Alonso makes it two wins in a row in Japan

October 12, 2008

Renault’s Fernando Alonso took a superb victory in the Japanese Grand Prix as title rivals Lewis Hamilton and Felipe Massa collided in a dramatic race.

Hamilton made a poor start, ran off the road at the first corner and was tipped into a spin by Massa on lap two.

Both were given penalties for different incidents but Massa recovered to take seventh and cut Hamilton’s lead to five points with two races left.

Hamilton, his car damaged by Massa, was 12th and out of the points.

Massa finished eighth on the road, but was promoted to seventh when Toro Rosso’s Sebastien Bourdais was penalised 25 seconds, demoting him to 12th, for a collision with the Brazilian on lap 51.

Hamilton is still in a strong position but the Englishman will have to cut out the mistakes that have characterised his season if he is not to lose the championship for the second year in a row.

“What can I say? it was a bad day, I’ll move on to next week [in China],” said Hamilton.

“I went wide at turn one, it was a mistake, and then Felipe hit me off, I went on the inside and he broke left and hit me pretty hard.”  I cannot believe it right now and back-to-back wins is a great feeling – it is completely amazing

Massa is not Hamilton’s only title rival. BMW Sauber’s Robert Kubica  who finished second in Japan is 12 points off the lead and cannot be ruled out.

“Twelve points behind the leader with two races to go – anything can happen,” Kubica said.

Hamilton’s problems began at the very start of the race as he got off the line slowly from pole position in his McLaren and then went too far in trying to make amends at the first corner.

The move would earn Hamilton a penalty for forcing another car off the track, but it also demoted him to sixth place, right behind Massa.

The Englishman tried to pass the Ferrari into the Turn 10/11 chicane on the second lap and the two cars ended up colliding.

Massa was given his own penalty for causing that collision, and, once they had taken their drive-through penalties, the two title rivals ended up at the back of the field – with Massa a few seconds ahead.

Massa was penalised for this – but still cut Hamilton’s championship lead

The chaos among the drivers of the leading teams left Kubica in the lead but he lost it to Alonso when the Spaniard made his first pit stop a lap later than the Pole.

Alonso said he asked the team to get him out in front of Kubica but doing so meant he had four laps’ less fuel than the BMW for the middle stint of the race.

It was one of the Spaniard’s greatest races and secured him and Renault an unexpected second win in a row.

“We were second when we stopped for the first time and I wanted to exit the pits in front of Robert,” Alonso said.

Nelson Piquet finished fourth for Renault, with Toyota’s Jarno Trulli next, followed by the Toro Rossos of Bourdais and Sebastian Vettel and Massa.

Massa, the fastest man on the track in the closing stages of the race, lost ground in the incident with Bourdais but recovered to grab eighth on the road from Red Bull’s Mark Webber on the penultimate lap.

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