Mon, Apr 09, 2007 - Page 20 News List

Alonso wins Malaysian Grand Prix for new team

AP , SEPANG, MALAYSIA

Spanish Formula 1 driver Fernando Alonso of McLaren-Mercedes celebrates yesterday with the winner's trophy after the Malaysian Grand Prix at Sepang near Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. England's Lewis Hamilton of McLaren-Mercedes F1 came in second and Finland's Kimi Raikkonen of Ferrari came in third.

PHOTO: EPA

World champion Fernando Alonso won the Malaysian Grand Prix yesterday to hand new team McLaren-Mercedes its first Formula One 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 GP 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.

"When I was leading after the first corner and I saw who was second, that opened the dream to win the race," Alonso said.

"We knew our chance was to overtake the Ferraris at the start," he added. "We were lucky to do it and it was even better to have your teammate second."

Yesterday'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.

After just two races with McLaren, Alonso found it hard to believe he was a winner for his new team.

"It's absolutely fantastic. It is wonderful what we achieved in so short a time," he said. "From the first test in December to the new car in January, I think it is just difficult to believe."

In the first race of the year it was Raikkonen, Alonso and Hamilton in the top three. Nick Heidfeld of BMW-Sauber finished fourth yesterday for the second straight race.

Massa went onto the grass on the sixth lap trying to overtake Hamilton, losing five seconds and two places.

"I braked late and he braked later and went straight on," Hamilton said.

Massa was unrepentant.

"I tried to attack Lewis but I made a mistake and ended up off the track," Massa said. "I cannot blame myself for trying and next time things will go better."

Alonso, who took the world title in 2005 and 2006 for Renault, switched this season to McLaren, which had a winless season in 2006, its 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 Formula One.

In the constructors competition, McLaren now leads 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 Sunday.

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