Jenson Button takes a dramatic Malaysian Grand Prix as race was cut short after torrential rain

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    Jenson Button takes a dramatic Malaysian Grand Prix as race was cut short after torrential rain

    Post by Ross on 5th April 2009, 14:35

    Button wins in Malaysian downpour

    Jenson Button continued Brawn GP’s sensational start to 2009 by winning in Malaysia after a Biblical downpour forced the race to be abandoned after 31 of the 56 laps.

    Toyota's Timo Glock was lying second at the time the red flag was shown, but the result was based on the last full lap of green-flag racing and he was shuffled back to third behind German compatriot Nick Heidfeld for BMW.

    Officials initially hoped the race could be resumed but continuing rain, the volume of standing water and the fading daylight made that impossible.

    With the official clock and timekeeping system continuing to run, the race ultimately hit its two-hour cut-off point and the result was declared – albeit with half-points being awarded to the top eight.

    And while Button may have again not secured his victory in normal racing conditions, having crossed the winning line last week in Melbourne under the safety car, his performance in both in the dry and wet at Sepang was virtually faultless.

    After a poor start dropped him from pole position to third by the first corner, he regained the lead with two stunningly fast Schumacher-like laps prior to his first pit stop to jump two cars.

    And then he and his Brawn team kept their heads despite the changing levels of rain necessitating three tyre stops in quick succession to further stake their claim as the combination to beat in 2009.

    Glock was equally impressive and carved his way up the order thanks to his own tactical masterstroke, which put him on intermediate tyres in the earlier damp conditions when everyone else opted for full-wets.

    Ironically the two star performers made the worst getaways from first and third respectively on the grid when the race got underway under bright, if quickly darkening, skies.
    None of the first five cars on the grid had access to the KERS power-boost – yet such was Nico Rosberg’s start from fourth position that it could easily have been assumed he had as he claimed the lead.

    The Williams driver hooked everything up perfectly once the lights went out and immediately shot down the inside of Trulli, while both passed Button.

    The Brawn driver tried to retaliate around the outside of the first part of the opening switchback, but only succeeded in losing grip and putting himself within striking distance of the rest of the pack.

    A chasing group that was amazingly led by Renault’s Fernando Alonso, the Spaniard making full use of his KERS unit to sensationally jump up from ninth to third.

    While all cars streamed through the tricky first phase of the lap without incident, it was further up the hill when the race claimed its first victim.

    Heikki Kovalainen failed to complete a lap at last week’s season-opener in Australia after being caught up in the first-corner melee and is still waiting to see a second lap this season after he getting stuck on the marbles on the outside of turn five and flew into the gravel after losing control of his McLaren.

    Meanwhile, further around the lap Button showed he was not prepared to have his race ruined by the heavier-fuelled Alonso by demonstrating his sky-high confidence with a bold pass down the inside of the two-time champion at the fast right-handed turn 13.

    He now set off in hot pursuit of Rosberg and Trulli.

    By lap three the race-leading Williams had opened up a 1.3s lead ahead of the team’s engine supplier Toyota and Rosberg’s slightly lighter fuel load meant he steadily increased that advantage as he built up to his first stop.

    When he pitted on lap 14, he was 3.1s up on Trulli and had a further second and a half in hand over Button – the latter pair knowing they had two and four laps respectively to find some extra speed before their own stops.

    For Trulli, it wasn’t enough time to make a difference and he exited his fuel stop on lap 17 again behind Rosberg.

    However, clean air gave Button the chance to demonstrate what remains the BGP 001's superior speed over the field

    As Trulli took on service, the Briton firmly put his pedal to the metal – ripping up the race’s fastest sector times and stringing together a lap that was far quicker than anyone else had set.

    He went even faster in the first two sectors of his next lap and such was his sensational speed that after taking on service at the start of lap 19, he jumped both Rosberg and Trulli into the lead.

    Button now seemed set to waltz away into the distance for a second successive victory.

    However, the rain that has been a factor throughout the week in Malaysia, but that has somehow missed all the F1 track sessions up until Sunday, finally muscled in on the action.

    Dark clouds had gathered above Sepang since the start of the race but teams were now telling their drivers over the radios that they could expect rain showers imminently.

    Indeed Ferrari appeared to think that it was already raining heavily and the lap before Button pitted for slicks, it bizarrely put Kimi Raikkonen – who had moved up to fifth place on lap 11 after passing Alonso – on the extreme wet tyres despite the track being bone dry.

    Given the fact that memories of its Q1 qualifying mistake with Felipe Massa from Saturday must have been so fresh in its mind, making such another potentially-costly gamble was hard to fathom and the Finn’s race chances duly fell apart.

    He was up to 30s a lap slower than the field initially as he tried to grapple a now heavily reluctant F60 and fell right down the order.

