Renault on different course than Ferrari

It can't get much better for Fernando Alonso and Renault - two wins and a second place for Alonso; three straight wins for Renault.

updated: February 25, 2007 11:39 IST
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After three races of the Formula One season, it can't get much better for Fernando Alonso and Renault - two wins and a second place for Alonso; three straight wins for Renault. It can't get much worse for Michael Schumacher and Ferrari. They saw steadily declining performances that culminated in both cars crashing out of Sunday's Australian Grand Prix. Alonso and the others now have a three-week break before the next race, the San Marino Grand Prix on April 21. While other teams have had a good race here and there, Alonso and Renault have been consistently strong. Alonso has 28 points of a possible 30 thanks to victories in Bahrain and Australia and a runner-up finish behind teammate Giancarlo Fisichella in Malaysia. While others made mistakes around him Sunday, Alonso led virtually all the way. He overtook pole-sitter Jenson Button of Honda with a perfectly timed move at the end of the third lap. Alonso held off Kimi Raikkonen on Sunday to win his 10th career victory while Toyota driver Ralf Schumacher finished third ahead of Nick Heidfeld and Fisichella. Button appeared to be headed for fifth when his engine caught fire with two turns remaining in the race, and he coasted to a stop just meters from the finish. Although he won by 1.8 seconds, Alonso led Raikkonen by as much as 25 seconds. Diminished hopes The safety car made four appearances and 10 drivers made premature exits as cool conditions as the Albert Park circuit made it difficult for tires to maintain their temperature and adhesion. "I didn't understand some moments of the race, when I was maybe 20 seconds ahead and the gap disappeared after three or four safety cars in 10 laps,'' Alonso said. "But I think the car was perfect. There wasn't any risk of losing victory at any time so I was quite confident.'' Not so with Ferrari, which thought Saturday's qualifying was bad. That was until the race. Both Ferraris were eliminated without completing 33 laps between. Michael Schumacher drove nearly all of them after Felipe Massa didn't make it through the second turn. Schumacher, the seven-time world champion, clipped a curb and lost control, unbalancing the car and ending in the wall. He blamed his tires' lack of grip, while Massa got trapped between two cars and then pinged off others. Ferrari's results have diminished hopes after a promising start. It was 1-2 in qualifying at the Bahrain season-opener and Schumacher finished runner-up in the race, giving the German optimism. But Ferrari finished fifth and sixth in Malaysia, after Massa crashed in qualifying and Schumacher not even making it to the final qualifying session on Saturday. Ferrari will be glad to get back to the European tracks it knows better. (AP)