Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Malaysian GP: Button Wins Rain-Shortened Race

Sunday 5th April 2009

Jenson Button claimed the victory in a rain-shortened Malaysian GP that caused more confusing after the chequered flag than it did when the drivers were spinning off the track.

The Brit made it two-from-two for himself and Brawn GP as the race was called on lap 33 with him ahead of Timo Glock and Heidfeld. But given the countback to the end of lap 31 it was Heidfeld who finished in second place with Glock third.

There were also points, albeit only half points, for Jarno Trulli, Rubens Barrichello, Mark Webber, Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg. The half points are because the race didn't reach the two-thirds mark.

As for Ferrari, it was yet another day to forget with Felipe Massa finishing ninth and Kimi Raikkonen down in 14th place.

Report: Nico Rosberg snatched the lead of the Malaysian Grand Prix after making a storming start from sixth and forcing pole-sitter Jenson Button wide in the first corner.

Button, on pole for the second consecutive race for Brawn GP, slipped down to third behind Jarno Trulli.

Fernando Alonso, who has been suffering from an ear infection all weekend, powered his way from 10th up to fourth, while Button's team-mate Rubens Barrichello slipped back one place to sixth.

McLaren's Heikki Kovalainen failed to complete the first lap and was forced to retire from the race following an opening lap collision, while BMW Sauber's Robert Kubica was slow off the line and soon became the second retirement.

With dark rain clouds looming, Sebastien Buemi was forced to pit at the end of lap three for a new nose before Barrichello reclaimed fourth after passing the much heavier Alonso in the Renault.

At the front, Button continued to press Trulli while leader Rosberg set a new fastest lap to push his lead towards two seconds after five laps.

Further down the order, reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton made his way up three places to 10th.

With the fuel-laden Renault of Alonso causing a backlog, Kimi Raikkonen finally made his way past the two-time World Champion to claim fifth before Mark Webber quickly followed suit to relegate the sluggish Spaniard to seventh.

Vettel, running light after being relegated to 13th on the grid due to a 10-place penalty, was the first to make a regulation pit stop at the end of lap 13 and opted to only take on fuel.

Race leader Rosberg soon made his way in on lap 14 and dropped back to fourth ahead of Raikkonen's Ferrari to hand Trulli - who had Button less than a second behind - the lead.

The Italian soon brought his Toyota in a lap later to temporality hand Brawn GP a one-two with Barrichello, fighting back after being hit with a five-place grid penalty following a gearbox change, setting the fastest lap on lap 19.

Raikkonen was the next to pit but even though rain had yet to fall, Ferrari opted to send the Finn out with wet-weather tyres.

Button handed the lead to his team-mate at the end of lap 20 with his own pit-stop with Brawn opting to stick with dry-weather tyres for the Briton and a lap later Barrichello.

After the first round of regulation pit stops, Button claimed the lead from Rosberg, with Trulli, Alonso and Barrichello rounding out the top five.

But soon afterwards rain started to fall on parts of the circuit which brought the leaders into the pit lane after Alonso had lost control and spun on lap 22 but still kept himself in the race after crossing the grass.

Barrichello took advantage of Alonso's spin to move up to fourth ahead of Nick Heidfeld, with Webber passing Hamilton to claim sixth.

Hamilton reclaimed the place into turn one at the start of lap 24 before the Australian briefly took back the position but ran wide and allowed to Briton to recover and snatch it back.

But with Hamilton appearing to have an engine problem he slipped down to eighth, while Webber made his way up to fifth ahead of Heidfeld, who was soon passed by Timo Glock.

At the front, Button's lead over Rosberg stood at over 18 seconds on lap 26, while Barrichello restored the Brawn one-two after passing Trulli and Rosberg.

With rain only falling on parts of the circuit, the leaders all pitted on lap 29 and opted for intermediates to hand a storming Glock the lead ahead of Button following his pit stop.

But Glock, with a damaged front wing endplate following an earlier clash with Webber, was the first to pit for full wet types a lap later with the rain becoming heavier as a lighting storm passed over the circuit to reduce visibility.

Button made his fourth pit stop of the day for full wet tyres from the lead on lap 32 but managed to hang onto first place from Heidfeld, Glock and Trulli.

Shortly afterwards Vettel spun out of the race and with conditions worsening, the safety car was deployed on lap 32.

And as expected a lap later the red flag came to bring a temporary halt to the race with water standing on the track and making driving conditions impossible with cars spinning off on virtually every corner.

With the cars standing on the starting grid waiting for the weather to improve, Button led from Glock, Heidfeld, Trulli and Barrichello with Hamilton in sixth.

Race director Charlie Whiting then confirmed the race was suspended and drivers would be given a 10-minute warning before any racing resumed.

With the rain appearing to ease and visibility slowly improving the chance of racing improved, but with the race clock nearing the two-hour limit imposed by the FIA, the chance of a full race being completed diminished with only 20 minutes remaining and no sign of the 10 minute warning being given.

When the red flag fell, drivers had not completed 75% of the scheduled race distance meaning they would only be awarded half points should the race not resume with only 33 laps completed.

The race was finally called at the two hour mark with Jenson Button winning and Heidfeld finishing ahead of Glock based on the countback to lap 31.

01 J. Button Brawn GP 1:10:59.092
02 N. Heidfeld BMW + 22.700
03 T. Glock Toyota + 23.500
04 J. Trulli Toyota + 46.100
05 R. Barrichello Brawn GP + 47.300
06 M. Webber Red Bull + 52.300
07 L. Hamilton McLaren + 1:00.700
08 N. Rosberg Williams + 1:11.500
09 F. Massa Ferrari + 1:16.900
10 S. Bourdais Scuderia Toro Rosso + 1 laps
11 F. Alonso Renault + 1 laps
12 K. Nakajima Williams + 1 laps
13 N. Piquet jr. Renault + 1 laps
14 K. Räikkönen Ferrari + 1 laps
15 S. Vettel Red Bull + 1 laps
16 S. Buemi Scuderia Toro Rosso + 1 laps
17 A. Sutil Force India F1 + 1 laps
18 G. Fisichella Force India F1 + 1 laps
Did not finish
19 R. Kubica BMW +29 laps
20 H. Kovalainen McLaren + 31 laps

Source : Planet F1

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