Fisichella leads home Renault one-two

Giancarlo Fisichella put his myriad 2005 disappointments behind him here yesterday, scoring the third grand prix victory of his career. But it was a close-run thing as his world champion team-mate Fernando Alonso pushed hard in the closing stages and finished only 4.6 seconds behind to give Renault the perfect result.

Jenson Button, as usual, played down his prospects but had to fancy his chances after qualifying second. Things picked up even more for him on the opening lap when likely threat Kimi Raikkonen was forced out after contact with Christian Klien's Red Bull. But things began to go wrong when Alonso made a demon start from seventh place to grab third by the first corner.

The Spaniard started down the grid after suffering a fuelling rig malfunction in the final round of qualifying, his overloaded Renault proving no match for his lighter rivals. The error cost him the race.

Somehow, however, he went past the duelling Williams of Mark Webber and the rookie Nico Rosberg and the two McLarens, even though he was running a greater fuel load than most of them. Fisichella and Button quickly broke clear of the pack as Alonso kept Webber bottled up behind him, but Rosberg had little chance to shine as his Cosworth engine exploded in a spectacular sheet of flame on the seventh lap.

Button took over the lead when Fisichella refuelled on the 17th lap, and held it until his own stop two laps later. Alonso, however, was able to go until lap 26 until he surrendered the lead to refuel. Crucially, Button had rejoined the race behind Juan Pablo Montoya's McLaren, which did not need fuel until lap 23.

When the first round of stops was over, Button was back in second place, chasing Fisichella from a distance of around nine seconds, but it was clear that the Italian would only lose this one through misfortune.

Both he and Button refuelled again on lap 38, and again Button fell behind Montoya who did not stop until lap 42. Alonso came in on lap 43, but this time was able to rejoin ahead of the delayed Englishman's Honda. Renault's 1-2 was sealed. For Fisichella, the win was redemption for what many saw as a less than robust defence of the lead against Kimi Raikkonen in Japan last year, when the Finn overtook him on the penultimate lap to win.

There was perhaps an echo of that memory when he said: "It was a very tough race physically and mentally. It was really, really hot out there and I began to feel it from mid-race onwards. I knew it would be hard but there was no choice but to push all the way to the end." The need to push came because Alonso was not about to settle for second when a win might still be possible. "I have a special feeling for this circuit, it is a fantastic track and has always been good to me," Alonso said.

While the Renault boys were smiling, Button's post-race face betrayed his complete disappointment as that possible second place finish became third. Plenty of others would have been satisfied with that, but Jenson's days of excitement over lower podium positions are long behind him in a year when he needs to get his first victory.

"I'm obviously pleased to see us back on the podium but it was the top step that we had in mind. We want to be winning races and today showed that we are in the fight, but there is still a lot of work to be done before we can achieve that target." He was also angry after losing time behind the American rookie Scott Speed. "I was held up in traffic a few times," he said, adding, "not least of all by Speed."

Montoya finished fourth in a race that seemed to lack life. Just be thankful that the season opened the way it did in Bahrain.

Ferrari lost their edge in Malaysia. As Montoya finished fourth, Michael Schumacher found his two-stop strategy inferior to upcoming team-mate Felipe Massa's single stop and had to follow the Brazilian home in sixth place. That was sufficient, however, to keep him in joint second place with Button as Alonso stretched his championship lead.

"We can accept this result considering everything that has happened over the weekend," said Schumacher philosophically.

Grand Prix of Malaysia (Sepang): 1 G Fisichella (It) Renault 1hr 30min 40.529sec; 2 F Alonso (Sp) Renault +00min 04.585sec; 3 J Button (GB) Honda +00:09.631; 4 J P Montoya (Col) McLaren-Mercedes +00:39.351; 5 F Massa (Br) Ferrari +00:43.254; 6 M Schumacher (Ger) Ferrari +00:43.854; 7 J Villeneuve (Can) BMW-Sauber +01:20.461; 8 R Schumacher (Ger) Toyota +01:21.288; 9 J Trulli (It) Toyota 1 lap; 10 R Barrichello (Br) Honda +1 lap; 11 V Liuzzi (It) Scuderia Toro Rosso-Cosworth +2 laps; 12 C Albers (Neth) Midland-Toyota +2 laps; 13 T Monteiro (Por) Midland-Toyota +2 laps; 14 T Sato (Japan) Super Aguri-Honda +3 laps.

Dnf: N Heidfeld (Ger) BMW-Sauber (8 laps); S Speed (US) Toro Rosso-Cosworth (15 laps); Y Ide (Japan) Super Aguri-Honda (23 laps); C Klien (Aut) RedBull Racing(30 laps); M Webber (Aus) Williams-Cosworth (41 laps); D Coulthard (GB) RedBull Racing (46 laps); N Rosberg (Ger) Williams-Cosworth (50 laps); K Raikkonen (Fin) McLaren-Mercedes (56 laps)

Championship standings: Drivers: 1 Alonso 18pts; 2= M Schumacher 11; 2= Button 11; 4 Fisichella 10; 5 Montoya 9; 6 K Raikkonen 6; 7 Massa 4; 8 Webber 3; 9= Rosberg 2; 9= Villeneuve 2; 11 R Schumacher 1; 12 Klien 1. Constructors: 1 Renault 28pts; 2 Ferrari 15; 3 McLaren-Mercedes 15; 4 Honda 11; 5 Williams-Cosworth 5; 6 BMW-Sauber 2; 7= Toyota 1; 7= RedBull Racing 1.

Sport
Alexis Sanchez has completed a £35m move to Arsenal, the club have confirmed
sportGunners complete £35m signing of Barcelona forward
Voices
Poor teachers should be fearful of not getting pay rises or losing their job if they fail to perform, Steve Fairclough, headteacher of Abbotsholme School, suggested
voicesChris Sloggett explains why it has become an impossible career path
Sport
world cup 2014
Sport
Popes current and former won't be watching the football together
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
News
Wayne’s estate faces a claim for alleged copyright breaches
newsJohn Wayne's heirs duke it out with university over use of the late film star's nickname
Arts and Entertainment
Celebrated children’s author Allan Ahlberg, best known for Each Peach Pear Plum
books
News
peopleIndian actress known as the 'Grand Old Lady of Bollywood' was 102
News
business
News
Mick Jagger performing at Glastonbury
people
Sport
Germany's Andre Greipel crosses the finish line to win the sixth stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 194 kilometers (120.5 miles) with start in Arras and finish in Reims, France
tour de franceGerman champion achieves sixth Tour stage win in Reims
Extras
indybest
Life and Style
beautyBelgian fan lands L'Oreal campaign after being spotted at World Cup
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Chocolat author Joanne Harris has spoken about the financial struggles most authors face
books
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily World Cup Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice
Hollywood targets Asian audiences as US films enjoy record-breaking run at Chinese box office

Hollywood targets Asian audiences

The world's second biggest movie market is fast becoming the Hollywood studios' most crucial
Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app - and my mum keeps trying to hook me up!'

Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app'

Five years on from its launch and Grindr is the world's most popular dating app for gay men. Its founder Joel Simkhai answers his critics, describes his isolation as a child
Autocorrect has its uses but it can go rogue with embarrassing results - so is it time to ditch it?

Is it time to ditch autocorrect?

Matthew J X Malady persuaded friends to message manually instead, but failed to factor in fat fingers and drunk texting