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Malaysian GP - Ferraris Win Number One

Sepang, 23rd March - Kimi Raikkonen scored a very convincing victory in the Malaysian Grand Prix, while what should have been a one-two finish for Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro was not to be, as Felipe Massa spun out of a safe second place on lap 31 of the 55 lap race.

The threat of rain and wind evaporated, unlike the perspiration in the very humid conditions and when the lights went out, the two Ferrari men had quite a fight heading for the first corner, but in the end and with the advantage of starting from pole position, Massa got the upper hand. Raikkonen was in close attendance and the Finn was followed by the BMW-Sauber of Robert Kubica, the Red Bull-Renault of Mark Webber and Jarno Trulli in the Toyota. Sixth and seventh on the opening lap were the McLaren duo of Lewis Hamilton and Heikki Kovalainen. These unusually low positions came courtesy of the Stewards who, late on Saturday night, decided that the McLaren duo had impeded another driver in the final stages of Qualifying and were thus penalised with a five place drop on the grid.

Robert Kubica, Stefano Domenicali, Kimi Raikkonen and Heikki Kovalainen
The gap between the two F2008s expanded, but only slightly, but they were comfortably clear of the field in the early stages. One of the most exciting moves came on lap 5, when Heidfeld's BMW joined Coulthard's Red Bull and Alonso's Renault, all three men running in line abreast on this very wide track. The German and the Spaniard both got ahead of the Scotsman, the last two touching wheels. By this stage, Felipe put in a few fastest laps to lead Kimi by 1.7s on lap 5 and 2 whole seconds a lap later. Nakajima in the Williams-Toyota had gone from 22nd and last to 14th by lap 8, when it was Raikkonen's turn to set a fastest lap. From here onwards the two team-mates traded fastest times, as attention centred on Hamilton's attempts to pass Webber for fourth spot.

Raikkonen inherited the lead when Massa pitted at the end of lap 16, stopping for 8.5 seconds. Next time round the Finn's stop was slightly quicker and this was enough for him to emerge from the pit lane just ahead of the Brazilian, so they were now second and third behind Kubica who had yet to stop. Any chance Hamilton had of a good finish ended when he had a problem in his first pit stop.

Felipe Massa
As the race moved into its second half, the Ferrari duo seemed to have everything under control, until Felipe spun off at Turn 7 on lap 31 and was unable to get out of the gravel. The Brazilian admitted to clipping the kerb one corner before he went off, so the team is currently checking the car to see if this might have caused his exit from the race. On lap 35, Kimi's lead over Kubica was over half a minute and he made a trouble free 8.5 second final stop for fuel and tyres on lap 38, which allowed Kubica to lead again until the Pole made his own stop. Hamilton's race long pursuit of Webber paid off in the final stages and then the Australian came under pressure from Alonso, managing to hold him off to the flag. After fifty five laps, Kimi duly buzzed the Ferrari pit wall in celebration of his first win of the year, followed home by Kubika and Kovalainen on the podium, with the remaining points going to Trulli, Hamilton, Heidfeld, Webber and Alonso. Kimi is now second in the Drivers' Championship on 11 points, three behind Hamilton. In the Constructors' table, McLaren-Mercedes are on 24, with BMW-Sauber second on 19, eight ahead of Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro.

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