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Fuel saving costs Alonso points late on in Germany

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Fernando Alonso called Sunday’s Formula 1 race in Germany “one of the toughest so far this season” after late fuel saving cost him a top-10 finish at Hockenheim.

Alonso entered the German Grand Prix weekend hoping to repeat his seventh-place finish in Hungary last Sunday, but could only qualify 14th on Saturday.

The Spaniard battled his way into the top 10, running ninth in the closing stages before he was forced to save fuel to ensure he made it to the end of the race.

As a result, Alonso dropped behind McLaren teammate Jenson Button, Sergio Perez and Esteban Gutierrez in the final few laps to eventually finish 12th, marking his first non-score at Hockenheim since 2001.

“It was a very tough race, possibly one of the toughest so far this season, especially towards the end, when my tires were finished and I had to do a lot of fuel-saving,” Alonso said.

“We knew before we came here that it might be a tough weekend. Ultimately, I lost 10th position at the end of the race, so we didn’t score that last point that we were hoping for.

“But we just didn’t have the pace throughout the entire race.”

Button salvaged some points for McLaren in Germany, charging to eighth late on after overtaking the ailing Valtteri Bottas with one lap to go.

“I made a very good start and made up most of the places there,” Button said.

“After that, it was just about looking after the tires, which were degrading faster than we’d expected. We also had to do a fair amount of fuel-saving, too, particularly in the last 10 laps.

“In fact, I went off the circuit towards the end, just because I was doing so much fuel-saving that I hit the brakes and they were just stone cold. I hadn’t even been braking hard.

“At the end, I was able to pick off Valtteri, who was struggling on his tires. It feels satisfying to have beaten both Williams, but eighth was as good as it was going to get today.

“We were 20 seconds behind the car in front, and there’s still quite a bit to go before we catch those guys.”

The result saw McLaren close the gap to Toro Rosso in the constructors’ championship to just three points ahead of the summer break.

Formula 1 returns with the Belgian Grand Prix on August 28 at the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps.

March 29 in Motorsports History: Scott Dixon wins first race after reunification

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Reunited and it felt so good.

That’s what drivers likely thought before the 2008 IndyCar opener at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

For the first time since 1995, major-league open-wheel racing in the United States was under the banner of a sole sanctioning body as Champ Car and the Indy Racing Leauge had reunified just a month prior.

Scott Dixon celebrates after winning the 2008 IndyCar opener at Homestead. Photo: Jim Hines/IndyCar.

The first race after reunification also saw a reversal of fortunes for Scott Dixon, who won the race after losing the 2007 IRL championship in crushing fashion.

In the 2007 season finale at Chicagoland Speedway, Dixon ran out of fuel while leading on the final lap of the race. The race victory – and championship – went to Dixon’s future teammate, Dario Franchitti.

But the tides turned for Dixon nearly seven months later, and the Kiwi was able to win with the help of another driver’s misfortune.

Tony Kanaan was leading with seven laps remaining when E.J. Viso spun and made contact with Kanaan’s car. Kanaan remained on track through the caution period despite suffering obvious damage to his right front suspension.

On the final restart with three laps remaining, Dixon and others cars easily passed Kanaan’s wounded car on the outside. Dixon then maintained his lead through the checkered flag to win at Homestead for the second time in his career.

“I think Marco (Andretti) and T.K. probably had a little bit better cars today, but we came through with the win, and that’s what counts,” Dixon told ESPN after his 12th career victory.

Following his victory at Homestead, Dixon continued to redeem himself through the course of the 2008 season. In May, he won the Indianapolis 500 for the first (and so far only) time. Following Indy, he went on to win four more times in 2008 and won his second series championship.

Also on this date:

1998: Mika Hakkinen won the Grand Prix of Brazil, the first of eight victories in his first championship season.

2010: Will Power won the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, which was held on a Monday morning because of rain postponing the race on Sunday.

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