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Last Updated: Sunday, 12 March 2006, 15:17 GMT
Alonso predicts four-way F1 fight
Fernando Alonso celebrates his Bahrain Grand Prix victory, flanked by runner-up Michael Schumacher (left) and third-placed Kimi Raikkonen
1 F Alonso (Renault)
2 M Schumacher (Ferrari)
3 K Raikkonen (McLaren)
4 J Button (Honda)
5 JP Montoya (McLaren)
6 M Webber (Williams)
7 N Rosberg (Williams)
8 C Klien (Red Bull)
World champion Fernando Alonso believes this year's Formula One title battle is wide open after winning a competitive first race of the season in Bahrain.

The Spaniard fought a wheel-to-wheel battle in his Renault with Michael Schumacher's Ferrari, while McLaren and Honda also showed strong form.

"There are four teams fighting for victory at any circuit," Alonso said.

"Any of them can win races and this makes the start of the season especially very interesting."

Alonso took the lead from Schumacher coming out of the pits following his final stop for fuel and tyres.

The two went side-by-side around the first corner, with the Renault just coming out ahead.

Renault's engineering director, Pat Symonds, described the battle as "very close, very exciting", adding: "It was a thrilling race. It showed us that there is going to be a lot of close and exciting racing this year."

Schumacher was also optimistic of a good season for Ferrari, who suffered a disappointing 2005 campaign.

Jenson Button in his Honda during the Bahrain Grand Prix
I think our pace is there with the Renault and the Ferrari, I think the McLarens are a little bit behind
Jenson Button
"This is very nice but victory would have been nicer," the German said. "It was a good result with a reliable car, a fast car and it's very promising for the rest of the season."

And Kimi Raikkonen was buoyed by a superb fight back which saw the McLaren driver finish third after starting from the back of the grid.

"There are many races to go and the car seems to have good speed," said the Finn.

"It is good we have not dropped too many points on the guys in front of me.

"For sure we would have had a chance to win the race. I think we could have been fighting against them."

Raikkonen won a battle for third place with Jenson Button's Honda, which was also competitive after the Englishman dropped from third to sixth at the start.

Button said: "I think our pace is there with the Renault and the Ferrari, I think the McLarens are a little bit behind."

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