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Ferrari star rebounds, but Alonso wins

4/24/2005

IMOLA, Italy -- Fernando Alonso held off Michael Schumacher
by 0.2 seconds in a fierce duel Sunday to win the San Marino Grand
Prix for his third straight victory and fourth in a row for
Renault.

Renault has won every race this year, the other victory by
Giancarlo Fisichella in the season-opening Australian Grand Prix.

``This is probably the best of the three that I've had so far,''
Alonso said. ``It was difficult, but at the end I managed to be
first.''

Alonso increased his lead in the standings to 36 points.
Schumacher's runner-up finish was his best result this season, and
he now has 10 points.

Alonso and Schumacher raced 1-2 for the final 12 laps.
Schumacher moved his Ferrari around the track in passing attempts
on several occasions. Each time, however, Alonso responded with a
block. Schumacher appeared to get half his car alongside Alonso on
the final lap, but Alonso would not budge and closed again.

On an overcast and humid day, Alonso took the lead when
pole-sitter Kimi Raikkonen retired after just eight laps with an
apparent mechanical problem.

Schumacher started 13th after running wide onto the dirt in
qualifying. He made up several positions early in the race by
making a later first pit stop than other top drivers, then passed
Jenson Button on the 47th lap to pursue Alonso.

``I'm happy in one way from the race. On the other hand, I'm
disappointed with what happened this morning,'' Schumacher said.
``We had a stunning pace and performance. That's what we can take
from the race.''

Button, in a BAR Honda, was third for his first finish this
season.

Alonso covered 62 laps around the Enzo and Dino Ferrari circuit
in 1 hour, 27 minutes, 41.921 seconds. This was the fourth career
victory for the 23-year-old Spaniard, widely considered the next
great Formula One driver after Schumacher.

Schumacher, the seven-time world champion, made a vast
improvement on his first three races in which he finished only once
for the worst start of his career.

Throngs of Ferrari fans cheered wildly when Schumacher passed
Button and watched in awe as the new and old stars of the sport
went head to head. Afterward, they stood and applauded Schumacher's
return to form and Alonso's performance under pressure.

Alonso waved three fingers in front of his on-board TV camera to
mark his third straight win, including the Malaysian and Bahrain
GPs.

Fisichella crashed out on the sixth lap but Renault remained
atop the constructor standings with 46 points, followed by Toyota
with 28 and McLaren-Mercedes at 24. Ferrari moved from sixth to
fourth with 18 points.

Alexander Wurz finished fourth in his first race since running
with Benetton in 2000. Wurz was filling in for McLaren's injured
Juan Pablo Montoya.

BAR's Takuma Sato was fifth and Jacques Villeneuve of Sauber was
sixth. Toyota's Jarno Trulli crossed seventh and maintained second
place in the driver standings behind Alonso with 18 points.

Fisichella, Schumacher and brother Ralf Schumacher of Toyota are
tied for third with 10 points each. Ralf Schumacher was eighth
Sunday. Ferrari's Rubens Barrichello quit with electrical trouble
after coming in for a pit stop on the 18th lap.