Formula One News
Alonso delights Ferrari by winning rain-marred Malaysian GP
By Jens Marx Mar 25, 2012, 11:21 GMT
Sepang, Malaysia - Fernando Alonso restored Ferrari pride on Sunday when he came from behind to win the Malaysian Grand Prix which was halted for almost an hour because of heavy rain in the early stages.
The two-times former world champion Alonso won from eighth place on the grid ahead of Mexican Sauber driver Sergio Perez and pole-sitter Lewis Hamilton of McLaren, who was third as a week ago in Australia.
Perez was a surprise second for Ferrari-powered Sauber, the best F1 result for himself and the Swiss outfit as an independent team as he rose from ninth on the grid.
World champion Sebastian Vettel of Red Bull and Jenson Button of McLaren finished outside the points in 11th and 14th place after damaging their cars in incidents with HRT driver Narain Karthikeyan.
Alonso took the first championship lead since late 2010 for Ferrari with 35 points from two races. Hamilton has 30, Button 25 while Vettel is sixth on 18.
Ferrari's first victory since the British GP in July 2011 was wildly celebrated by the fist-pumping Spanish driver and the Italian team.
'The win is a big surprise. We were not competitive in Australia or here. Our goal was to score as many points as possible. An unbelievable result, a great job from the team,' said Alonso, who got his 28th career victory in 2 hours 44 minutes 51.812 seconds.
But Alonso warned that Ferrari are still a far cry from really matching McLaren and others.
'The victory changes nothing. We are in a position that we don't want. We don't want to be fighting to go into Q3 and for points ... There is a lot of stuff coming to the car and this is the real job to do,' he said.
Perez was over the moon with his first career podium but also said: 'Today the win was possible. The team have done an incredible job. They called me (to the pits) always at the right time. The pace was fantastic. I have to say many thanks to the team.'
Hamilton was happy with third under the circumstances as McLaren maintained first place in the constructors' list.
'It think we can be satisfied. Fernando and Sergio drove fantastically today and it was very tough to catch them. We would have liked to have more points this weekend but I can't complain as I'm on the podium for the second weekend in a row. I was able to stay out of trouble with the conditions,' the Briton said.
A thunderstorm started just ahead of the start and all teams started with intermediate tyres as rain fell in some sections of the 5.543km course.
Button failed to get past Hamilton at the start as he had a week ago en route to winning the season-opener in Australia.
Most drivers soon switched to wets as the downpour lashed the course, the safety car came out in the seventh lap and the red flag to stop the no longer safe action in the ninth.
The restart came 51 minutes later behind the safety car with mandatory wets.
Button went in for intermediates immediately after the four-lap safety car phase but the smart move went up in smoke two laps later when he slid into Karthikeyan's and broke the front wing.
Up front Perez was passed for the lead by Alonso after both had quietly moved up the field. Perez chased down Alonso again in the closing stages on a now dry course, but slipped off the piste briefly six laps from the end.
Vettel's fate was sealed two laps earlier when he sliced the right rear tyre touching the car of the lapped Karthikeyan and blaming the Indian for the incident.
'Fourth is would have been OK, but then getting the tyre sliced by a lapped driver,' said the frustrated Vettel.
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