Formula 1: Giancarlo Fisichella wins Malaysian GP

Formula 1: Giancarlo Fisichella wins Malaysian GP  
Filed under:
Motorsport, Renault
on 03/19/2006

Source: Renault F1

Giancarlo Fisichella drove a faultless race to lead Fernando Alonso home for the second 1-2 in the history of the Renault F1 Team in today’s Malaysian Grand Prix.

Giancarlo’s third career win came after the Italian drove a perfect race in the blisteringly hot conditions in Malaysia. Leading from pole position, he held first place into the first corner and never looked back. With team-mate Fernando Alonso making a superb start to run third after the first corner, having started seventh, the Renault F1 Team led all but a handful of laps.

The start of the race saw the front row combination of Fisichella and Button maintain their positions, with Alonso moving up to third. Mark Webber kept his fourth place, as his Williams team-mate Nico Rosberg slipped back to seventh. Into turn three however, one of the pre-race favorites, Kimi Raikkonen, appeared to be tagged from behind by the Red Bull of Christian Klien. 500 yards later, and Raikkonen’s race was over, as the damage sustained in the hit looked to have damaged his suspension. The Finn spun off into the gravel, the barrier, and out of the race.

Fisichella and Button stretched their lead at the head of the field over Alonso who was running heavy after a mistake in qualifying had seen the Spaniard running close to double the fuel he had intended to carry. Giancarlo was the first of the leaders to pit on lap 17, and by this time the field was already heavily depleted. To add to Raikkonen’s early departure, both Williamses were out with apparent engine blowups, and David Coulthard’s Red Bull had become stuck sixth gear before the Scot had parked it up.

Button led the race until he pitted himself on lap 20, leaving Alonso to inherit first place for six laps. The Spaniard was running heavy but soon had to come in for his first stop. And when he emerged from the pits, the normal running order had been preserved with Fisichella, Button and Alonso taking up the podium positions.

Incredibly, Felipe Massa was up to fourth having started 21st. The Ferrari driver was having less of a wild time than he’d enjoyed in Bahrain, and was making incredibly quick progress. His strong race was held back a touch when he was forced to make his only pitstop of the race at close to half distance. But the strong showing of both him and Michael Schumacher gave a picture of a Ferrari team who, while not quite up to their dominant form of the last few years, do at least seem to have moved past the doldrums of 2005.

With a third of the race remaining, Fisichella and Button took their final stops, both emerging behind their closest combatants for position… Fisichella behind Alonso, and Button behind Montoya, who had driven a solid but unspectacular race. Button was being held up by the McLaren driver, but Fisichella had a clear gap to Alonso. The Spaniard needed to make another pitstop, but as Giancarlo continued to put in faultless lap after faultless lap, the world champion just couldn’t pull out the gap he needed to be able to make a safe stop.

When the time finally came, Alonso’s stop was made with clinical efficiency. With Button held up behind Montoya before the Colombian finally came in for his stop, the champion was able to snatch second place from the Honda driver. But on the day, Fisichella had just been too good. He streaked away for the win, and although Fernando set the quickest lap of the race and started to pull the Italian back in during the final stage of the race, he eventually had to lift off to preserve his car.

Giancarlo took the win, dedicating it to his close friend Pietro Saitta who lost his life in an accident one week ago. Fernando came second to set up the first Renault F1 1-2 since 1982, with Jenson Button third. Montoya ran home fourth, with Felipe Massa an excellent fifth ahead of Ferrari team-mate Michael Schumacher sixth. Jacques Villeneuve took two well-deserved points for BMW in seventh, as Ralf Schumacher took the final point for Toyota.

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