Button wins halved Malaysian GP
Jenson Button has won the Malaysian Grand Prix at Sepang in mixed weather conditions. The race was stopped after only 33 of the planned 56 laps. Nick Heidfeld came in second, ahead of Timo Glock who completes the podium. Because less than 75% of the race was completed, only half of the points will be awarded for this race.
The Malaysian Grand Prix kicked of in dry conditions with very threatening skies.
As the right lights went out, Rosberg is off like a bullet and immediately goes for the lead into turn 1. Jenson Button was a little wide and lost several places. Second is Jarno Trulli while Fernando Alonso passed Button a few corners later. The Spaniard obviously profited from his KERS at the start but eventually got repassed again by Button at the end of the first lap.
In the 5th corner of the grand prix, Kovalainen is into the gravel and out of the race. In lap 3 Kubica is also out with an engine on fire after initially having stalled on the starting grid. Sebastien Bourdais is at the same time in for a new nose cone.
Upon passing the finish line, Barrichello can pass Alonso also. Fernando is heavy on fuel and is also holding up Raikkonen, Webber and Glock.
By lap 8, the leading three have pulled away with Rosberg 3 seconds ahead of Trulli and Button who are very close to each other. Rosberg is however able to consistently improve his laptime with consecutive fastest laps.
Vettel meanwhile is lucky to see Heidfeld go wide and make an easy pass after not being able to do it himself due to the BMW's KERS system.
In lap 10, Raikkonen finally gets past Alonso and quickly pulls away. Fernando now has Webber right on his tail, while Vettel has joined the train just behind Glock. Sebastian is more than a second faster per lap than Alonso and the drivers stuck behind him. Webber is able to pass the Renault one lap later, an event that shows how the Renault actually needs its KERS to be able to overtake on a straight line. I am certain it would be impossible for Alonso to fight Webber again on the straight without enabling KERS.
In lap 13, Vettel enters the pitlane for new option tyres. Rosberg joins one lap later, followed by many others. Trulli is in in lap 17 and Button immediately sets a fastest sector one. In fact he makes it a fastest overall lap, a 1:36.641. He continues quicky the lap after.
When Raikkonen enters in lap 18, he gets fitted with full wets, surprisingly because there is no rain yet to be seen. Button enters one lap later and fits option dry tyres and is in the lead of the race thanks to two lightning fast laps. After Barrichello stopped, he is 4th, right on Trulli's tail.
Raikkonen meanwhile is struggling badly on the wets, he is 20 seconds slower per lap than everybody else. Having done that for three consecutive laps, he lost a minute and his race is practically ruined.
Then, in lap 22 it finally starts to rain. Alonso is off the track but is able to rejoin after some rally driving. That same lap, everybody is in the pitlane for full wets immediately. It is however not yet raining everywhere.
Raikkonen then lets his team know his tyres are completely destroyed. He will likely have to get new wets if he wants to be competitive in the rain. It may even be interesting to fit intermediates as it is only very wet in 2 or three corners on the track.
Webber and Hamilton are meanwhile fighting it out and changing paces every three corners. Webber is having the upper hand in the corners while Hamilton can profit from the extra KERS power on the straights. By laps 24 Webber finally appears to pull away from Hamilton and moves up to 5th after also passing Heidfeldjust half a lap later, on the outside in the 180° turn a the end of the bak straight.
In lap 26, Barrichello passes Trulli and takes 3rd place. He even passes Rosberg only moments later, just before the latter divers into the pitlane. Glock follows closely behind and passes Trulli. Glock is currently the fastest man on track, probably eause he in on intermediate tyres.
That same lap, Barrichello and Trulli are both in to change their full wets for intermediates as it clearly shows that the trick still isn't wet enough to justify the extra grooves. Button follows suit, followed by Webber.
Just one lap later though, the rain stiffens seriously. Button managed to pass Glock but the latter quickly dived into the pitlane for full wets, the correct solution as the track has become very very wet in just 30 seconds. Practically everyone is in the pitlane, and parhaps one lap too late Button is in too.
In lap 29, the safety car is deployed as it has virtually become impossible to drive and fight for positions. Button is currently in the lead, just ahead of Glock. Behind him is Heidfeld, followed by Trulli, Barrichello, Webber, Hamilton and Rosberg. For Vettel the safety car was just too little too late as he went off track.
Moments later the race is red flagged. Everyone just stops on the starting line, and step out of their cars. Hamilton and Button stay in their cars however, and Mark Webber, as leader of the GPDA is consulting several others to see what they think. Massa meanwhile complained of being unable to see anything. He and Barrichello are trying out new helmets with different visors in case any more racing is to be done.
Note that at this time, since we are over halfway the number of laps it is possible the race will be simply stopped. The final result will however be halved points in that case. A full point finish requires 75% of the race to be completed.
It is now 1 hour and 20 minutes after the start of the race, and by now it looks like some parts of the track are clearing up. The start finish line however is still very much soaked and under heavy rain. If there is still more racing to come, it will have to be soon because the total race cannot exceed 120 minutes.
At 18:35 local time, 95 minutes after the start, it looks like there is going to be a restart as cars are being arranged on the starting grid. A the same time, it appears that most drivers judge it too dark to go racing.
5 minutes later there is a decision that some cars will be released to complete a lap in order to arrange all cars in the correct order on the grid. It may be an interesting opportunity for the drivers and the FIA to judge if more full racing would be possible.
Kimi Raikkonen meanwhile has already changed clothes and is happily eating an icecream in the paddock. His car is already in the pitbox. He was 14th when the race halted.