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Alonso races to victory as Hamilton endures rotten afternoon

Latest update : 2008-10-12

Two-time world champion Fernando Alonso has secured his second successive Formula One victory in winning the Japanese Grand Prix. Massa cut Hamilton's lead in the World Championship to six points with two races remaining.

Fernando Alonso took full advantage of others' mistakes and misfortunes to claim his second successive victory on Sunday when he won the Japanese Grand Prix.
The Spaniard made the most of incidents and errors that wrecked the day for championship contenders Lewis Hamilton and Felipe Massa as he steered his Renault to the 21st win of his career, following his victory in Singapore.
He came home 5.2 seconds clear of second placed Pole Robert Kubica of BMW Sauber with defending drivers champion Finn Kimi Raikkonen third for Ferrari.
Brazil's Nelson Piquet was fourth in the second Renault ahead of Italian Jarno Trulli of Toyota and the two Toro Rossos of Frenchman Sebastien Bourdais and German Sebastian Vettel.
Hamilton failed to score a point for McLaren Mercedes after a drama-filled afternoon following a poor start from pole position and some impetuous moves. He eventually finished 12th.
But his main title rival Brazilian Felipe Massa of Ferrari also struggled through collisions, errors and penalties on his way to finishing eighth to claim a single point.
This reduced Hamilton’s lead to six points with two races remaining in China and Brazil.
Hamilton's team-mate Finn Heikki Kovalainen retired with a blown engine in the early stages.
In the constructors' championship, Ferrari jumped back into the lead with a six points cushion over McLaren.
When the lights went out, the start produced chaotic drama as Hamilton made a slow getaway and struggled to keep up with Raikkonen who pulled clear to lead as they surged towards the first corner.
Hamilton responded immediately by switching to the inside and attempting to pass the Finn under braking, but he was unable to make the corner and went off across the run-off area.
In the packed field behind him, there were bumps and collisions that led to Briton David Coulthard in his Red Bull and Japan's Kazuki Nakajima in a Williams going off, the Scot crashing heavily into the barriers.
Hamilton’s rush inside Raikkonen had taken the Finn off the track with him and this led to a stewards' investigation that resulted in a drive-through penalty for the championship leader.
As the field settled, Kubica was leading ahead of Alonso before further incidents arrived on lap two when Hamilton, in sixth, attacked and passed Massa who ran off the track and then collided with the Englishman's McLaren.
Massa's Ferrari spun Hamilton's car to a halt and left him stranded as the field streamed through with the Briton forced to wait and rejoin last with wrecked tyres.
Like Hamilton, Massa's actions were investigated and the stewards gave him a drive-through penalty. The incident also caused Hamilton to pit immediately for tyres.
As all this took place, the race unfolded with Kubica leading Alonso towards the first pit stops when the Spaniard took control.
Alonso delivered a rapid burst to establish his position before he pitted and once the lead had been passed to Trulli and then Bourdais, it was Piquet out in front.
On lap 28, Piquet finally made his first stop and Alonso regained the lead with a 7.8 seconds advantage.
By lap 30, Alonso was pulling clear and Massa was 12th and Hamilton 14th.
After his impetuous start, Hamilton was a long way from scoring any points and his only consolation was that Massa also struggled, although the Brazilian worked his way through the field to earn a valuable point.

Date created : 2008-10-12