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Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (Sports Network) - Two-time Formula One world champion Fernando Alonso gave Ferrari a much-needed win by taking Sunday's Malaysian Grand Prix, a race stopped for nearly one hour due to heavy rain.
Moments before the start of the 56-lap Malaysian GP, rain began falling on the 3.44-mile (5.543-kilometer) Sepang International Circuit. All drivers began with intermediate tires. After the fifth lap, race officials deployed the safety car for the heavy downpour. The event then came to a halt a few laps later.
Just after pitting for a new set of tires, Alonso took over the lead while Sergio Perez from Sauber moved into second by lap 17. Alonso and Perez ran one-two from there on.
Perez challenged Alonso for the lead in the closing laps but ran wide off course heading into a turn and lost his momentum. Alonso went on to finish 2.2 seconds ahead of Perez to claim his 28th career F1 win.
"I think we maximized the potential that we had in our hands," Alonso said. "We were keeping calm in some strange conditions in the beginning, with the intermediate tires and then switching to the dry tires at the perfect moment. We had perfect pit stops. The team deserves this victory. It's a tough time for us at the moment, but this Sunday we will remember."
Alonso's win gave Ferrari a huge boost after the Italian team endured numerous performance and reliability issues with its car during recent pre-season testing. His teammate, Felipe Massa, finished almost one lap behind in 15th.
In last weekend's season-opening Australian Grand Prix, Alonso placed fifth while Massa finished 17th due to a late-race accident.
"The win was a big surprise today," Alonso said. "I think we were not competitive in Australia and not competitive here. Our goal for this race was to score as many points as possible. It was an unbelievable result and a great job by the team."
Alonso surpassed Jackie Stewart for fifth on F1's all-time race winners list. Michael Schumacher (91), Alain Prost (51), Ayrton Senna (41) and Nigel Mansell (31) have more victories than Alonso.
Perez became the first Mexican driver with a podium finish in F1 since Pedro Rodriguez did it in the 1971 Dutch Grand Prix.
"I was catching Fernando towards the end of the race, and I knew I had to do everything soon," Perez said. "All the sectors with high speed I was losing my front tires with a lot of deterioration going behind Fernando. Then I ran wide going quickly into a corner and touched the kerb. It was completely wet."
Perez gave Sauber its best finish ever in a F1 grand prix.
"I think the win was possible today, and the team did an incredible job," Perez added.
McLaren's Lewis Hamilton, the pole sitter, finished third, while Mark Webber from Red Bull and Lotus' Kimi Raikkonen rounded out the top-five. Hamilton also started and finished in the same position in Melbourne, Australia.
"I think we can be satisfied [with third]," Hamilton said. "Congratulations to Fernando and Sergio. They were fantastic, and it was very tough to catch them. We would have like to had more points this weekend, but I can't really complain to be on the podium for the second weekend in a row."
Double world champion Sebastian Vettel finished 11th and did not score a point for only the second time in the last 23 grand prix. The Red Bull driver had been running among the top-five for most of the race, but on lap 48, he suffered a punctured left-rear tire when he made contact with HRT's Narain Karthikeyan.
Jenson Button, who won the Australian GP, finished 14th after he also made contact with Karthikeyan earlier in the race.
Bruno Senna from Williams finished sixth, followed by Force India's Paul di Resta and Toro Rosso's Jean-Eric Vergne, who scored his first four points in just his second F1 start.
Di Resta's teammate, Nico Hulkenberg, and Schumacher from Mercedes completed the top-10.
With the win, Alonso moved atop the point standings. The Spaniard has accumulated 35 points so far, compared to 30 for Hamilton and Button's 25.
Vettel is now sixth in the rankings and trails the leader by 17 points.
03/25 09:06:58 ET
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