Briton Jenson Button recorded his second consecutive Formula One victory for Brawn GP at the weather-affected Malaysian Grand Prix on Sunday.
Button, who had qualified in pole position, was leading on the 33rd of 56 scheduled laps when the race was stopped after a thunderstorm broke at the Sepang International Circuit. With the torrential rain refusing to relent and darkness descending on the track due to the late starting time, organizers eventually decided not to restart the race, awarding half-points to the top eight finishers. Nick Heidfeld benefited from a decision to run a heavy fuel load as he finished second for BMW Sauber while fellow-German Timo Glock was third in his Toyota after a strong run in intermediates during a period before the heavens fully opened. Jarno Trulli was fourth in the second Toyota, with Brawn GP’s Rubens Barrichello fifth and Mark Webber sixth for Red Bull. World champion Lewis Hamilton was seventh for McLaren with Nico Rosberg eighth for Williams. It was the first race to be red-flagged for rain since the 1991 Australian Grand Prix in Adelaide. The result maintains Brawn’s dream start to Formula One as Button leads the driver standings with 15 points, five ahead of team-mate Barrichello. Rosberg got a great jump at the start, accelerating past Glock and Trulli and passing Button on the inside of the first corner. Button looked out of sorts early and dropped to fourth after also being passed by Trulli and Fernando Alonso in the first complex of corners. He regained third place from Alonso at turn 13 but it was Rosberg that held a 1.2-second lead over Trulli at the end of the opening lap. Heikki Kovalainen was an early casualty, spinning his McLaren out on turn five of the first lap when something appeared to break on the back of his car, while Robert Kubica, who had started slowly in his badly-misfiring BMW Sauber retired on the second when his engine gave out. Rosberg had opened a 3.3-second lead when he came in for his first pit stop on the 15th lap, handing the lead to Trulli, with Button in hot pursuit in second. Trulli went into the pits at the end of the 17th lap handing the lead over to Button, who ran a fastest lap of 1:36.041 to maintain first place when the first sequence of pit stops ended. The rain arrived on lap 22, bringing most of the field in for a change to wet tires and Hamilton was the biggest beneficiary as his first fuel stop helped to elevate his McLaren up to sixth place. The Brawn had enjoyed little testing in wet conditions but Button showed his mastery of the conditions by opening up a 24.6-second lead over second-placed teammate Barrichello by lap 25.
Button claims pole once again
But Glock was flying in his Toyota, moving up through the field rapidly on intermediate tires. Having swallowed up many of the other runners, the German took the lead when Button came in to the pits to change from wets to intermediates on lap 29. It proved an untimely decision for the Brawn GP driver as the heavens opened up immediately after forcing Button into the pits for a fourth time to change back to wets but with Glock also stopping for wets, he managed to emerge from the pits in first place. The rain intensified and Giancarlo Fisichella, Sebastian Vettel and Sebastien Buemi spun out in the treacherous conditions. The safety car was deployed soon afterwards before the cars were red-flagged on lap 33 with Button leading from Glock in second and Heidfeld in third. Trulli was fourth at the stoppage with Barrichello fifth, Hamilton sixth, Rosberg seventh and Webber eighth. With the rain refusing to relent and darkness approaching, the decision was made, 50 minutes after the stoppage, not to restart with half-points awarded to the top eight finishers. The results were counted back to the end of the 31st lap with Heidfeld taking second and Glock third behind Button.