Alonso Adds Another First to his List

Fernando Alonso added another highlight to a list of precocious achievements on Sunday by becoming the first Spaniard to lead the Formula One Championship

Alonso Adds Another First to his List

The 23-year-old Renault driver's Malaysian Grand Prix victory came at the same steamy Sepang circuit where two years ago he took his place in the record books as the youngest pole-setter. Although Alonso did not win that humid afternoon, finishing third, he laid down a clear marker of where he was heading.

That same year he triumphed in Hungary, becoming the youngest winner in Grand Prix history at 22 years and 27 days as well as the first Spaniard to succeed. On Sunday, moving six points clear of Italian teammate Giancarlo Fisichella in the standings after two races, he stepped up another level.

"It is a fantastic feeling not just to be the first Spaniard but also to be the first in the Championship," he declared after his podium celebrations. I think to lead the World Championship in Formula One is a dream for any young driver and I reached this at 23 years old and I now only need to finish in this position."

Career Best

"We are in the best position I have been in in my career to win the championship," continued Alonso, who can yet become the youngest champion.

While champions Ferrari are struggling, at least until they introduce their new car, the Renault is clearly going to be quick in all conditions while Alonso is brimming with confidence. At the Australian season-opener on March 6, he was exceptional in rocketing from 13th on the grid to third place.

He did not need to perform any heroics at Sepang but, with a malfunctioning water bottle, his was still an impressive drive in what is likely to be the hottest race of the year.

"I saved the tyres a little bit at the beginning, thinking that maybe the first stint was maybe the most risky time for the rear tyres," he said.

"The last stint was just low revs and saving tyres again. I wasn't pushing really hard in any part of the race," added the Spaniard, whose biggest concern was reliability as Formula One entered uncharted territory.

New rules have doubled the distance engines must run - two successive Grands Prix - while one set of tyres must last for qualifying and the race. Nobody knew for sure how their cars would cope.

"The last 15 or 20 laps were very long and the same for everybody here in Sepang, or maybe more if you are in P1 (leading)," said Alonso.

"You are very close to winning the race, it's the second race for the engine and for the car and you are a little bit worried, obviously. But everything was perfect and the team again showed that we are the team to beat."

 

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