Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso won a dramatic Formula One Malaysian Grand Prix on Sunday, giving the Italian team one of its most improbable victories in its long history.
In a race that was stopped for 51 minutes due to the rain, Alonso was overtaken by Sauber’s Sergio Perez until the Mexican driver ran off the track with six laps to go, giving the Ferrari enough of a gap to win.
The Ferrari team had been considered to be in crisis after a poor start to the season, but a superb display of wet-weather driving gave two-time world champion Alonso a memorable victory. Perez’s second place was Sauber’s best-ever race finish.
Pole-sitter Lewis Hamilton of McLaren finished third ahead of Red Bull’s Mark Webber and Lotus’ Kimi Raikkonen.
“It’s an unbelievable result, a great job from the team,” Alonso said. “It’s a big surprise to win. We were not competitive in Australia and we were not competitive (in qualifying) here.”
Perez’s delight with his first podium was tempered by the knowledge that it could have been a win.
“Today a win was possible,” Perez said. “I was catching Fernando and I knew I had to get him soon because (on) the sectors with high speed I was losing the front tires.
I touched the curb and I went onto the dirty side of the track. It was completely wet and I lost the win.”
Hamilton finished third from pole for a second straight week, but was glad to have avoided the trouble that struck some championship rivals.
“We would have liked to have more points this weekend but I can’t really complain - I’m on the podium for the second race in a row.”
Williams’ Bruno Senna finished sixth in his best F1 finish, Force India’s Paul di Resta and Nico Hulkenberg were seventh and ninth, respectively, separated by Toro Rosso’s Jules Vergne. Mercedes’ Michael Schumacher took the last point for tenth place.
The race finished at 6:48 p.m. local time (10.48 GMT) due to the long delay caused by a tropical downpour that started after just six laps.
Immediately after the restart, there was a flurry of pit stops as drivers changed from full wet to intermediate tires, and Alonso emerged in the lead.
World champion Sebastian Vettel of Red Bull was running in fourth place for most of the latter half of the race, but picked up a puncture when he collided with HRT’s Narain Karthikeyan with nine laps to go, and finished 11th.
McLaren’s Jenson Button also clipped Karthikeyan earlier in the race, dropping him to last postion, before he recovered to 14th.