    The rain did properly appear three laps later, but this was too late to save a disgruntled Raikkonen who reported over the radio that his tyres were “destroyed”.

    The decision to switch to wet rubber was then taken by the rest of the field on lap 21, although Alonso nearly didn’t get that far after somehow expertly navigating his way out of the gravel when his R29 looked to be beached.

    Button used the uncertain conditions to increase his lead substantially during this phase and had opened up a 15.8s advantage over Rosberg, Trulli and team-mate Barrichello just two laps later.

    Behind the leading foursome, a new order had emerged with the rain shower having fallen perfectly for the drivers who had qualified further down the field and running a longer first stint.

    This meant that Heidfeld, Lewis Hamilton (McLaren), Mark Webber (Red Bull) and ferrari's Felipe Massa could switch to the extreme rubber during their planned pit-stop sequence, putting them fifth to eighth respectively in the order.

    However, one man who had opted to go a different route on the tyre selection was Glock who, sensing an opportunity to recover from his disastrous start, made the bold move to put on the intermediate tyres.

    It proved to be a tactical masterstroke.

    With the rain not yet proving as severe as predicted, the shallower grooves in the Toyota driver's tyres were tailor made for the conditions and he quickly stormed through the field from ninth to second.

    While Button had still been lapping at a steady rate at the front, if the rain stayed as light as it was then Glock would only have reeled him in so Ross Brawn’s team made the only logical decision it could and called its driver in again to switch to the inters.

    The majority of the field, excluding Heidfeld who stayed on the extremes, soon followed.

    Pitting with just a 24.6s advantage, Button conceded the lead to Glock however the new race leader’s earlier efforts seemed to have taken the life out of his intermediates and he was almost immediately repassed by the Brawn driver before the end of the lap.

    Then the rain gods really caused some havoc.

    As Glock pitted at the end of lap 30 for the full wets, the rest of the field were soon also scrambling back into the pit lane for the same tyres as Sepang was hit by a huge electrical storm.

    With lightening striking the circuit’s symbolic man grandstand and monsoon conditions swamping the track, the drivers found it hard to keep their cars on the island and Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel and Force India’s Giancarlo Fisichella duly aquaplaned off the circuit.

    As Button gingerly returned to the circuit following his fourth tyre stop in quick succession and began tip-toeing around the track ahead of Glock, the inevitable safety car was called on lap 31.

    Indeed it didn’t take long for the red-flag to be thrown and the remaining runners to park up back on the grid as race control waited to see whether the storm would pass.

    Some forty minutes of dilberations followed and, with some of the drivers making it clear that conditions were too dangerous to resume the race, in the end the fading light and reaching of the two-hour time limit meant Button was declared the winner ahead of Heidfeld and Glock.

    Trulli didn't quite have the cards fall his way in the rain but still finished fourth to complete a fine day for Toyota, with Barrichello adding more points to Brawn GP's early advantage with fifth.

    Red Bull’s Webber emerged with sixth ahead of Hamilton, who survived a late spin to officially open his points account for 2009 after a traumatic week.

    Rosberg was unfortunate to lose out during the tyre changes and claimed the final point, although Williams may find that scant reward for its earlier impressive speed.

    As in Melbourne, Ferrari failed to score a point with Massa ending up ninth and Raikkonen paying heavily for the team's earlier gamble in 14th.

    Alonso's earlier mistake meant he too finished outside the points in 11th.

    Malaysia GP result - 31 laps

    1. BUTTON Brawn
    2. HEIDFELD BMW +22.7s
    3. GLOCK Toyota +23.5s
    4. TRULLI Toyota +46.1
    5. BARRICHELLO Brawn +47.3s
    6. WEBBER Red Bull +52.3s
    7. HAMILTON McLaren +1m00.7s
    8. ROSBERG Williams +1m11.5s
    9. MASSA Ferrari +1m42.1s
    10. BOURDAIS Toro Rosso +1 lap
    11. ALONSO Renault +1 lap
    12. NAKAJIMA Williams +1 lap
    13. PIQUET Renault +1 lap
    14. RAIKKONEN Ferrari +1 lap
    15. VETTEL Red Bull +1 lap
    16. BUEMI Toro Rosso +1 lap
    17. SUTIL Force India +1 lap
    18. FISICHELLA Force India +2 laps
    R. KUBICA BMW +30 laps
    R. KOVALAINEN McLaren +31 laps

    Fastest lap: Button, 1m36.641s


    Director of Operations

    Director of Operations

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    Re: Jenson Button takes a dramatic Malaysian Grand Prix as race was cut short after torrential rain

    Post by Ross on 5th April 2009, 15:00


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      Current date/time is 23rd May 2018, 14:53