Ferrari Back on Track After Raikkonen Wins

SEPANG, Malaysia -- Kimi Raikkonen cruised to victory in Malaysia on Sunday to put Ferrari back on the winning track and slash Lewis Hamilton's lead to three points.

Defending champion Raikkonen failed to finish last weekend's season-opener in Australia, but the Finn sealed his 16th grand prix victory after taking the lead from teammate Felipe Massa at the first set of pit stops.

BMW Sauber's Robert Kubica finished second, the best result of the Pole's Formula One career so far. McLaren's Heikki Kovalainen was third with British teammate Hamilton having to settle for fifth.

Massa's race came to an end on lap 31 when the Brazilian, who started in pole position with teammate Raikkonen alongside, spun out at turn eight and could not escape the gravel trap.

"It was a pretty easy race from that first pit stop," said Raikkonen. "We had quite a difficult weekend in Australia and we were not 100 percent sure it was going to be any different here.

"But everything worked perfectly. ... and we're in a pretty good position," added the Finn, who scored a point in Australia after only seven cars finished and one of those was disqualified.

Hamilton, who started ninth on the grid after he and Kovalainen collected five-place penalties for impeding rivals in qualifying, finished behind Italian Jarno Trulli, who took a fine fourth place for Toyota.

Nick Heidfeld (BMW), Mark Webber (Red Bull) and Spain's double world champion Fernando Alonso (Renault) collected the rest of the points.

Hamilton, who won in Melbourne, was fifth after the first lap but could not find a way past Australian Webber.

Problems in removing the McLaren's right front wheel at the first pitstop cost Hamilton 20 seconds and ultimately wrecked his chances of catching the leaders.

"I was pushing Mark for a long, long time but being behind someone is extremely difficult so it doesn't matter how much quicker you are, it makes it extremely difficult to get past," said the 23-year-old.

"And then we were in with a good shot for third place and then we had the wheel gun at the pitstop."

Kubica savored BMW's second runners-up spot in a row following Heidfeld's superb finish at Albert Park last week, but said his team had to rein-in their expectations.

"It was a fantastic result for the team," said the Pole. "I think we have to be happy with our place now, because at the start of the season it didn't look so good," he added.

The 23-year-old conceded BMW were still trailing Ferrari in terms of performance but was surprised McLaren, who dominated last year's race in Malaysia with a one-two finish, had not posed more of a challenge.

Kovalainen, on the podium for only the second time in a career spanning just 19 races, said McLaren had a lot to be proud of after being hit by the penalties on Saturday.

The Finn qualified third fastest but started from eighth because of the five-place drop.

"After yesterday's penalty it was going to be a hard day for us. We have to be pleased with the results," he said. "We'd like to be a couple of places higher but today, this was the maximum we could do."

Hamilton leads the championship with 14 points after two races, ahead of Raikkonen and Heidfeld with 11. Massa has yet to score a point.

The next race is in Bahrain on April 6.