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.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmReview: A week late, Secret Cinema arrives as interactive screening goes Back to the Future
Travel
travel
Arts and Entertainment
Sydney and Melbourne are locked in a row over giant milk crates
artCultural relations between Sydney and Melbourne soured by row over milk crate art instillation
Arts and Entertainment
Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux play teeneage lovers in the French erotic drama 'Blue Is The Warmest Colour' - The survey found four times as many women admitting to same-sex experiences than 20 years ago
filmBlue Is The Warmest Colour, Bojack Horseman and Hobbit on the way
Arts and Entertainment
Preparations begin for Edinburgh Festival 2014
Edinburgh festivalAll the best shows to see at Edinburgh this year
News
Two giraffes pictured on Garsfontein Road, Centurion, South Africa.
i100
News
Kenny Ireland, pictured in 2010.
peopleBenidorm, actor was just 68
Environment
View from the Llanberis Track to the mountain lake Llyn
Du’r Arddu
environmentA large chunk of Mount Snowdon, in north Wales, is up for sale
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
News
Morrissey pictured in 2013
people
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices