Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso hailed his victory in yesterday’s Malaysian Grand Prix as one of the sweetest of his career.
The double world champion drove magnificently in wet conditions to score his 28th race win and relieve the pressure on Ferrari. The Maranello-based team has faced criticism in its homeland for the lack of competitiveness shown by this year’s car during pre-season testing and the first race in Australia.
There can be no doubt that the wet conditions aided Ferrari’s cause. Alonso qualified ninth for the race, but moved up to fifth by the ninth lap, when the race was halted due to the intensity of the rain.
When the event restarted, it wasn’t long before the entire field came into the pits to change from rain tyres to intermediates.
Up until this point, the McLarens of Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button had run first and second, having annexed the front row of the grid in qualifying, but now the race began to turn against the British duo.
Hamilton lost vital seconds with a slow tyre change, and Button damaged his front wing after tangling with the HRT of Narain Karthikeyan on his first lap out of the pits.
That left Alonso out in front of Sauber’s Sergio Perez, who was the star of the race. The young Mexican had climbed to third place in the first portion of the event after making a shrewd early switch to full wet tyres.
Now on intermediate tyres, he began to eat into Alonso’s lead as the circuit began to dry out. The leaders moved onto slick tyres for the final stint of the race, but Perez continued to close on the Ferrari ahead. He was less than a second behind he received a message via the pits-to-car radio to remind him how essential it was for Sauber – which has an engine supply deal with Ferrari – to collect a big haul of points.