Fernando Alonso has won the Malaysian Grand Prix. In a race in which McLaren comprehensively beat their rivals Ferrari on tactics, the Woking based team secured their first 1-2 finish since Brazil 2005.
Both McLaren drivers led from the third corner, with rookie Hamilton passing both Ferraris. It was Hamilton who gifted the win to Alonso, holding back the chasing Ferraris and building a considerable buffer during the first stage of the race. Apart from radio issues for the race leader from lap ten until his first pit stop, it was plain sailing for the Spaniard, who took victory twenty seconds ahead of Hamilton.
Hamilton meanwhile had to fight off the advances of both Massa, before his first stop, and Raikkonen during the closing stages of the race. Hamilton finished just under a second ahead of the Finn, as the Brit appeared to struggle after his second pit stop. Massa finished behind Heidfeld in fifth, after a costly off-track excursion before his first pit stop whilst chasing Hamilton. The young Brazilian misjudged his braking into turn four, losing five and a half seconds, allowing team-mate Raikkonen and Heidfeld to get ahead.
The race wasn t without incident, on lap one the Spyker of Sutil spun at turn four with suspension failure caused by contact with another car, possibly Liuzzi, at the start. Button was clipped by the spinning Spyker, but continued, while Liuzzi pitted on lap 2 for a replacement front wing. The second Spyker of Albers suffered drama on lap 8, with the Ferrari engine catching fire in the pits, after driving most of the lap stuck in third gear.
While Heidfeld brought his BMW home in fourth, team-mate Kubica had a race to forget. The Poll left the track late in the race at turn seven, after an afternoon of engine misfires and traction control issues. Robert managed to rejoin, dragging gravel onto the racing line.
After his terrifying exit to the Australian Grand Prix, David Coulthard had hoped to take his Red Bull to the finish today. However, the Scot retired midway through the race with steering problems. Earlier in the race weekend, Coulthard reported the steering rack becoming caught on the brake pedal. There was also disappointment for young Nico Rosberg. The Williams driver retired from sixth position, with what could have been hydraulics failure with just thirteen laps remaining.
Despite another torrid weekend, both Renault drivers finished in the points, with Kovalainen scoring his first World Championship point in F1. Trulli separated the two Renaults to claim seventh position.
McLaren now leads Ferrari by nine points, with Alonso leading Raikkonen by two points in the Drivers Championship. Ferrari could well be talking to Ross Brawn before the Bahrain Grand Prix next weekend, as the Italian team really suffered today without their former tactician on the pit wall.