Alonso powers to his greatest triumph as Perez shines in Malaysia

25 March, 2012

Malaysian GP winner Fernando Alonso applauds second placed Sergio Perez

Malaysian GP winner Fernando Alonso applauds second placed Sergio Perez

Mar.25 (PVM-Reuters) Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso powered to what might be called his greatest triumph in his illustrious career, winning the Malaysian Grand Prix after a mammoth battle with Sauber’s Sergio Perez in the latter stages of a drama packed, rain affected, grand prix at Sepang.

Big win for Ferrari and fernando Alonso

Big win for Ferrari and Fernando Alonso

The two drivers, in Ferrari powered cars, battled it out right to the finish line while their rivals – particularly pre-race favourites McLaren and worlds champions Red Bull – imploded in trying conditions. Nevertheless, pole sitter Lewis Hamilton salvaged third for McLaren after leading from the start, but after some pitstop misfortunes, simply had no answer for the leading pair. Mark Webber was fourth for Red Bull.

It was an afternoon packed with drama – the race was halted for 51 minutes as officials red flagged the race after just eight laps due to torrential rain fell at the Sepang circuit.

The downpour reduced visibility to a bare minimum and the wet track caused cars to lose grip, leaving race organisers with no option other than to halt the race and wait for the weather to clear up.

Under clearing skies, the race restarted behind the safety car with Hamilton leading, Button in second and Perez third.

The entire field started on intermediate tyres and as rain began to lash the circuit, opted to switch to wets after a few more laps but with Button telling his team over the radio that the third sector was “like a lake”, the safety car was deployed.

Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren MP4-27 leads at the start of the race. Formula One World Championship, Rd2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Race, Sepang, Malaysia, Sunday 25 March 2012.

Lewis Hamilton led at the start of the race

Romain Grosjean was the only casualty before the stoppage, the Frenchman spinning off the track on the fourth lap in his Lotus, beaching his car in the gravel – a second DNF in the first two races of his season.

The McLaren pair held the initiative in the first stanza of the race, but after the restart their game plan went out the window as Button tangled with Narain Karthikeyan and damaged his front wing when he clipped the HRT while battling for position. Thereafter the Australian GP winner was out of contention, in conditions in which he normally excels.

Hamilton was compromised twice during pitstops, but in truth the McLaren went off the boil in the changing conditions and the Englishman spent the afternoon in damage control mode to take third.

Mark Webber’s fourth place for Red Bull was in stark contrast to their dominance a year earlier at the same venue. His teammate, last year’s winner Sebastian Vettel finished down in 11th after spending most of the afternoon battling for fourth place, things took a dive for the world champion as he too clipped Karthikeyan’s HRT, which resulted in a blowout and a limp back to the pits. He resumed after a tyre change, but was told (possibly for strategic reasons in terms of the engine use rules) to park it, with one lap to go.

Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari F2012. Formula One World Championship, Rd2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Race, Sepang, Malaysia, Sunday 25 March 2012.

Fernando Alonso’s Ferrari F2012 in the rain

Kimi Raikkonen’s return to the top of the sport continues to impress, the Lotus driver enduring a tough race in which he battled his way from 10th on the grid to fifth by the time the chequered flag dropped.

Williams were denied a good finish last time out in Melbourne when Pastor Maldonado slammed the wall on the final lap, this time around Bruno Senna made amends by finishing sixth at Sepang, in his best showing to date. Maldonado’s day again ended in heartache as the Renault engine on the back of his Williams expired with the finish in sight. he was running in tenth at the time.

Paul di Resta worked hard to claim seventh place for Force India after hard fought battle with Toro Rosso rookie Jean Eric Vergne. The pair finishing seventh and eighth respectively, with Vergne scoring points in only his second ever F1 race.

Nico Hulkenberg made up for his first lap disappointment in Australia, to take ninth place and ensured that both Force India drivers bagged points despite starting 14th and 16th respectively.

Michael Schumacher

Michael Schumacher salvaged a single point in tenth after starting from third on the grid

Final point went to Michael Schumacher, who 24 hours earlier enjoyed his best qualifying since his return in 2012. The seven times world champion was sluggish off the line, and midway around the first lap was tagged by Grosjean’s Lotus. This rendered the veteran to the back of the field, and thereafter he spent the race playing catch-up in the Mercedes which has great one hot lap pace, but deteriorates alarmingly in race trim.

