Ferrari roars back with fine win

Ferrari have bounced back to set the stage for a season-long duel with McLaren for Formula1 dominance - but insist they are taking nothing for granted after winning in Malaysia.

Ferrari have bounced back to set the stage for a season-long duel with McLaren for Formula1 dominance - but insist they are taking nothing for granted after winning in Malaysia.

The Italian team, which won Sunday's Grand Prix with a dominant performance by defending world champion driver Kimi Raikkonen, rebounded from a woeful first outing in Australia, where both of their cars failed to finish.

"We wanted to show the reaction of Ferrari," said team principal Stefano Domenicali. "So I'm very happy because we showed that the Ferari team can do a great job.

"I think the sense of relief is connected to the fact that we really showed our potential.

"We were strong all weekend, very good pace on all tyre specifications. And that, for us, is the main thing."

Raikkonen's classy drive was the Finn's second career win at the Sepang circuit and helped the team get past the debacle at Melbourne, their worst season start in 16 years.

But Domenicali was quick to point out that Ferrari was not taking anything away from McLaren, who opened the season with a win by British phenomenon Lewis Hamilton.

"After Australia, when everyone said McLaren were in another world, we said, 'OK, they had a great race'," Domenicali said.

"For sure, they didn't have a great weekend in terms of performance in Malaysia, but they will be very strong in Bahrain," he said.

Ferrari had started Sunday with visions of a one-two finish, with Felipe Massa on pole position and Raikkonen next to him, but the Brazilian spun out on lap 31.

The team said Massa hit a kerb and stalled momentarily, leading him to lose the rear end, though to most observers it looked like a driver's error.

Meanwhile, McLaren limited the damage with solid work by Heikki Kovalainen, who took third, and Hamilton, who finished fifth.

The pair had been penalised five places on the grid for allegedly blocking rival drivers during qualifying, following complaints from Renault and the improving BMW Sauber team.

"If this is our worst weekend of the year, then we will take it," McLaren boss Ron Dennis said.

"Leading both championships at this point in the season is not a bad place to be in."

Hamilton sits atop the driver standings on 14 points, three ahead of Raikkonen and BMW's Nick Heidfeld.

In the constructors' championship, McLaren led with 24 ahead of BMW on 19. Ferrari are third with 11.

With Bahrain coming up next on April 6, Dennis said his team would not get the true measure of their car until Barcelona on April 27.

"We don't really know what our pace is at the moment," he said. - Sapa-AFP

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