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Alonso grabs China win on 'perfect Sunday'

updated 12:19 PM EDT, Sun April 14, 2013
Fernando Alonso celebrates after winning the Chinese Grand Prix Sunday.
Fernando Alonso celebrates after winning the Chinese Grand Prix Sunday.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Fernando Alonso won the Chinese Grand Prix Sunday
  • Lotus' Kimi Raikkonen finished second with Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton in third
  • World champions Sebastian Vettel came home fourth
  • Red Bull's Mark Webber handed three-place penalty for Bahrain Grand Prix

(CNN) -- Fernando Alonso hailed a "perfect Sunday" following his victory at the Chinese Grand Prix.

The Ferrari driver, who clinched his first win of the season after seeing off Lotus' Kimi Raikkonen and Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton, moved up to third in the drivers' standings following his success.

Alonso had not won in China since 2005, but the double world champion believes this latest triumph could be the sign of things to come for Ferrari ahead of next weekend's race in Bahrain.

Read: Hamilton on pole in Shanghai

Engines on, Formula 1 returns!
"Get him (Webber) out of the way, he is too slow," Sebastian Vettel disdainfully remarked over team radio at last month's Malaysia Grand Prix. The German was instructed not to challenge Webber, who was leading the race, but ignored orders and overtook the Australian with ten laps remaining. Vettel's tactics caused much consternation on social media and reopened the debate about the practicality of team orders in Formula 1. "Get him (Webber) out of the way, he is too slow," Sebastian Vettel disdainfully remarked over team radio at last month's Malaysia Grand Prix. The German was instructed not to challenge Webber, who was leading the race, but ignored orders and overtook the Australian with ten laps remaining. Vettel's tactics caused much consternation on social media and reopened the debate about the practicality of team orders in Formula 1.
Team orders: needless or necessary?
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Team orders: needless or necessary? Team orders: needless or necessary?
Formula One season off to a racing start

"It was definitely a fantastic race for us from start to end, without big problems with the car - a perfect Sunday," Alonso told reporters.

"The team did a perfect job with the set-up of the car for qualifying and the race, with perfect pit-stop times and the way they were executed.

"The victory is a good reward for the team, and well deserved after the disappointment in Malaysia. It feels great.

"With the two races we have finished this year, with a second place (in Australia) and the victory today, the start of this campaign is looking good.

"We are very optimistic, but we need to keep going like this in this direction, with good weekends, without any extra risk, and hopefully in Bahrain (next Sunday) we can again score some good points."

Alonso was desperate to bounce back after crashing out after just two laps of the Malaysian Grand Prix last time out.

Read: CNN's F1 Interactive

A second place in the opening race of the season in Australia and another assured performance in Shanghai has given those backing the Spaniard for the title cause for confidence.

"Every year, especially in Ferrari, especially every campaign you start people expect only wins from you, the World Championship," Alonso added.

"Every race is more or less the same. Every season I've started in Formula One, this is the 13th, there is a battle with teammates, always discussions.

The 2013 Formula One season
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F1: 2013 season preview F1: 2013 season preview
Monisha Kaltenborn, seen here at the German Grand Prix at Hockenheim in July 2011, is the first woman to become CEO and team principal of a Formula 1 team. Monisha Kaltenborn, seen here at the German Grand Prix at Hockenheim in July 2011, is the first woman to become CEO and team principal of a Formula 1 team.
Monisha Kaltenborn
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Monisha Kaltenborn Monisha Kaltenborn
An unhappy Mark Webber, left, with Red Bull teammate Sebastian Vettel at the postrace press conference in Malaysia. An unhappy Mark Webber, left, with Red Bull teammate Sebastian Vettel at the postrace press conference in Malaysia.
Vettel defies team orders
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Vettel defies team orders Vettel defies team orders

"So this year is no different. I think pressure is always there sometimes. As I said, you can deliver a good result, everyone is happy.

"Sometimes you cannot do it and you need to improve. I think we've been working very hard this winter with the team and after the first two races as well.

"These three weeks were very useful for us in Maranello, working out a little bit which way we can perform a little bit better, especially in qualifying which is one of our problems.

"I'm very happy with the job done and I'm in the best team, so I should be confident that everything will go in the right direction."

Read: Fast track to driver road rage?

While Alonso's performance grabbed the attention, it was another bad day for Red Bull, which was fined $6,500 after the Australian's right-rear wheel came off during the race.

Webber, who was involved in a row with teammate Vettel after the German ignored team orders at the Malaysian Grand Prix, was forced out of the race after just 16 laps following a collision with Toro Rosso's Jean-Eric Vergne.

Webber had been ordered into the pits following the incident and the loss of his tyre on the track caused several cars to swerve in a bid to avoid a crash.

The Red Bull driver was then hit with a three place penalty for the Bahrian Grand Prix following the crash with Vergne -- an incident which he maintains wasn't his fault.

"I was coming from a reasonable distance behind, Jean-Eric was really wide, but when we came close to the apex he wanted to hit it, which he is entitled to do, but by then I was committed to the inside and the incident happened," he told reporters.

Sebastian Vettel celebrates with his team and admirers after a pulsating race at Interlagos in Brazil. But where does the Red Bull driver rank in the pantheon of F1's virtuosos? Sebastian Vettel celebrates with his team and admirers after a pulsating race at Interlagos in Brazil. But where does the Red Bull driver rank in the pantheon of F1's virtuosos?
Case for greatness
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How good is Sebastian Vettel? How good is Sebastian Vettel?
Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost were long-time rivals before they became teammates at McLaren. Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost were long-time rivals before they became teammates at McLaren.
Winning pair
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United in rivalry: Prost and Senna United in rivalry: Prost and Senna
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Senna vs. Fangio: Who is the greatest? Senna vs. Fangio: Who is the greatest?

"It was a couple of laps before our pit-stop window, so I had to come in early.

"The guys thought the tire was fixed when we left the stop, but it came off on the out lap. We have had a few problems this weekend; I think we could have done something from our start position today, but it wasn't meant to be."

Read: Raikkonen claims 'easy' victory

Raikkonen's second place sealed his 20th consecutive finish in Formula One -- although that statistic had looked in danger following a coming together with McLaren's Sergio Perez.

"I think in the end it was a pretty okay result," he told reporters.

"Obviously we want to win, but after a bad start the car was handling well.

"Overtaking Perez, I was next to him and he just pushed me on the kerb, but I tried to avoid him but I went on the grass and hit him on the rear I think and damaged the front.

"That didn't help but luckily it didn't affect so much the handling, it was just a bit too much under steer but we could still fight for second place.

"For sure without the damage we could have been quite a bit faster. Anyhow, good points and we try to do better next time."

One of the success stories of the day was that of Torro Rosso's Daniel Ricciardo, who claimed a seventh place finish and his first points of the year.

"I am really pleased to score my first points of the season and to confirm the qualifying performance," he told reporters.

"After yesterday afternoon I kept calm, knowing the real work would begin today. The last time I qualified this well was sixth in Bahrain last year and then I failed to score.

"So today, I really wanted to show people what I could do, so it's great for me to have had a great race but it's especially good for the team, who have worked so hard for this."

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