Nico Rosberg, who started seventh, ended 13th in the W03, which looked like the mobile chicane described by Red Bull’s Helmut Marko earlier in the week.

But, without dispute, the day belonged to Alonso and Perez – the wily veteran versus the talented upstart. The pair delivered a nail biting show as Alonso defied the pressure Perez was piling on, as late in the race, as the surface dried up quickly, the Sauber C31 gained pace while the Ferrari F2012 struggled.

But, while at his closest to the Ferrari and apparently ready to pounce on lap 51, Perez went off track, lost about five seconds and it  was game over for the win. He recovered and tried to reel in the Ferrari, but Alonso had the final laps well covered to take a famous win, with Perez taking an equally impressive and well deserved second place.

Delight for Sauber and Sergio Perez

Delight for Sauber and Sergio Perez

Team owner Peter Sauber, who was in tears at the end of the race, will be particularly pleased with a huge points haul, also knowing his team have a strong car and that they made all the right calls on the day – including this one: “Checo be careful, we need this position. Be careful.”

There is no way Alonso woke up Sunday morning before the race and said: “I am going to win this afternoon…”

But that is exactly what he did, taking a woeful car – the Ferrari F2012 – and squeezing every ounce of performance in ultra-tricky conditions to score not only the most unlikely win of his career, but also a win that will give the under-fire Ferrari F1 team management some breathing space. There are a lot of heavy hitters at Maranello that now owe Alonso, big time.

The Spaniard said after his 28th F1 career victory, “A big surprise today the win. We were not competitive in Australia or here. Our goal was to score as many points as possible. An unbelievable result, a great job from the team. We maximised the potential in our hands. Keeping calm in some strange conditions at the begin with inters and the switching to dry tyres. The team deserve this win. It’s a tough time for us at the moment but this is a Sunday we will remember.”

Fernando Alonso celebreates in parc ferme

Fernando Alonso celebreates in parc ferme

But the Spaniard did not mince his words regarding what his team has to do to regain lost ground, “I think [the win] changes nothing. We are in a position that we don’t want. We don’t want to be fighting to go into Q3 and for points. The goal was not to lose many points. We did the job trackside. So this is a positive news but coming to China, Bahrain and China there is a lot of stuff coming to the car and this is the real job to do. We are very united and this win will make us very happy. But it doesn’t change our determination to improve the car and to keep winning.”

It is always great to watch a newcomer make it onto the F1 podium, as their joy is unrestrained and Perez was the picture of genuine pleasure, on the second step of the podium, celebrating his best grand prix finish to date. The young Mexican said afterwards, “Was the win possible? I think so. I was catching Fernando towards end of the race. I knew I had to get him soon because in all the high speed corners I was losing my front tyres running behind him. Then I ran wide in the quick left hander. I touched the kerb and I went onto the dirty side of the track. It was completely wet and I lost the win. Today the win was possible.

First time on the podium joy for Sergio Perez

First time on the podium joy for Sergio Perez

“The team have done an incredible job. They called me [into the pits] always at the right time. Unfortunately Fernando pitted one lap earlier than us towards the end and he opened some gap. The pace was fantastic. I have to say many thanks to the team,” added Perez.

Despite starting from pole it was in the end a lack-lustre day for McLaren, Hamilton was upbeat after the race, “It think we can be satisfied. Fernando and Sergio drove fantastically today and it was very tough to catch them. We would have liked to have more points this weekend but I can’t complain as I’m on the podium for the second weekend in a row. I was able to stay out of trouble with the conditions. We did a great job.”

Action resumes in China, in two weeks time, with Alonso leading the championship standings with 35 points, followed by Hamilton on 30 and Button with 25 to his credit.

Subbed by AJN.

