Monday, September 1, 2003

F1 updates...Renault's Alonso wins Hungarian Grand Prix

BUDAPEST -- Fernando Alonso became the youngest Formula One winner in history after securing victory in the Hungarian Grand Prix on Sunday as world champion Michael Schumacher saw his lead in the world championship cut to one point.

Spaniard Alonso, who began racing for Renault at the start of this season, outpaced all the championship contenders to finish ahead of second-placed Finn Kimi Raikkonen and third-placed Colombian Juan Pablo Montoya.

His victory, at the age of 22 years and 26 days, put him ahead of New Zealander Bruce McLaren, who claimed his first win in the USA in 1959.

But while it was celebrations for Renault and Alonso, it was glum faces at Ferrari as the Italian giants saw Brazilian Rubens Barrichello retire in a high-speed crash and Schumacher manage to claim just one point for eighth place.

Montoya and Raikkonen are now just one and two points respectively behind Schumacher in a three-way fight for the title and Ralf Schumacher's fourth place helped move Williams eight points ahead of Ferrari in the constructors' world championship.

Scot David Coulthard finished fifth for McLaren to help the British team close to within six points of the Ferrari squad who were so impressively dominant last season.

Australian Mark Webber finished sixth for Jaguar after a strong drive from third on the grid while Italian Jarno Trulli's seventh place secured fourth in the championship for Renault.

Alonso had started from pole and made a clean break off the line as second-placed Ralf Schumacher and fourth-placed Montoya made slow get-aways on the dirty side of the track and dropped back.

Webber made it through to second with Barrichello moving to third as the two Williams grappled with Michael Schumacher before Ralf Schumacher lost out when he spun at turn two.

Cristiano Da Matta, who started from 15th on the grid, was pushed into the pitlane after failing to start but managed to get his Toyota out on track before the end of the first lap.

Raikkonen and Trulli both passed Barrichello on the third lap when he went straight on at the chicane after a failed passing attempt on Webber, who was slowing the field.

By the tenth lap, Alonso had built up a lead of 18.4 seconds on second-placed Webber while Schumacher, last but one at the end of the first lap, had already moved up to 11th place.

Canadian Jacques Villeneuve's run of bad luck continued with his seventh retirement in 13 races when he coasted to a halt in the pitlane after completing 14 laps in his BAR-Honda.

Barrichello survived a frightening crash when the rear left suspension on his Ferrari snapped and his tyre fell off at 290kmh under braking for the first corner.

His car, out of control, went straight on into the tyre barrier, but astonishingly, he was able to climb out and walk away with a thumbs-up gesture to the crowd.

"I was just a passenger," said Barrichello. "There was a suspension failure. I lost the brakes and there was nothing I could do about it. I just thank God that I am alright."

With the first round of stops completed, Alonso retained the lead with Raikkonen second, Webber third and Trulli fourth. Quick pit work allowed Montoya to pass Schumacher for fifth, while Ralf Schumacher was in the points.

Italian Giancarlo Fisichella was forced to walk back to the pits after completing 30 laps when he parked his Jordan at the side of the track at turn four following an engine failure.

On the same lap, Ralf Schumacher passed his Ferrari-driving brother Michael when the pair were slowed by Hungarian debutant Zsolt Baumgartner as they came up to lap him.

Alonso pitted for a second time at the end of lap 30 but retained the lead ahead of Raikkonen after slick pit work from his team left him stationary for just 6.9 seconds.

Frenchman Olivier Panis was forced to retire his Toyota on lap 34 when he failed to get away from his second pit stop and Baumgartner's home race came to an end two laps later when the engine in his Jordan failed.

Briton Justin Wilson was the next man to suffer an engine failure when the Cosworth in the back of his Jaguar expired on lap 44. German Heinz Harald Frentzen retired his Sauber four laps later.

Alonso made his final pit stop, his third in total, at the end of the 49th lap and, after being stationary for 7.7 seconds, he returned to the racetrack comfortably ahead of second-placed Raikkonen and on course for victory.

Montoya almost threw away third place when he spun on lap 63 but he collected it in time to stay ahead of team-mate Schumacher and retain his place alongside Alonso and Raikkonen on the podium.

Alonso's victory made him the eighth different winner from five different teams-- Ferrari, Williams, McLaren, Jordan and Renault--in 13 races this season and gave Renault their first victory since Alain Prost won in Austria in 1983. -- AFP

I wonder if my all-time fave F1 race, Michael Schumacher, is losing his streak...*hmm*

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