Race report - an emotional first win for Raikkonen 23 Mar 2003
Once again the McLaren team has turned a disappointing qualifying performance into a race victory. A fortnight ago in Australia David Coulthard took the flag. In Malaysia, the honour went to his young team-mate, Kimi Raikkonen. On the pitwall, watching his young protégé take his debut win, McLaren team principal Ron Dennis was seen to be close to tears.
Raikkonen started in seventh place, but an accident on the second corner (as Michael Schumacher collided with Jarno Trulli) helped to promote him up the order. Team-mate David Coulthard suffered a mechanical failure on lap two and retired from second place, leaving to Raikkonen the task of chasing Fernando Alonso's Renault. But after Alonso, Raikkonen and Rubens Barrichello had made their first pit stops, it was the young Finn emerged in the lead - a position he held for the rest of the race.
"I don't think it will sink in until later," he told the post-race press conference, before paying tribute to the team. "We have put so much effort in over the winter. It is so good for us."
Team boss Ron Dennis told reporters: "the first win is incredibly important for a race driver." Asked if he had shed a tear on the pitwall as he watched Kimi cross the line he replied "almost."
The win puts McLaren further ahead in the Constructors' Championship, with Kimi leading the Drivers' Championship.