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Fisichella leads Renault to one-two finish

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Last updated on: March 19, 2006 15:35 IST

Italian Giancarlo Fisichella won the Malaysian Grand Prix ahead of world champion Fernando Alonso on Sunday for Renault's first one-two finish in 24 years.

The 33-year-old Roman, who started on pole position, took his third career victory and first since last season's Formula One season-opener in Australia.

Fisichella finished 4.5 seconds ahead of his Spanish team mate, with Briton Jenson Button, still chasing his first career win after 102 grands prix, rounding out the podium for Honda.

It was the French manufacturer's first one-two since Frenchmen Rene Arnoux and Alain Prost did it in front of their home fans at Le Castellet in the turbo era of 1982.

"It was a tough race, physically and mentally, but...the car balance was just fantastic," said Fisichella, who paid his respects afterwards to a boyhood friend who died in an accident a week ago.

"It was an emotional weekend for me and it was important to do my best because I lost a friend of mine," he said. "I would like to dedicate the race to him. Ciao Pietro."

Alonso, who won the opening race in Bahrain last week, remains the championship leader with 18 points to the 11 of Ferrari's seven-times champion Michael Schumacher -- who finished seventh -- and Button.

"For me it's the perfect start to the championship," said Alonso. "Eighteen points in two races is what I dreamed of before Bahrain."


Colombian Juan Pablo Montoya was fourth for McLaren ahead of Ferrari's Felipe Massa, who started on the back row of the grid and was a beneficiary of German Nick Heidfeld's late engine failure.

The Brazilian outshone team mate Schumacher's run to sixth from 14th.

Jacques Villeneuve finished seventh to give the new BMW team their first points and Ralf Schumacher was eighth for Toyota after starting alongside Massa.

Finland's Kimi Raikkonen, last season's overall runner-up, crashed out of the race in the first lap after his McLaren was clipped by Christian Klien's Red Bull.

Fisichella made good start from pole at the hot and humid circuit outside Kuala Lumpur and only gave up his lead after the first round of pit stops, hitting the front again when Alonso pitted 13 laps from the end.

Button said he did his best: "There was no part of the race where we could have gone any quicker," he said. "That was the maximum I could get out of the car, we were on the limit in every lap. We've got a bit of work to do."

Raikkonen, winner seven times in 2005, lasted just a couple of corners before Klien made contact, the rear suspension failure sending the Finn crashing into the safety wall.

Five laps later, the impressive start to Nico Rosberg's Formula One career came to a spectacular halt when the engine of his Williams blew on lap six.

The German started poorly from third on the grid but had already overtaken compatriot Heidfeld and was running sixth.

"It started off as a fairy tale but I can't change the engine blow-up," said the 20-year-old, who recorded the fastest lap and finished seventh on his debut last week.

"What I can do is maybe improve my first lap performance because I had a bad start and had too much wheelspin."

Australian team mate Mark Webber also retired on lap 16.

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