Alonso Wins in China, Renault Champions

Fernando Alonso ended his World Championship winning year on a high in Shanghai when he led from start to finish to score his seventh win of the season in the Chinese Grand Prix on Sunday

Alonso Wins in China, Renault Champions

Spaniard Alonso's comfortable victory equalled the number scored by title rival Kimi Raikkonen this season and helped Renault secure their first ever championship success as a constructor.

Alonso started from pole and despite two safety car periods that could have worked against him he was able to stay ahead of Raikkonen as Renault appeared to match McLaren for pace.

Alonso's teammate Giancarlo Fisichella played a key role in holding up Raikkonen for much of the race but he lost a probable podium finish when he was punished for overly overt blocking tactics late in the race.

The final place on the podium went, instead, to Ralf Schumacher, who secured his second podium finish for Toyota after holding off a charging Fisichella in the closing laps of the race.

With second McLaren driver Juan Pablo Montoya out midway through the race due to apparent damage from running over a drain cover the constructors' crown went to Renault by nine points.

Christian Klien marked the end of Red Bull Racing's first season with a solid fifth place finish and Ferrari-bound Felipe Massa secured sixth in the final race for the Sauber team before they become BMW next year.

Mark Webber claimed seventh place for Williams and Jenson Button secured the final point of the race for BAR-Honda to extend his impressive run of consecutive points-scoring finishes to 10.

Tiago Monteiro handed Jordan an 11th place finish in their final race before they are re-named Midland and Robert Doornbos and Christijan Albers were both classified as retired on the last lap of the team's final Grand Prix.

The race was a disaster for Ferrari driver Michael Schumacher, who collided with Albers in a bizarre incident on their out-lap half an hour before the race and he spun out before half distance.

Schumacher had slowed due to a suspected gearbox problem and Albers collided with the outgoing World Champion, damaging the front right suspension on his Minardi and scattering debris over the track.

Both Schumacher and Albers headed to the pitlane exit for their start as the cars headed off on their parade lap and Narain Karthikeyan shot straight in for a fuel stop in his Jordan before the race began.

When the red lights went out Alonso made a clean break for the first corner and Fisichella fended off Raikkonen, who tried to go around the outside, to hold onto second.

Montoya passed Jenson Button's BAR for fourth and David Coulthard slotted into the sixth position left vacant by Schumacher as Takuma Sato rocketed down the outside of the straight after jumping the start in his BAR-Honda.

Alonso sped into the distance as Fisichella held the two McLarens up behind him, Renault playing obvious team tactics in an effort to secure the easiest route to winning the constructors' title.

Sato was called in for a drive-through penalty for his early start but the order remained status quo at the front with Alonso almost 20 seconds ahead of Fisichella by lap 18.

But Alonso's advantage dropped to nothing when the safety car was deployed because of drain cover damage after Montoya had run over a piece of the drain sticking up on the kerb at turn ten.

Montoya pitted to change a tyre then all the drivers except Michael Schumacher rushed in for their first fuel stops, with Montoya coming in a second time for fuel because he was not allowed to fill up when he changed the tyre.

Schumacher's terrible day came to an end in the gravel when he spun out of the race at turn eight while it was being run under the safety car and he was left to walk away despondently with 22 laps completed.

The safety car came in at the end of lap 24 and Alonso set off to build his advantage again as Fisichella slowed to hold up Raikkonen and Montoya's problems from the preceding incident forced him to pull into the garage to retire.

That handed Schumacher third place in the drivers' championship, behind title winner Alonso and second-placed Raikkonen, and put McLaren's hopes for the constructors' crown in serious jeopardy.

On lap 30 the safety car came out again after Karthikeyan went wide and smashed into a tyre barrier, ripping off the front, rear and both sides of his Jordan car and spinning back out into the middle of the track.

Karthikeyan remained in his stricken car with little movement but eventually pulled himself out and ran to the side of the track as marshals extinguished the small flames licking around the car.

The top four of Alonso, Fisichella, Raikkonen and Barrichello all pulled into the pits for their second fuel fill and Raikkonen was able to make it past Fisichella with a fast stop from the McLaren crew.

The safety car came in again on lap 34 leaving leader Alonso ahead of Ralf Schumacher, Massa and Klien, who had all chosen not to stop under the safety car, and Raikkonen down in fifth ahead of Barrichello and Webber.

Sato slowed and stopped at the side of the track at turn seven to end his career with BAR-Honda on a low note as he became the fourth retirement of the race after Michael Schumacher, Montoya and Karthikeyan.

Webber pressured Barrichello into a mistake on lap 44 and the Ferrari driver had a big lock-up at turn 14 and ran wide, allowing both Webber and Button through as Massa pitted from fourth.

Barrichello lost a place to Coulthard one lap later at the same corner as Klien pitted from third then Ralf Schumacher pitted on lap 47 promoting Raikkonen to second place with a 9.4-second gap to chase in the final nine laps.

Fisichella was handed a drive-through penalty for obstructive driving in the pit lane entry, a rule that was clarified after Montoya slowed the field during a safety car period in Belgium.

The Italian came through the pits at the end of lap 52 and returned to the track just behind Ralf Schumacher in fourth place

PROVISIONAL RACE RESULTS

The Chinese Grand Prix
Shanghai International Circuit, China;
56 laps; 305.256km;
Weather: Sunny.

Classified:

Pos  Driver        Team                  Time        
 1.  Alonso        Renault          (M)  1h39:53.618
 2.  Raikkonen     McLaren-Mercedes (M)  +     4.015
 3.  R.Schumacher  Toyota           (M)  +    25.376
 4.  Fisichella    Renault          (M)  +    26.114
 5.  Klien         Red Bull-Cosworth(M)  +    31.839
 6.  Massa         Sauber-Petronas  (M)  +    36.400
 7.  Webber        Williams-BMW     (M)  +    36.842
 8.  Button        BAR-Honda        (M)  +    41.249
 9.  Coulthard     Red Bull-Cosworth(M)  +    44.247
10.  Villeneuve    Sauber-Petronas  (M)  +    59.977
11.  Monteiro      Jordan-Toyota    (B)  +  1:24.648
12.  Barrichello   Ferrari          (B)  +  1:32.812
13.  Pizzonia      Williams-BMW     (M)  +     1 lap
14.  Doornbos      Minardi-Cosworth (B)  +     1 lap
15.  Trulli        Toyota           (M)  +     1 lap
16.  Albers        Minardi-Cosworth (B)  +    4 laps

Fastest Lap: Raikkonen, 1:33.242

Not Classified/Retirements:

Driver        Team                  On Lap
Sato          BAR-Honda        (M)    35
Karthikeyan   Jordan-Toyota    (B)    29
Montoya       McLaren-Mercedes (M)    25
M.Schumacher  Ferrari          (B)    23


World Championship Standing, Round 19:                

Drivers:                    Constructors:             
 1.  Alonso       133        1.  Renault          191
 2.  Raikkonen    112        2.  McLaren-Mercedes 182
 3.  M.Schumacher  62        3.  Ferrari          100
 4.  Montoya       60        4.  Toyota            88
 5.  Fisichella    58        5.  Williams-BMW      66
 6.  R.Schumacher  45        6.  BAR-Honda         38
 7.  Trulli        43        7.  Red Bull-Cosworth 34
 8.  Barrichello   38        8.  Sauber-Petronas   20
 9.  Button        37        9.  Jordan-Toyota     12
10.  Webber        36       10.  Minardi-Cosworth   7
11.  Heidfeld      28       
12.  Coulthard     24       
13.  Massa         11       
14.  Villeneuve     9       
15.  Klien          9       
16.  Monteiro       7       
17.  Wurz           6       
18.  Karthikeyan    5       
19.  de la Rosa     4       
20.  Albers         4       
21.  Friesacher     3       
22.  Pizzonia       2       
23.  Liuzzi         1       
24.  Sato           1       
       
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