Mon, Mar 21, 2005 - Page 20 News List

Fernando Alonso wins in Renault


Formula One driver Fernando Alonso of Spain passes his Renault teammates as he wins the Malaysian Grand Prix on Sunday. Italy's Jarno Trulli in a Toyota finished second and Germany's Nick Heidfeld in a Williams-BMW was third.


Fernando Alonso won yesterday's Malaysian Grand Prix to give Renault back-to-back F1 victories and Jarno Trulli captured a maiden podium position for Toyota.

Alonso's teammate Giancarlo Fisichella crashed out, taking Williams' Mark Webber with him, and seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher collected his first points of 2005 with a seventh-place finish for Ferrari.

Alonso, third at the season-opening Australian Grand Prix two weeks ago behind Fisichella and Ferrari's Rubens Barrichello, led from pole position to collect his second GP title.

He covered 56 laps of the 5.543km Sepang circuit in 1 hour, 31 minutes, 33.736 seconds, 24.3 seconds clear of Trulli and 32.1 ahead of Williams' Nick Heidfeld, who moved up from 10th place on the starting grid.

The 23-year-old Spaniard, who became the youngest winner in F1 when he clinched his first title at Hungary last year, bounded up onto the top of the podium and pumped his arms into the air three times after his win at Sepang.

"It's the second race for the engine and the car, so the team showed again that we're the team to beat," said Alonso, already looking forward to the next race. "I'm convinced that again in Bahrain, we'll again be the reference point."

Trulli, who left Renault late last season to join Toyota, started beside Alonso on the front of the grid and managed his race to remain clear of the danger zone behind him and give the Japanese automaker its first podium finish since joining F1 in 2002.

"I had a pretty good start. I was competitive," he said. "I think I was pretty easy in second position -- it's fantastic to bring the first podium finish for Toyota."

Heidfeld earned valuable points for Williams, making up for crashing out of the Australian GP where he collided with Michael Schumacher.

Sam Hornish Jr. returned to victory lane for the first time in over a year and returned to the top of the Indy Racing League points series Saturday, winning the XM Satellite Radio Indy 200 at Phoenix International Raceway.

The two-time IRL champion beat Marlboro Team Penske teammate Helio Castroneves by 1.04 seconds after finishing second two weeks ago in Miami.

"Really, it's been a tough road over the last year," said Hornish, whose only other victory with Marlboro Team Penske came in the 2004 season-opener at Homestead. "Every time we thought we were turning the corner, something else happened. This start has been a real pleasant surprise."

Another typical IRL photo finish appeared to be shaping up with two laps to go Saturday before Dario Franchitti gambled and lost.

With Hornish holding a narrow lead over Franchitti after the last of four caution flags in the 200-lap event, the Scotsman tried an outside move on the restart on lap 199 and wound up sliding up the slick 1.609km oval and scraping the concrete wall in turn two.

Hornish raced on to his 13th career victory, beating teammate Helio Castroneves to the finish line by about half the final straightaway.

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