Disaster for Hamilton as Alonso wins Japanese GPOctober 12th, 2008 - 6:58 pm ICT by IANS
Fuji, Japan, Oct 12 (DPA) Fernando Alonso of Renault took his second race win in succession Sunday when the Spaniard claimed victory in an action-packed Japanese Formula One Grand Prix Sunday at the Fuji international Speedway.Robert Kubica of BMW-Sauber came in second with defending champion Kimi Raikkonen coming third in a Ferrari.
Nelson Piquet Jr completed Renault’s great day by taking fourth, followed by Toyota’s Jarno Trulli and the Toro Rossos of Sebastien Bourdais and Sebastian Vettel in sixth and seventh, respectively.
Championship leader Lewis Hamilton of McLaren-Mercedes finished out of the points down in 12th after incurring a drive-through penalty and also spinning following a clash with Ferrari’s Felipe Massa, his nearest rival for the drivers’ title.
Massa received a drive-through penalty of his own for the incident with Hamilton but still managed to finish in eighth place to cut the deficit to the McLaren driver by one point to six with just two races remaining.
Hamilton has 84 points ahead of next Sunday’s Chinese GP in Shanghai, followed by Massa on 78 with Poland’s Kubica six points further back in third.
“I think it’s a good boost for the last two races because we are still in the fight,” said Kubica.
Hamilton had a poor start from pole position, allowing second- placed Raikkonen to pass him before pushing the Ferraris of the Finn and Massa wide on turn one.
“I had nowhere to go and lost many places,” said Raikkonen afterwards.
The chaotic start also saw David Coulthard and Kazuki Nakajima collide, ending the Scot’s interest in the race, and when the dust settled Kubica found himself leading Alonso while Hamilton trailed in sixth.
“I was not really able to pull away, Fernando was keeping the gap,” said Kubica.
Meanwhile, Hamilton’s got worse on lap two as Massa clipped him as the McLaren driver looked to have passed the Ferrari at the hairpin, causing the Briton’s car to spin.
McLaren immediately opted for a one-stop strategy as Hamilton returned to the pits for new tyres and fuel, returning in last place.
While Raikkonen managed to make his way up to fourth place, passing Trulli on lap nine, McLaren’s situation deteriorated further.
With 51 laps remaining, Heikki Kovalainen retired due to engine problems and Hamilton received notice of a drive-through penalty from race stewards for forcing the Ferraris wide going into the opening corner.
Massa too was given his drive-through penalty for his collision with Hamilton, while Singapore GP winner Alonso returned from his pitstop ahead of Kubica to take over the race lead with Raikkonen now running third.
“In the second stint we managed to get some free air and the car handled really well,” said Alonso. “Part of the victory was in the second stint.”
Alonso pitted for the second and final time with 24 laps remaining but came out behind Bourdais, while Kubica pitted three laps later, briefly promoting Raikkonen to the position of race leader.
Raikkonen made his final stop with 19 laps to go, returning just behind Kubica while Massa continued his slow movement up the field to find himself in the points in eighth place.
Massa then clipped Bourdais as the Frenchman exited the pits to stall his progress while Kubica initially struggled to hold off Raikkonen who himself saw Piquet Jr in the second Renault looming in his mirrors.
“Once the tyres grained out I was able to pull away,” said Kubica.
Massa kept his nerve in the final stages, managing to snatch eighth spot from Red Bull’s Mark Webber, who was on a one-stop strategy, with three laps to go and set up a thrilling climax to the season.