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08 Apr 2007 11:18
World champion Fernando Alonso won the Malaysian Grand Prix on Sunday to hand new team McLaren-Mercedes their first Formula One (F1) win since 2005.
Rookie Lewis Hamilton, F1’s first black driver, added to the McLaren resurgence by finishing second ahead of Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen, who won the season-opening Australian Grand Prix last month.
Pole-sitter Felipe Massa of Ferrari was overtaken by Alonso and Hamilton on the first lap and never challenged the lead from then on, finishing fifth.
Sunday’s win is the 16th of Alonso’s career. The last time a McLaren won an F1 Grand Prix was October 2005 in Japan, when Raikkonen claimed victory.
In the first race of the year it was Raikkonen, Alonso and Hamilton in the top three.
Nick Heidfeld of BMW-Sauber finished fourth on Sunday for the second straight race.
Massa lost the lead to Alonso and Hamilton in the run to the first turn.
Alonso, who took the world title in 2005 and 2006 for Renault, switched this season to McLaren, who had a winless season in 2006, their first since 1996.
The Spaniard also become the first McLaren winner in Malaysia since Raikkonen in 2003. Alonso started from pole position for that race at the age of 21, setting a record for the youngest driver to take pole in F1.
After taking the lead on Sunday, Alonso quickly established a five-second lead after four laps, increasing it by almost a second a lap. After 10 laps, Alonso was cruising 10 seconds ahead of Hamilton, who had a slim lead over Raikkonen.
At the midpoint of the 56-lap race, Alonso led by almost nine seconds over Hamilton, with Raikkonen 21 off the pace. It stayed that way through the rest of the race with Alonso building up the advantage after the second pit stops.
Giancarlo Fisichella, last year’s winner here, was sixth for Renault but more than a minute behind. He was followed by Toyota’s Jarno Trulli and Heikki Kovalainen, who replaced Alonso at Renault.
In the constructors’ race, McLaren now lead with 32 points after two races with Ferrari next at 23 points. Alonso leads the drivers’ standings on 18 points, ahead of Raikkonen on 16.
The next race is the Bahrain Grand Prix on April 15.—Sapa-AP
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