Malaysian Grand Prix Result – Sepang, 25 March 2012

Pos No Driver Team Laps Time Grid Pts
1 5 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 56 Winner 8 25
2 15 Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 56 +2.2 secs 9 18
3 4 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 56 +14.5 secs 1 15
4 2 Mark Webber Red Bull Racing-Renault 56 +17.6 secs 4 12
5 9 Kimi Räikkönen Lotus-Renault 56 +29.4 secs 10 10
6 19 Bruno Senna Williams-Renault 56 +37.6 secs 13 8
7 11 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 56 +44.4 secs 14 6
8 17 Jean-Eric Vergne STR-Ferrari 56 +46.9 secs 18 4
9 12 Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 56 +47.8 secs 16 2
10 7 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 56 +49.9 secs 3 1
11 1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Racing-Renault 56 +75.5 secs 5
12 16 Daniel Ricciardo STR-Ferrari 56 +76.8 secs 15
13 8 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 56 +78.5 secs 7
14 3 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 56 +79.7 secs 2
15 6 Felipe Massa Ferrari 56 +97.3 secs 12
16 21 Vitaly Petrov Caterham-Renault 55 +1 Lap 19
17 24 Timo Glock Marussia-Cosworth 55 +1 Lap 20
18 20 Heikki Kovalainen Caterham-Renault 55 +1 Lap 24
19 18 Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 54 +2 Laps 11
20 25 Charles Pic Marussia-Cosworth 54 +2 Laps 21
21 23 Narain Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth 54 +2 Laps 23
22 22 Pedro de la Rosa HRT-Cosworth 54 +2 Laps 22
Ret 14 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 46 +10 Laps 17
Ret 10 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 3 +53 Laps 6


  • visz963

    Incredible drive from Alonso

  • fools

    Alonso…The worlds best!

  • surya kumar

    Hats off to Sergio, Had a great drive today and Viola from one race to another Alonso from Nowhere in the championship hunt is now leading the Pack. Hats of to Alonso as well. A very bad luck continues to haunt Hamilton, finishing in the exact same position as the Aussie GP.

  • MoneyR

    Perez!! Soooo unlucky with that mistake, nonetheless Alonso amazing.

  • Obvious

    As usual, classy, top level, professional drive from arguabley the top driver. Well done Fernando.

    Sergio!! What a drive, my man…

    KIMI, again, great drive…

  • McLaren fan

    Well I do not believe it what a race Alonso well done for dragging the donkey to the top. Sergio Perez fantastic drive, Hamilton did well.
    Jenson taken out by the HRT as was Vettel but was caned by Webber

  • Mildseven

    Incredible! Such a great drive. Especially the mid fielders battling out for point. Senna is actually half bad. But Perez hats off to him! Alonso i hated him personally. But he is really a magician.

  • kaka007

    alonso and perez – they were in a different class today
    kimi n webber – excellent.
    hami,vettel n button – decent but unlucky
    midfield pack also were very good especially senna n force india.
    mercedes,massa n grosjean – what to say woeful
    caterham,marussia n hrt – as usual

  • 3ligi0

    Sergio Peres Grande!!! :D

  • kaka007

    and the only team that got both their cars into points is force india..great job considering the conditions

  • Alex

    Gratz to Ferrari and Perez.

    Bad luck for Button, his error :(

    I know Kimi was always fast and solid as rock but he looked very strong, good performance considering he only did 1 installation lap on non-slick tyres :)

    Was looking for good duel between Vettel and Hamilton, oh well.

    Good race!!!

  • Firoze Munzeer

    Well done Alonso. As I said in a earlier comment quote “don’t write Alonso off” Great drive to bring the Ferrari home. How come Lewis’ McLaren did not have the race pace. It was the same in Australia. Sure he had two bad pit stops but then he did not set any fast lap times where as Button did. Lewis has been on pole for the last 2 races.

    As for woeful Massa, what can one say. I thought Button will have the same experience as Lewis did last year. Each of those incidents Lewis was the scapegoat.

    Today it was Button’s fault clipping Karthikeyan which led him to pitting and losing out. Did’nt Chuck say that Button was a better driver than Lewis. I think not.

  • fawxx

    FORZA FERRARI!

    magical drive by alonso and we finally get decent pit stretegy from ferrari’s pitwall.

    now whats left is to swap perez with massa and to change the dog of that F2012 to a winning rocket!

    and visz is finally not against alonso?!

  • Gonzo

    Team Order from Ferrari to Sauber. “Sergio: Fernando is faster than you”. obvious.

  • Jacko

    Simply unbelievable. This race really showed us the best of the best. Alonso & Perez drove beautifully. I only wish we saw a battle between them.

  • aknit

    As a Hamilton fan, I have to say congratulations to Alonso. An impressive drive with a car known to have major fundamental issues today. Bottom line, luck can play into a result all it likes, but what everyone remembers is the result (unfortunately or otherwise).

