The Malaysian Grand Prix turned out to be a damp squib – literally as well as figuratively – as torrential rains caused the race to be red-flagged by the end of 33rd lap with Jenson Button leading the race everyone else a lap behind. After a lot of dilly-dallying, it was decided that the race would not be restarted and the top three as they finished in the penultimate lap were: Jenson Button in 1st, Nick Heidfeld in 2nd and Timo Glock in 3rd. Since the race finished before 75% of the laps could be completed, only half points would be awarded.
It was a disappointing ending to what started off as a frenetic race and with the prospect of rain looming large, some interesting passing manoeuvres and lotsa pit-stop gambles were expected. We did have some amount of that but it was a pity that it couldn’t be carried all through the 56 laps.
Initial predictions said rain will arrive into 10 laps of the start but that never happened and we had a delightful start to the race. Nico Rosberg was the quickest off the blocks and emerged in the lead at the end of turn one. Robert Kubica stalled his BMW on the grid and did get going but ultimately ended after half-a-lap with fire billowing off his engine. Heikki Kovalainen was another first-lap casualty as what looked like a driveshaft failure caused him to spear off the track. Fernando Alonso had a great start and was up into third place behind Rosberg and pole-sitter Jenson Button and managed to hold off much of the field behind him for the better part of the initial laps but ultimately had to give in to the lighter cars behind. At the back of the grid, both Felipe Massa and Lewis Hamilton had good starts and crept up into the top ten.
When the initial rain didn’t come, the pit strategies started to unravel and all of the lead runners started pitting by the end of the 14th lap and when all of that shook down, Jenson Button emerged in the race lead with teammate Rubens Barrichello in second and the Toyota of Timo Glock in third. Ferrari put on their dumb-headed caps and fitted Kimi Raikkonen – who was running in 6th place – with full wets with the track still being bone dry! As a result of that shambolic call, Raikkonen dropped down to 16th position and couldn’t make up any advantage as the rains did come some six laps later. There was some slipping and sliding and quite a few overtaking moves amidst all of that with Mark Webber & Lewis Hamilton and Jarno Trulli & Rubens Barrichello exchanging places quite a few times. The Safety Car came out at the end of the 30th lap and the field ran behind the safety car for two laps and though the rains cleared and the track started draining off, the scheduled running time of 2 hours having been reached plus rapidly descending darkness meant there was no restart.
It is a second consecutive win for Brawn GP and Jenson Button and they’ve sealed up two pole positions and two wins in as many races. Dream Start indeed! The next race will be the Chinese Grand Prix at Shanghai in two weeks time.
Pic courtesy Crash.net