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Raikkonen storms to victory in Malaysia 23 Mar 2008

Robert Kubica (POL) BMW Sauber F1 and race winner Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Ferrari on the podium.
Malaysian Grand Prix, Rd 2, Race, Sepang, Malaysia, Sunday, 23 March 2008 Heikki Kovalainen (FIN) McLaren on the podium.
Malaysian Grand Prix, Rd 2, Race, Sepang, Malaysia, Sunday, 23 March 2008 Jarno Trulli (ITA) Toyota TF108 suffers in parc ferme.
Malaysian Grand Prix, Rd 2, Race, Sepang, Malaysia, Sunday, 23 March 2008 Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari F2008 spins out of the race.
Malaysian Grand Prix, Rd 2, Race, Sepang, Malaysia, Sunday, 23 March 2008. © Sutton Images Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari F2008 leads at the start of the race.
Malaysian Grand Prix, Rd 2, Race, Sepang, Malaysia, Sunday, 23 March 2008

If Australia was a nightmare for Ferrari, Malaysia was a dream. Kimi Raikkonen toyed initially with polesitting team mate Felipe Massa, took the lead after their first pit stops, and sauntered into the distance to a victory that puts him back into contention for a second world title.

Massa blotted his copybook by spinning out of an easy second place on the 31st lap, leaving Robert Kubica to take an excellent runner-up result for BMW Sauber. In the closing laps, though 22 seconds adrift, the Pole set a similar pace to Raikkonen.

Heikki Kovalainen was McLaren’s leading runner in a distant third place, a similar distance in arrears.

For Lewis Hamilton, it was a race spent playing catch-up. He made a great start to jump from ninth up to fifth place behind the Ferraris, Kubica and similarly fast-starting Mark Webber in the Red Bull. But then a problem with the right-front wheel during his first pit stop dropped him down to 11th place, and he lost time hand over fist in the traffic.

That enabled Jarno Trulli to come through to a good fourth place for Toyota, with Hamilton dogging his wheel tracks after a great recovery drive. The truth, however, was that this time out Ferrari were stronger, and the pace of BMW Sauber will have both top teams keeping a close eye on the white and blue cars.

Nick Heidfeld set fastest lap in the closing stages as he thirsted after Hamilton, while Webber was able to hold off a challenging Fernando Alonso in the Renault as they wrapped up the final points.

David Coulthard had a relatively quiet race to ninth in the second Red Bull ahead of fellow Briton, Jenson Button, who survived a late off-track moment in his Honda to lead home Renault’s Nelson Piquet, the Brazilian rookie recording his first Grand Prix finish.

Giancarlo Fisichella was 12th for Force India, a lap down, taking the place after Honda’s Rubens Barrichello had to serve a drive-through penalty for pit lane speeding.

The final finishers were Nico Rosberg, who had a most unhappy time in his Williams, the Super Aguris of Anthony Davidson and Takuma Sato, and Kazuki Nakajima who, like Rosberg, could not generate decent tyre temperatures in his Williams FW30.

Toro Rosso’s Sebastien Bourdais was the first retirement, falling off on the opening lap. Rosberg clobbered Timo Glock then, too, necessitating a pit stop for a new nose cone. The Williams continued, the Toyota was through for the day. Adrian Sutil suffered a mechanical problem that stopped his Force India out on the track, while Sebastian Vettel suffered either engine or transmission failure that brought him to a smoky halt.

The result leaves Hamilton still leading the world championship for drivers with 14 points, ahead of Raikkonen and Heidfeld on 11 apiece. In the constructors’ chase, McLaren lead with 24, ahead of BMW Sauber on 19 and Ferrari on 11.