    Hamilton, since the final portions of last season, has been in situations where qualifying has been generally okay, but he has struggled to improve his pace during the race. I’ve been thinking that it was an issue with the car at first, or his setup in particular, but compared to Button’s charge today and last weekend, could it be a case of Hamilton trying very hard to stay out of trouble, not be as aggressive as he has always been claimed to be? I certainly hope not, as that will not be Hamilton we all know. Yes, being safe and cautious might win him the championship, but what will it do for his motivation? Obviously, he is happier today not because of 3rd, but because he beat Button, which is not an unreasonable justification for a bit of a grin at the podium, as the rules are teammate first, grid next.

    Perez! What a drive! As we’ve seen for some time now, that Sauber knows how to run the tyres for quite a decent number of laps, and it was clear that that was one of the reasons Perez was able to chase down Alonso. If he hadn’t panicked at the second-to-last turn, he would definitely had had Alonso in his mirrors by the dying laps.

    Alonso is right – the win today has been helped by them having a setup for their car that played to the weather. But the car still has some ways to go.

    Hamilton needs to figure out what’s going on with the pace, and McLaren need to replay what happened with the pit stops, both times – the FIA do not award points because bad pit stops could have been good. I just hope Hamilton isn’t playing it safe, or trying to learn how to conserve the tyres, or both.

    If Kobayashi hadn’t retired, Sauber would definitely have still been 3rd in the Constructors Championship, so good news for them, especially if weather continues to be this atrocious at future races.

    Massa may very well cost Ferrari their Constructors Championship, so he needs to figure that out. But if rumours about Perez replacing him were untrue, they couldn’t have surfaced at a better time :-).

  • fawxx

    @gonzo

    i dont see how did ferrari tell sauber to not let perez overtake alonso.

    sauber radioed perez to be careful and not throw away his 2nd place. after he went off the track.

  • Anakin

    Cough*** Team Order!!!

  • Pit Rat

    this isn’t Alonso’s most unlikely career win!… Singapore 2008 was! come on people what’s up with the short memory?

  • Ankit

    Peter Sauber has denied any suggestions that Sergio Perez was ordered to not attack Fernando Alonso for victory in Malaysia – because it would prevented engine partner Ferrari taking an mportant win. Perez was closing in on Alonso for the lead of the race in Sepang when a call came on the radio late on for him to take care His engineer told him: “Checo, be careful, we need this position, we need this position” Shortly after that order was made, Perez ran off the track and lost valuable time – which cost him any chance of overhauling Alonso for a shock win. That radio message prompted wild conspiracy theories that Ferrari may have requested Perez to back off to protect Alonso’s chances – but Sauber has rubbished such talk”We told him, be careful – we need the result – because behind us, all of our competitors scored points,” Sauber said when asked about the situation ” we needed the result, not the position, so there is some misunderstanding Behind us our competitors, all the midfield teams, scored points and it was so important that we kept the result not the position.” When asked if there had been any discussion with Ferrari about the situation, Sauber said: “One hundred per cent nothing. We had no discussion about Checo and we had no discussion about the position”.

    Calm down just because you cannot believe that Alonso can take victory and just because you cannot believe that Perez could have bad luck and spin. Even after being ordered to keep that 2nd position, Perez was still pushing hard and thats the reason he spun. Im sure that haters like you’ll who said that Ferrari cheated, have little brains to understand that Perez wont deliberately spin off and lose his hopes of a podium finish just to let Alonso take victory. He was ordered to keep calm and not make mistakes at the last few laps, but he still drove to the limit and spun because of his own mistake! Alonso won fair and square! Live with it. Forza!

  • Tamburello_1994

    @ visz963

    Are you O.K.? Glad to see at least today you recognize greatness. I wouldn’t call myself an Alonzo-fan But I call then as I see them. Fifth all-time on the wins list is nothing to shake a stick at. So, kudo’s to you visz.

    Sauber and Williams have to thrilled. Perez and young Senna showed they belong here. Great drives! Kimi Räikkönen also has nothing to be ashamed of in his second race back. . . Renault I think will get an podium soon. As for Mercedes, along with McLaren, need to translate qualy performance to the race and they should be fine.

    Poor F. Massa. Gonna be a real tough week for him. fifteenth isn’t gonna cut it no matter how sympathetic you are. Specially after your teammate showed at least today, You had a winning car. Shanghai Ferrari may struggle again. this was Massa time to produce something. . . . Would be able to blame the car now that Alonso proved it can win.

  • arminen

    Alonso’s win is pure luck,Sergio Perez and the Sauber team really deserved win in this race

  • fawxx

    lol my comment got moderated.

