbelievable opportunity to be given and for Mazda to provide that for any young driver. It just gives that bit of motivation that you need because the [U.S.] is where you need to go to become a professional these days. It is such a boost to my career.”

Donegan is now slated to join the 2018 USF2000 championship, with further announcements regarding the team with whom he’ll be racing to come in the future.

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