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Alonso Wins Eventful Bahrain GP

Fernando Alonso proved he is World Championship material with an easy cruise to his second victory of the season when he out-classed the field in the Bahrain Grand Prix on Sunday

Alonso, who won the last race in Malaysia, finished comfortably ahead of second placed Jarno Trulli and lapped World Champion Ferrari's new car on the way to a dominant success.

Ferrari's charge proved pointless when World Champion Michael Schumacher dropped out of the race and his teammate Rubens Barrichello dropped out of the points by the chequered flag.

Ralf Schumacher finished fourth in the second Toyota and Spaniard Pedro de la Rosa, in for injured Juan Pablo Montoya, proved a strong replacement as he matched his best ever finish with fifth for McLaren.

Australian Mark Webber finished sixth for Williams, Brazilian Felipe Massa finished seventh for Sauber and Scot David Coulthard bumped Barrichello out the points in the dying laps to claim eighth.

The race was over before it began for Red Bull Racing driver Christian Klien as he stalled on the grid and failed to take the start as his team were unable to rectify the problem.

There were no problems for Alonso, however, as he shot into a clear lead at the start to leave Schumacher to the attentions of Trulli, who tried to pass around the outside of turn one.

He made it around but Schumacher held firm and held onto second place as they came out of the first complex then focussed his attentions on staying in touch with the lead Renault.

Behind the lead three Webber made it past Nick Heidfeld's Williams in a tight pack, Ralf Schumacher maintained sixth and de la Rosa dropped two places after being passed by Raikkonen and Giancarlo Fisichella.

Narain Karthikeyan retired his Jordan early on and Renault driver Fisichella soon fell into trouble when his engine emitted smoke on lap three and he retired in the pits on lap five.

Schumacher stayed within a second of Alonso at the front with Trulli and Webber holding station while Heidfeld and Ralf Schumacher enjoyed a duel, which the latter won to lay claim to fifth place.

But Alonso's job became a whole lot easier on lap 12 when Schumacher, who had closed right up to the Renault's rear end, locked his brakes heading into turn ten and missed the corner.

He returned to the track but cruised around for the rest of the lap before returning to the pits and pulling into his Ferrari garage for his second retirement of the season.

That left Alonso 3.1 seconds clear of Trulli at the front with Webber a further 12.3 seconds back in third and Ralf Schumacher just 1.2 seconds behind the Williams and chasing the final podium spot.

Ralf Schumacher was the first front-running driver to pit on lap 18 before leader Alonso pitted at the end of lap 20 as de la Rosa succumbed to pressure from BAR-Honda driver Takuma Sato, went wide and dropped to ninth.

Trulli and Webber were in the pits from first and second respectively one lap later and both came out behind Alonso, who regained the lead, with Heidfeld and Raikkonen now second and third but both yet to stop.

Heidfeld and de la Rosa pitted at the end of lap 23 as Ralf Schumacher made a mistake in his Toyota and ran wide. Raikkonen stayed out one more lap and pitted at the same time as Button.

That left Sato and Barrichello, who had fuelled up for the first stint, as the only two in the top eight left to pit but both came in at the end of lap 25 and Barrichello came out ahead.

Heidfeld saw his hopes disappear with an engine failure as he completed his 25th lap of the race and he cruised around with a plumes of smoke trailing off the back of his car before parking up at the side of the track at turn five.

Sato then suffered an apparent brake disk problem on lap 27 and went off track at turn one then spun again at turn ten before he pulled into the pits to post another retirement.

By lap 28, with all the first stops completed, Alonso had a lead of 7.1 seconds over Trulli with Webber 28.2 seconds behind in third and Raikkonen a further 2.4 seconds back in fourth.

De la Rosa passed Button for seventh on lap 33 and on the next lap Webber saw a possible podium slip away when he lost the back end of his car and spun in a plume of smoke at high speed at turn ten and dropped to fifth.