  • Psych4191

    Fernando was impressive, but Perez was far more impressive to me. We all know Alonso is a competitive racer, and will extract 100% of the car’s potential. The weather helped out the Ferrari engines as well, as it looks like Mercedes’ engines were ripped up by the inclimate weather.

    About Perez – he’ll be in red overalls before it’s all said and done. Massa’s time has run out, sadly.

    And how about Webber? Becoming the number one guy for Red Bull. When’s the last time Vettel didn’t get points(not in a DNF)?

  • TheF1Fan

    Finally nice to see vettel off the top 10 m/
    Great drives from Alonso,Perez,Weber and kimi, of course m/

  • ron1970

    Great drive from all the field in trying conditions, I feel sorry for all the armchair racers that can’t except the final result. Please let me know that every time Mclaren win’s it is because Mercedes let them , because of thir customer status.

  • Nemo

    @ ron1970, LOL, so true. Mercedes just let mclaren get 1-2 in qualy too , and Renault have let RBR win the last 2 championships, lol.

    As far as the race, for me its hard to split the great drives of Alonso, Sergio, Senna & Raikkonen.

  • fred.e

    In a world of ‘what if’…. What if Perez did pass Alonso? What would the Italian media be doing to Ferrari now.
    Life is much better this way…

  • me262

    Not a team order. Saubers message to checo was just like the message Maldonado received in the Aussie GP when he threw away 6th place while chasing alonso….

  • Taz

    Hey guys, awesome race today,
    i would like to say last week after aus race there was an article about “trail by fire”at malaysia ^^ great win…
    would have like to see parez fight alonso for the win.. but was great disision not to as saubur really need the point and it shows on the contractors table.
    hey what if button didnt not lose his wing.. he would ahve won right? to much things happened in the race to remember great race, great drivve from all drivers
    OMG massa? where was he??? nah but i know massa failed once again but u guys saw how hard he was fighting with think it was senner and co around the turn 5 where webeb and the other aus was over taking on the outside , that was mega as well, coul see messa fighting for posioions but just not competitive enough. lets see the new F2012 in a few races.. thanks

  • Carl Wolfgramm

    @ aknit if you actually watched the race y would realize Hamilton lost the race in the pitstop as the back trolley took forever to get on and lost 5-10 secs and the lead

  • aknit

    @Carl Wolfgramm

    I am actually based in Malaysia, but had to watch the race on Tv as I was in the middle of leaving the country.

    I did watch the race, and McLaren botched the pit stops, twice. That definitely didn’t help, but looking at the race space, Hamilton was consistently falling behind Perez and after Vettel retired, Webber had started eating into his lap times too.

    It wasn’t just the pit stops (which were less than stellar), but the overall chase-down pace as well. I only hope it’s just that, and Hamilton not trying to “grow up too quickly” :-).

  • me262

    great to have 2 grand prix’s and no Vettel winning finger :)

    BTW where is visz963? ohhhh viszzzzzzz? where are you? did you watch the malaysian grand prix? hmmmm didnt thinkso hahaha

  • checkitout

    FORZA FERRARI!!!! ahhahaha Visz you sad prick, why aren’t you commenting like your used to doing? Let me tell everyone why the prick wouldn’t say anything, because not only did alonso prove the F1 universe wrong gave us all a better reason to piss him off :p. Alonso is the best!!!!!!

  • Lol.

    So visz963 says something nice, and even then people insult him..?

    Nice logic, team.

    Alonso was wonderful. Perez Incredible.

    Button, a jester.

  • Twiinz

    Visz was the first one to comment on Alonso’s great drive. Don’t rag on him when it is not justified. What an exciting race. I hope the whole season is this good. :)

  • Nowhereman

    Only Alonso can take a mediocre car and win with it.
    Perez has lots of top side but, he’s never driven the F2012 and I doubt he could make it better.
    Ferrari should be walking away from Sauber.
    That shows how woefull the F2012 is.
    It’s beliveable that some cars cannot be coped with by drivers but, world class drivers should be able to cope and adjust.
    Congrats Alonso, lets hope the new car is almost complete.

  • visz963

    Guys, please stop hurting me feelings :(, I’m sorry and now i’ve come to think of it, alonso is the best and he’s everything an amazing driver should be. I’m sorry everyone. Ferrari number 1

  • fawxx

    are you the real viz? lol

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