Furious Button undone by engine failure

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The Independent Online

Jenson Button was seething after being robbed of a podium finish in the Malaysian Grand Prix, which saw his former team Renault rack up their second win of the season.

Jenson Button was seething after being robbed of a podium finish in the Malaysian Grand Prix, which saw his former team Renault rack up their second win of the season.

Fernando Alonso, who replaced Button at Renault for the 2003 season, dominated at Sepang to take the lead in the world championship from team-mate Giancarlo Fisichella.

But Button had to watch the action unfold from the pits after a third-lap engine failure denied him what would almost certainly have been third place.

Team-mate Anthony Davidson also pulled out with an identical problem on the same lap and Button was unhappy to see BAR-Honda suffer such an embarrassing exit.

He said: "I think it's pretty easy to say we would have been on the podium.

"Engineering an engine to do three laps is not hard. It's very annoying because we had pace. Two laps into the race and both guys out with engine problems is not good enough.

"The issue is something they could have solved quickly, they knew about it on Saturday but they couldn't do anything about it.

"It's disappointing. The biggest issue is we were quick and that's the annoying part of it.

"The only good thing we can take out of it is we had a good pace for two laps."

Button was never likely to have challenged Alonso, who strolled to his second grand prix win from pole position.

Alonso is the first Spaniard to lead the world championship and has no intention of losing top spot over the next 17 races.

"We need to take care of our car, our pace and performance now in these days while Ferrari are not so strong," he said. "We need to take first positions and the points.

"It is a fantastic feeling not just to be the first Spaniard to be first in the championship, but to lead the world championship in Formula One is a dream for any young driver.

"I have reached this when 23-years-old and I now only need to finish in this position in the championship."

But the former Minardi driver expects a backlash over the next few races from Renault's rivals, starting in Bahrain.

He added: "I think Ferrari and Michael Schumacher will be stronger opponents for everybody when they sort out the problems they have now.

"It will be more difficult for us. We are starting in a very strong position but we saw this weekend that Toyota, Williams and always McLaren and Ferrari are very strong and the competition is tough now.

"Bahrain was not a perfect place for us last year, so I think we will suffer a little bit, and then when we arrive in Europe I think it will also be tough because it has always been good for the other teams."

Alonso's title chances were helped at Sepang by Ferrari's lack of speed in the race.

Rubens Barrichello retired and world champion Michael Schumacher had to fight hard to claim seventh place, leaving him 14 points behind Alonso after two races.

The seven-time champion has called on Ferrari to take immediate action to restore him to the front of the grid before the next race in Bahrain in two weeks.

"Obviously the other teams were doing a better job in several areas - we have to improve in all those different areas," he said. "We can see that compared with the other teams our car is not the best.

"There's different areas in which we have to work, we know that, and we will do it successfully."

Schumacher's countryman Nick Heidfeld, driving a Williams, scored his first points of the season for third. Juan Pablo Montoya was fourth for McLaren while former team-mate Ralf Schumacher was fifth.

David Coulthard scored sixth for Red Bull to overtake Nigel Mansell as Britain's leading Formula One points scorer and team-mate Christian Klien rounded out the points.

But it was an embarrassing day for BAR-Honda, who saw both Jenson Button and Anthony Davidson retire with engine problems on lap three.

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