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Alonso wins wet Sepang sizzler

2012-03-25 12:48

FERRARI IS BACK: Fernando Alonso under attack from Sauber's Sergio Perez on the last laps of the 2012 Sepang F1 GP. Image gallery.



Ferrari's Fernando Alonso claimed his first victory in eight months in thrilling style at the rain-interrupted Malaysian Formula 1 Grand Prix on Sunday.

Alonso survived a lengthy rain suspension, a rash of spins and mishaps and a strong challenge from Sauber's Sergio Perez to finish ahead of the Mexican driver, with McLaren's Lewis Hamilton third.

Spain's Alonso, a two-time world champion, was no one's pre-race favourite in the clunky F2012, but he emerged from the chaos caused by torrential rains at the head of the pack and doggedly clung on for victory.

Perez pushed hard for his first win and looked set to steal victory from Alonso until he overshot a turn on lap 50. However, he still managed his maiden trip to the podium.


Red Bull's Mark Webber was fourth with former world champion Kimi Raikkonen fifth for Lotus. German great Michael Schumacher, who started third on the grid, spun early in the race but finished 10th.

But there were no points for McLaren's Jenson Button, who won last week's season-opener, after he collided with India's Narain Karthikeyan and dropped to the back of the pack, finally coming in 14th.

Red Bull's reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel also endured a torrid day, including a spectacular rear tyre blow-out, as he finished 11th.

After days of mostly dry weather, black clouds rolled over Sepang and the rain fell, right on cue, as the Malaysian anthem was played.


Pole-sitter Hamilton, who was passed by Button at the front of the grid in Australia last week, survived a furious challenge from his team-mate at the start and he emerged from the first corner with his lead intact.

But as the cars kicked up plumes of spray, it was only a matter of time before they started spinning and the first casualty was wet-weather maestro Schumacher, who dropped down the field.

The rain immediately turned torrential and Ferrari's Felipe Massa was the first in for wet-weather tyres, followed immediately by the other drivers in a chaotic few minutes in the pit lane.

Lotus's young Frenchman Romain Grosjean spun into the gravel and out of the race, Mercedes' Nico Rosberg went off-course and Button radioed that the last sector was "like a lake" before the safety car came out on lap seven.

And as the rain came down in buckets, the race was suspended shortly afterwards, evoking memories of Button's storm-shortened victory in 2009.


But less than an hour later they were back out and once the safety car withdrew for lap 14, it was the signal for some frenzied action as drivers dived into the pits for intermediate tyres on the drying track.

Button smashed his front wing in a collision with HRT's Karthikeyan and needed his third pit stop, pushing him way down to 21st. On lap 18 Alonso led followed by Perez, Hamilton, Rosberg, Vettel and Raikkonen, although Vettel and Raikkonen both nipped past Rosberg on laps 23 and 24 to leave the German world champion behind Hamilton in third spot.

Alonso was driving his unloved Ferrari to the limit, but his big lead was whittled down to just a couple of seconds by Perez before both joined the rush to pit for slick tyres around lap 40.

When they resumed Alonso was seven seconds in front but Perez was soon back on the Spaniard's tail, setting up a gripping dogfight in the closing laps - distracted only by a nasty puncture for Vettel, who slipped back.

But when Perez went off-course with six laps to go, Alonso was able to claim his first win since the 2011 British Grand Prix - and conclude a remarkable weekend for the Ferrari camp.

Results from the Malaysian Formula 1 Grand Prix on Sunday:

1 Fernando Alonso (Spain) Ferrari 2 hours 44 minutes 51.812 seconds
2 Sergio Perez (Mexico) Sauber +2.263
3 Lewis Hamilton (Britain) McLaren +14.591
4 Mark Webber (Australia) Red Bull +17.688
5 Kimi Raikkonen (Finland) Lotus-Renault +29.456
6 Bruno Senna (Brazil) Williams-Renault +37.667
7 Paul di Resta (Britain) Force India +44.412
8 Jean-Eric Vergne (France) Toro Rosso +46.985
9 Nico Hulkenberg (Germany) Force India +47.892
10 Michael Schumacher (Germany) Mercedes +49.996
11 Sebastian Vettel (Germany) Red Bull +1min15.527
12 Daniel Ricciardo (Australia) Toro Rosso +1min16.828
13 Nico Rosberg (Germany) Mercedes +1min18.593
14 Jenson Button (Britain) McLaren +1min19.719
15 Felipe Massa (Brazil) Ferrari +1min37.319
16 Vitaly Petrov (Russia) Caterham F1 +1 lap
17 Timo Glock (Germany) Marussia-Cosworth +1 lap
18 Heikki Kovalainen (Finland) Caterham F1 +1 lap
19 Charles Pic (France) Marussia-Cosworth +2 laps
20 Narain Karthikeyan (India) HRT-Cosworth +2 laps
21 Pedro de la Rosa (Spain) HRT-Cosworth +2 laps
22 Pastor Maldonado (Venezuela) Williams-Renault +2 laps

Drivers’ and Constructors’ points after the 2012 Malaysian F1 GP
at the Sepang International Circuit
1 Fernando Alonso (Spain) Ferrari - 35
2 Lewis Hamilton (Britain) McLaren - 30
3 Jenson Button (Britain) McLaren - 25
4 Mark Webber (Australia) Red Bull - 24
5 Sergio Perez (Mexico) Sauber - 22
6 Sebastian Vettel (Germany) Red Bull - 18
7 Kimi Raikkonen (Finland) Renault - 16
8 Bruno Senna (Brazil) Williams - 8
9 Kamui Kobayashi (Japan) Sauber 8
10 Paul Di Resta (Britain) Force India - 7
11 Jean-Eric Vergne (France) Toro Rosso - 4
12 Daniel Ricciardo (Australia) Toro Rosso - 2
13 Nico Huelkenberg (Germany) Force India 2
14 Michael Schumacher (Germany) Mercedes - 1
15 Nico Rosberg (Germany) Mercedes - 0
16 Pastor Maldonado (Venezuela) Williams - 0
17 Timo Glock (Germany) Marussia - 0
18 Charles Pic (France) Marussia - 0
19 Felipe Massa (Brazil) Ferrari - 0
20 Vitaly Petrov (Russia) Team Lotus - 0
21 Heikki Kovalainen (Finland) Team Lotus - 0
22 Narain Karthikeyan (India) HRT - 0
23 Pedro de la Rosa (Spain) HRT - 0    
1 McLaren - 55
2 Red Bull - 42
3 Ferrari - 35
4 Sauber - 30
5 Lotus - 16
6 Force India - 9
7 Williams - 8
8 Toro Rosso - 6
9 Mercedes - 1
10. Marussia - 0
11 HRT - 0
12 Caterham - 0

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