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Alonso makes bad luck good for Singapore F1 glory.

Fernando Alonso has returned Renault to the top of the rostrum in Formula 1 for the first time in almost two years by producing the drive of a champion to triumph in the inaugural Singapore Grand Prix night outing this weekend.

Indeed, it was a race of epic proportions in more ways than one, with Alonso's success the result of superb pace, a timely accident for team-mate Nelsinho Piquet and – ironically – the qualifying misfortune that had left him down in 15th place on the starting grid. Behind the Spaniard, Lewis Hamilton may only have finished third, but on Ferrari's darkest day of 2008 it was enough to put the Stevenage ace thoroughly in command of the title battle as the championship showdown closes in.

With Felipe Massa making a textbook getaway from pole position when the lights went out, Hamilton had to fight off defending F1 World Champion Kimi Raikkonen who dived to the inside, as all 20 cars got safely through the opening few corners. Hamilton's McLaren-Mercedes team-mate Heikki Kovalainen, however, was less fortunate, trying to brave it out around the outside of Robert Kubica's BMW-Sauber only to be unceremoniously bundled aside by the Pole as the pair briefly locked bodywork.

That cost the Finn positions to both Italian Grand Prix winner Sebastian Vettel in the Scuderia Toro Rosso and Timo Glock, and though he nipped by the Toyota into turn seven, Glock was immediately back past again into the very next corner.

Massa had extended a lead of almost 1.3 seconds by the end of the opening lap, with Raikkonen being dropped in third ahead of Kubica, Vettel, Glock and Kovalainen. A little further back still, Jarno Trulli had made a strong start in the second Toyota to gain two positions from eleventh to ninth, but with the Italian being on a heavy one-stop strategy, the old spectre of the 'Trulli Train' rapidly resurfaced.

Behind the 34-year-old sat a clearly frustrated Nico Rosberg, Kazuki Nakajima, a fast-starting Alonso – the only driver in the field to begin the race on soft tyres, as Renault seemed to be living up to Pat Symonds' post-qualifying promise of trying out an inventive strategy – Jenson Button, both Red Bulls of Mark Webber and David Coulthard and the STR of Sébastien Bourdais.

Despite a good deal of debris on the track, Rosberg was clearly trying every which way to get past Trulli, with Nakajima locking up behind and very nearly slamming into the back of his team-mate – what would undoubtedly not have gone down well during Sir Frank Williams' last grand prix appearance of the 2008 campaign – as the 'train' lapped regularly a full five seconds slower than race leader Massa.

Indeed, such was Massa's supreme pace that within just three laps Raikkonen was six full seconds in arrears, as Trulli began to go backwards, ceding places to both Williams' and Alonso, the Spaniard going all the way around the outside of his former team-mate at turn six to gain the inside line for turn seven and fairly scampering away.

With eight laps run and as the gap at the front ebbed and flowed, Raikkonen began to come alive, as Massa ran over one of the pieces of debris on the circuit that got lodged in the T-tray underneath the front of his car – but the pace just continued to get hotter and hotter still.



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Paul - Unregistered

September 28, 2008 3:52 PM

LATEST NEWS - FIA ENQUIRY Any one else heard anything about the rumour that the first 12 finishers are likely to receive a 36 second penalty.

racingbod - Unregistered

September 28, 2008 4:52 PM

STOP PRESS: FIA give Ferrari an actual penalty! Oh hold on, they only do it when they're last and have given up anyway. Alonso had a good dose of luck but he drove well anyway. i want to know where heikki was all afternoon? No excuses he was hopeless. As happy as i am for Nico how did it take the stewards 10 laps to make their decision when all year these penalties have been issued during the safety car periods? the consistency again is awful. he would have been no where if he had to pit within three laps of the SC going in. not sure why people say it was boring?! had plenty of overtakes and an uncertain finish right to the end. much better than valencia



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