Jenson Button made it two wins in a row in Malaysia with two German aces hot on his heels in a chaotic race that was eventually cut short by heavy rain and failing light.
Germans Heidfeld and Glock grabbed podium spots behind Button
Jenson Button's fairy tale 2009 season continued in Malaysia on Sunday, April 5, as the Briton claimed his second straight win, extending his lead in the world championship race. One month ago it looked like Button's team, now known as Brawn GP (formerly Honda), wouldn't even be lining up on the grid. Now, he's the bookmaker's favorite to win it all.
Button again started from pole position, but he got away poorly and had to recover positions in difficult wet conditions.
"It was a very exciting race, and although I would prefer a more boring race, I'm happy to take victory," Button told reporters after the race was cut short for safety reasons. A combination of a wet track after a Malaysian thunderstorm and failing evening light meant that the stewards decided to call off the race with over 20 laps remaining.
"It was really bad conditions, you couldn't actually see the circuit," Button added.
Two Germans on the podium
A violent thunderstorm turned the track into a swimming pool
Nick Heidfeld and Timo Glock both profited from the bad weather, grabbing second and third places respectively.
Heidfeld started well down the field, after looking off the pace in qualifying, but a good race strategy allowed him to spend as little time as possible in the pits. The veteran BMW Sauber driver profited from the mistakes of others in the heavy rain to climb to second. That's the eighth time he's finished second in his career, but Heidfeld is still looking for his first Grand Prix victory.
It briefly looked like third place Glock might challenge Button for the win, but he lost time in the closing stages as the weather deteriorated.
"The race was so confusing," Glock said. "At one stage when I was behind the safety car, I was told by my crew that I was first. When the race was stopped I was told that I was second and later I was told that I was third. I hope that I stay third now."
Ferrari again picked up no points in the slippery conditions
Almost immediately after calling out the pace car, race officials decided to stop the race. The cars lined up in order on the grid, waiting to see if the weather improved.
By the time the thunderstorm began to subside, the sun was starting to set on Malaysia, meaning that drivers would have had to combat both a slippery surface and poor visibility. Red Bull's Mark Webber, the head of the Grand Prix Drivers' Association asked his colleagues if they felt it was safe to continue.
"I nearly hit Nico Rosberg, and I was going just 15 kilometers (9 miles) per hour at the time," Webber explained. "It does not matter what points you get out of a race like this, it matters that the guys don't get hurt."
Drivers will only be awarded half points for Malaysia, because they did not complete three quarters of the race distance.
Double World Champion Fernando Alonso agreed that the circuit was undriveable. "It was just too dangerous," he said. "The conditions were very difficult. It was completely dark."
Brawn GP: A new force in F1?
Last season's front runners Ferrari and McLaren Mercedes are still decidedly slow as they struggle to get to grip with sweeping rule changes in 2009. Seventh place in Malaysia for reigning World Champion Lewis Hamilton means that McLaren have broken their duck, and picked up one championship point, but Ferrari -- the top team in eight of the last ten seasons -- are currently dead last with no points to their name.
In a Formula One world turned on its head, Brawn GP are runaway leaders of the constructors' championship with 25 points. Only Toyota -- on 16.5 -- are anywhere near the former Honda outfit. BMW Sauber and Renault are next in line with just four championship points after two races.
In the driver's championship back-to-back winner Jenson Button leads with 15 points. His teammate Rubens Barrichello, on ten, is his closet rival. The Toyota pairing of Jarno Trulli and Timo Glock are next, on eight-and-a-half and eight points, respectively.
The next round of the championship takes place in China in two weeks.