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Kimi Central arrow Race results arrow Sepang 2007 Grand Prix: Alonso wins as McLaren outguns Ferrari
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Sepang 2007 Grand Prix: Alonso wins as McLaren outguns Ferrari
Sunday, 08 April 2007
formula 1 small2Fernando Alonso scored his first victory for McLaren with a consummate drive at Sepang on Sunday, while Lewis Hamilton once again provided the fireworks en route to a brilliant runner-up finish.

Ferrari had to make do with third and fifth places for Raikkonen and Felipe Massa – a meagre payback from a race it had been expected to dominate...

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McLaren's dynamic new driver pairing delivered its first 1-2 since September 2005 and its first race win since Kimi Raikkonen’s memorable triumph in Japan that year.

Alonso seized the lead at the start and was never seriously challenged, his only concern being a malfunctioning radio which made communication with the team on the pit wall difficult.

The win thrust the double world champion into an early lead in the 2007 title chase, as the Spaniard confounded expectations by outpacing the Ferraris throughout.

Hamilton, meanwhile, showed the same blend of speed, flair and composure that had been evident on his debut in Australia – pulling off a superbly opportunistic double pass at the start and withstanding fierce pressure from both Ferraris at different stages of the race.

Splitting the Ferraris was BMW Sauber’s Nick Heidfeld, the underrated German again driving beautifully to extract the maximum from the competitive F1.07 package.

Alonso outbraked polesitter Massa into the first corner, and as he did so Hamilton completed a carbon-copy move on Raikkonen.

Not content with that, Lewis displayed the same audacity he had in Melbourne and – calm as you like – drove around the outside of Massa in the next hairpin.

So in the space of the first few seconds, the McLarens had grabbed the top two places and the Ferraris found themselves bundled back to third and fourth.

Alonso immediately put some distance between himself and Hamilton, who soon had Massa looming large in his mirrors.

The Brazilian made a number of passing attempts, all expertly rebuffed by Hamilton – although it was knife-edge stuff as the rookie needed his razor-sharp reflexes to hang on to his tail-happy McLaren.

On one of these occasions, on lap four, Felipe made a bid down the inside of turn four but slipped sideways at the apex, allowing Hamilton to repass him on the exit.

Two laps later, the increasingly frustrated Brazilian made a concerted bid at the same corner – and this time badly misjudged his braking move on the dusty inside line and slid across the grass.

By the time he gathered it together again, Hamilton was long gone and Heidfeld had also nipped past.

While all this commotion was going on Alonso had made his escape, and had 7.5s in hand after the first half-dozen laps.

He steadily added to that cushion over the remainder of the opening stint, and it had swollen to more than 15s by the time he made his first pit stop on lap 18.

Having suckered one Ferrari driver into a mistake, Hamilton kept the other at bay throughout the first stint, and by virtue of a later first stop than Alonso, assumed the lead for the second race running.

McLaren put Lewis on a short middle stint to enable him to pull out a gap over Raikkonen, and the ploy worked to perfection.

In fact, together with a front wing adjustment at the pit stop, it transformed the handling of Hamilton’s car and he began to take chunks out of Alonso’s hitherto luxurious lead.

As it turned out, the Spaniard was never in real jeopardy since Hamilton was due to pit several laps earlier than him.

But in the meantime Hamilton was on a tear, posting the fastest lap of the race on lap 22 and closing to within 7.5s before beginning the second flurry of pit stops on lap 39.

By this stage Raikkonen had fallen some 20s adrift of the leader, having been stuck behind the late-stopping Renault of Giancarlo Fisichella for several laps after his own stop.

Massa, meanwhile, had spent the entire middle stint behind Heidfeld’s BMW and unable to do anything about it.

Alonso’s final pit stop went off without a hitch and he continued unchallenged to the chequered flag – although he didn’t let up his pace and padded his margin over Hamilton out to more than 17s.

Lewis, in fact, was back in defensive mode as the handling of his McLaren appeared to have lost its fine edge on the hard-compound tyres and he battled dehydration in the cockpit.

But despite heavy pressure from a fast-closing Raikkonen, Hamilton showed no signs of cracking and withstood the Finn’s late foray to hold on for second place.

Massa’s spirit seemed to have been broken by his early-race error and Heidfeld ultimately took the flag some 3s ahead of him.

World champions Renault salvaged a few points from a disappointing weekend, Fisichella finishing a distant sixth ahead of fellow Italian Jarno Trulli who opened his account for the season for Toyota.

Heikki Kovalainen completed his morale-boosting weekend, erasing the bad memories of Melbourne by taking the first point of his young F1 career in the second Renault.

The Finn benefited from misfortune that struck his old GP2 rival Nico Rosberg, whose Williams expired just 13 laps from home while lying a strong sixth.


Malaysian Grand Prix, Sepang, unofficial result (56 laps)

1.  ALONSO        Mclaren      56 laps

2.  HAMILTON      McLaren      +17.5s

3.  RAIKKONEN     Ferrari      +18.3s
4.  HEIDFELD      BMW          +33.7s

5.  MASSA         Ferrari      +36.7s
6.  FISICHELLA    Renault      +1m05.6s
7.  TRULLI        Toyota       +1m10.1s

8.  KOVALAINEN    Renault      +1m12.0s

9.  WURZ          Williams     +1m29.9s
10. WEBBER        Red Bull     +1m33.5s
11. BARRICHELLO   Honda        +1 lap

12. BUTTON        Honda        +1 lap

13. SATO          Super Aguri  +1 lap
14. SPEED         Toro Rosso   +1 lap

15. R SCHUMACHER  Toyota       +1 lap

16. DAVIDSON      Super Aguri  +1 lap

17. LIUZZI        Toro Rosso   +1 lap

18. KUBICA        BMW          +1 lap

R.  ROSBERG       Williams     +14 laps

R.  COULTHARD     Red Bull     +20 laps

R.  SUTIL         Spyker       +49 laps

R.  ALBERS        Spyker       +56 laps


source: itv-f1.com

 
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