Reuters: Fernando Alonso roared to a dominant victory in a highly strategic Chinese Grand Prix on Sunday to give Ferrari their first win of the Formula One season and put the pressure on champions Red Bull.
In a dry race dictated by tyre choices and frequent pit-stops, the Spaniard beat Lotus’s Kimi Raikkonen by 10.1 seconds to make amends for crashing out of the previous race in Malaysia.
Lewis Hamilton completed a trio of world champions on the podium with third place for Mercedes after the Briton started on pole position but was unable to hold off the red car looming in his mirrors.
“The team did a perfect job with the setup of the car,” Alonso said, now third in the overall standings on 43 points after three races, six points behind Raikkonen and nine adrift of Red Bull’s triple champion Sebastian Vettel. Ferrari cut Red Bull’s lead in the constructor’s standings to five points.
The win was Alonso’s second in China, where red is regarded as the colour of good fortune and his first since Germany last July. It was also the 31st victory of his career, taking him to fourth in the all-time list alongside Britain’s 1992 champion Nigel Mansell.
“It was a fantastic race for us from the start. There were no big problems and the tyre degradation was better than expected. It feels great,” the double champion said after a battle involving four different leaders in the first seven laps.
“In the two races we’ve finished we have got second place and victory so our start of the 2013 season is very good.”
Raikkonen had started second on the grid but made a painfully slow getaway and was immediately passed by both Ferraris as the field engulfed him.
The Finn fell to fourth spot before battling back through the many pit-stops and despite breaking his car’s nose after being forced wide on to the kerb while trying to pass McLaren’s Sergio Perez.
“What the hell is he doing,” the ‘Iceman’ shouted over the radio in an uncharacteristically heated moment.
Vettel finished fourth, just 0.2 behind Hamilton after a thrilling chase to the chequered flag that was a highlight of an afternoon that saw drivers more often pacing themselves rather than racing flat out.