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Alonso hands Renault second win in a row
March 20, 2005 15:46 IST
Renault's Fernando Alonso won the Malaysian Grand Prix on Sunday to seize the lead from team mate Giancarlo Fisichella in the Formula One championship.
The 23-year-old's second career victory was also the second in two races for his pace-setting French team and made him the first Spaniard ever to lead the championship.
Italian Jarno Trulli took second place for Toyota, ecstatic with their first podium finish since they entered Formula One in 2002, 24.3 seconds behind Alonso.
Germany's Nick Heidfeld finished third for Williams after starting 10th.
India's Narain Karthikeyan, driving for Jordan, finished 11th.
While Renault celebrated, once-dominant champions Ferrari again struggled to score points with seven times champion Michael Schumacher finishing seventh and Brazilian Rubens Barrichello retiring.
Alonso's winning time was one hour 31 minutes and 33.736 seconds. He has 16 points to Fisichella's 10 while Renault lead the constructor's standings with 26 points to Toyota's 12.
"The team showed again that they are the team to beat," said Alonso, whose labours in the stifling heat were compounded by a faulty drink bottle.
"This is one of the best races to win for me, the most technical circuit, most difficult and best of the championship for me with Spa."
Renault's hopes of a second double podium in a row disappeared 18 laps from the finish however when Fisichella, running third, collided with the overtaking Williams of Australian Mark Webber.
While Alonso took the chequered flag after starting from pole position, Ferrari and Schumacher struggled in the hottest race on the calendar.
The German, who failed to finish the Australian season-opener, could at least console himself with two points at a favourite Ferrari circuit where he has won more times than any other driver.
Colombian Juan Pablo Montoya was fourth for McLaren with Toyota's Ralf Schumacher fifth.
Briton David Coulthard, whose deal is heavily cash for points, added to his bank balance with sixth place for newcomers Red Bull.
The three points made the Scot the highest scoring British driver in Formula One history, taking his tally to 483. Nigel Mansell, the 1992 champion, had 482 although the scoring system was different then.
Austrian Christian Klien finished eighth, Red Bull's second successive double scoring finish.
The biggest celebrations were at Toyota, who had not previously finished higher than fifth in any race.
"We still have some work to do but it is definitely nice to be here," said Trulli, winner in Monaco for Renault last season.
"This first podium is a good boost and it comes at just the right time for the team."
Neither of the BARs lasted more than three laps, both Briton Jenson Button and compatriot Anthony Davidson pulling over with smoking engines.
McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen, the 2003 race winner who led for a lap after the first pitstops, had his race scuppered by a rear right tyre failure that left him limping back to the pits on three wheels.
Just 13 of the 20 cars finished the race.
1. Fernando Alonso (Spain) Renault one hour 31 minutes 33.736 seconds (average speed 203.407kph)
2. Jarno Trulli (Italy) Toyota 1:31:58.063
3. Nick Heidfeld (Germany) Williams 1:32:05.924
4. Juan Pablo Montoya (Colombia) McLaren 1:32:15.367
5. Ralf Schumacher (Germany) Toyota 1:32:25.590
6. David Coulthard (Britain) Red Bull 1:32:46.279
7. Michael Schumacher (Germany) Ferrari 1:32:53.724
8. Christian Klien (Austria) Red Bull 1:32:54.571
9. Kimi Raikkonen (Finland) McLaren 1:32:55.316
10. Felipe Massa (Brazil) Sauber one lap behind
11. Narain Karthikeyan (India) Jordan two laps
12. Tiago Monteiro (Portugal) Jordan three laps
13. Christijan Albers (Netherlands) Minardi four laps
Rubens Barrichello (Brazil) Ferrari 49 laps completed
Giancarlo Fisichella (Italy) Renault 36 laps
Mark Webber (Australia) Williams 36 laps
Jacques Villeneuve (Canada) Sauber 26 laps
Jenson Button (Britain) BAR two laps
Anthony Davidson (Japan) BAR two laps
Patrick Friesacher (Austria) Minardi two laps
Fastest lap: Raikkonen: 1:35.483, 208.987 kph (lap 23)