25 March 2012

Alonso rides Malaysian storm to claim surprise win

Sepang podium finishers - photo from gpupdate - sutton
Fernando Alonso claimed his first win since Silverstone GP last year when he successfully fend-off the equally surprising Sauber of Sergio Perez, who went on to finish second. Lewis Hamilton finished third for second consecutive times, after also be on pole twice consecutively.

The race itself was quite a dramatic affair. The race was started under the light rain, where all contenders were on inters. As the light went off, both McLaren started cleanly, while the veteran third placement Michael Schumacher suffered a bad start, immediately losing place to the fast starter Romain Grosjean who later punted him off several corner later, which Webber carefully capitalized to seize third. After recovering from their spin, Michael was down to 13th, while Grosjean was running in 18th.

However, shortly afterwards, all runners immediately pitted for the full wet, as rain intensified. FIA then deemed the race was too dangerous to be continued, triggering a red flag in lap 9.

The race restarted at 5.15pm local time, and was conducted behind the safety car. The safety car stayed on for 3 laps. Upon the real restart, many drivers dived in the pit for an inters. However, several front runner decided to stick on the full wet, namely Hamilton and Perez, and both Red Bulls and Ferraris. When they finally pitted, Alonso capitalized on Hamilton slight delay in his release from the box, ironically to give way to Massa who was on his way to pit box. More after the jump.

It was a led Alonso never relinquished till the end. Towards the end of the race, Perez was really flying, particularly after switching to dry tyres. However, after getting a "Be careful" message from his team, Perez went off slightly in turn 14, effectively ending the Sauber-Ferrari effort to haul the Ferrari works team. It was nevertheless a great drive by the young driver, who is rumoured to join Ferrari next year.

Many big names however, fail to score significant points. Jenson Button was way back in 14th after clipping his front wing to Karthikeyan HRT, Michael Schumacher never threatened after his spin, Rosberg drifted backwards due to tyre degredation, Vettel suffered from late puncture and Massa was never in a contention. 

The order at the finish is as tabulated below:

Pos. Driver Team Time
1 Fernando Alonso Ferrari Winner
2 Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari +2.2 secs
3 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes +14.5 secs
4 Mark Webber Red Bull Racing-Renault +17.6 secs
5 Kimi Räikkönen Lotus-Renault +29.4 secs
6 Bruno Senna Williams-Renault +37.6 secs
7 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes +44.4 secs
8 Jean-Eric Vergne STR-Ferrari +46.9 secs
9 Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes +47.8 secs
10 Michael Schumacher Mercedes GP +49.9 secs
11 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Racing-Renault +75.5 secs
12 Daniel Ricciardo STR-Ferrari +76.8 secs
13 Nico Rosberg Mercedes GP +78.5 secs
14 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes +79.7 secs
15 Felipe Massa Ferrari +97.3 secs
16 Vitaly Petrov Caterham-Renault +1 Lap
17 Timo Glock Marussia-Cosworth +1 Lap
18 Heikki Kovalainen Caterham-Renault +1 Lap
19 Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault +2 Laps
20 Charles Pic Marussia-Cosworth +2 Laps
21 Narain Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth +2 Laps
22 Pedro de la Rosa HRT-Cosworth +2 Laps
Ret Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari +10 Laps
Ret Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault +53 Laps

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