Raikkonen was 33.8 seconds off the leader Alonso and lost more time, although not a position, when he ran wide and locked his brakes on the run-off area of turn 13 on lap 36.

De la Rosa had by now closed on the back of Barrichello's Ferrari as by the end of the 37th lap and he had a go into turn one at the start of lap 38 but failed to make it stick and ran wide.

Alonso started the final round of stops at the end of lap 41 and de la Rosa passed Barrichello for sixth place at the last corner before those two finished the same lap more than a minute later.

Ralf Schumacher stopped on the same lap, Trulli pitted on lap 42 along with Webber and Raikkonen came in one lap later to leave the top three in the same order to close out the race.

Button passed Barrichello for sixth place on lap 44 as the Ferrari continued to drop down the field and de la Rosa stopped at the end of that lap then the BAR and Ferrari pair pitted the following lap.

Button stalled his car on his stop to allow Barrichello back past and he eventually got going after more than a minute when the team resorted to a push-start having failed to get the starter jack to fit.

His return to the race did not last long, however, and he parked up at the end of the pitlane to face the frustrating walk back to the pits with BAR still to get a car to the finish this season.

Up front Alonso now had an easy cruise to the finish with Trulli 12.8 seconds behind with nine laps to go while Raikkonen had a 14.4 second cushion on fourth-placed Ralf Schumacher.

Webber passed de la Rosa for fifth and was forced to hold off the hassling Spaniard as the race headed to a close and Massa pushed Barrichello down to eighth with six laps to go.

To add insult to injury Alonso put the new Ferrari a lap down with five laps remaining while the thrilling duel between Webber and de la Rosa ended with the McLaren driver coming out on ahead.


The Bahrain Grand Prix
Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain;
57 laps; 308.769km;
Weather: Sunny, Dry.


Pos  Driver        Team                  Time        
 1.  Alonso        Renault          (M)  1h19.18.531
 2.  Trulli        Toyota           (M)  +    13.409
 3.  Raikkonen     McLaren-Mercedes (M)  +    32.063
 4.  R.Schumacher  Toyota           (M)  +    53.272
 5.  de la Rosa    McLaren-Mercedes (M)  +  1:04.988
 6.  Webber        Williams-BMW     (M)  +  1:14.701
 7.  Massa         Sauber-Petronas  (M)  +     1 lap
 8.  Coulthard     Red Bull-Cosworth(M)  +     1 lap
 9.  Barrichello   Ferrari          (B)  +     1 lap
10.  Monteiro      Jordan-Toyota    (B)  +    2 laps
11.  Villeneuve    Sauber-Petronas  (M)  +    3 laps
12.  Friesacher    Minardi-Cosworth (B)  +    3 laps
13.  Albers        Minardi-Cosworth (B)  +    4 laps

Fastest Lap: de la Rosa, 1:31.447

Not Classified/Retirements:

Driver        Team                   On Lap
Button        BAR-Honda         (M)    49
Sato          BAR-Honda         (M)    28
Heidfeld      Williams-BMW      (M)    26
M.Schumacher  Ferrari           (B)    12
Fisichella    Renault           (M)     5
Karthikeyan   Jordan-Toyota     (B)     3
Klien         Red Bull-Cosworth (M)    DNS

World Championship Standing, Round 3:                

Drivers:                   Constructors:             
 1.  Alonso        26       1.  Renault            36
 2.  Trulli        16       2.  Toyota             25
 3.  Fisichella    10       3.  McLaren-Mercedes   19
 4.  Coulthard      9       4.  Williams-BMW       13
 5.  R.Schumacher   9       5.  Red Bull-Cosworth  12
 6.  Barrichello    8       6.  Ferrari            10
 7.  Montoya        8       7.  Sauber-Petronas     2
 8.  Webber         7       
 9.  Raikkonen      7       
10.  Heidfeld       6       
11.  de la Rosa     4       
12.  Klien          3       
13.  M.Schumacher   2       
14.  Massa          2       
All timing unofficial

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