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Page last updated at 10:59 GMT, Sunday, 5 April 2009 11:59 UK

Classy Button wins abandoned race

Jenson Button

Highlights - Malaysian Grand Prix

By Chris Whyatt

Jenson Button's perfect start to the season continued as he won the Malaysian Grand Prix after the race was stopped early because of heavy rain.

Brawn GP's English driver overcame a bad start from pole and drove superbly to ensure he was leading when a storm meant the race had to be declared over.

BMW Sauber's Nick Heidfeld was second ahead of Toyota's Timo Glock and world champion Lewis Hamilton was seventh.

For only the fifth time in Formula 1 history, drivers only win half points.

After an action-packed opening race in Australia - which Button also won in convincing fashion - the second instalment of the 2009 season lived up to the expectation that there would be more drama.

What a crazy race. My start was really bad and choosing the tyres here was so difficult

Jenson Button

Yet safety was the prime concern as, following the arrival of the red flag after 31 laps, motorsport's world governing body, the FIA, decided the race would not be restarted.

That decision was in theory backed by most drivers, some of whom had called for the race to be suspended over their team radio because of the atrocious conditions even before the safety car came out.

"The visibility is nothing," said Renault's Fernando Alonso before the race was officially called off.

"We could have a serious accident if we restart."

Before weather conditions deteriorated the race was, ultimately, a tale of the continued dominance of new boys Brawn GP - with Rubens Barrichello fifth and Button living up to his status as favourite.

After a poor start in which Williams's Nico Rosberg sped past him followed by Jarno Trulli and Renault's Fernando Alonso, Button utilised the speed of his Brawn car - and his skills as a driver - to storm back past the Spaniard with a clever manoeuvre on Turn 13.

Button quickly built up pressure on the Toyota in second and put himself into the lead during a decisive period for all drivers when, as rain started to fall around lap 17, an unexpected delay in the anticipated deluge threw the tyre strategy of many teams into disarray.

Drivers stop in Sepang as a storm hovers overhead
Drivers come to a stop in Sepang as a storm unloads heavy rain on the track

Just prior to his first pit stop on lap 19, Button reaped the rewards of staying out two laps longer than race leader Jarno Trulli to clock the fastest laps of the race - taking a second off any other - as his Brawn car made the most of the extra fuel it had been loaded with.

From that point on Button was in control and by lap 26 - when most cars drivers were using extreme wet tyres - the Englishman had established an 18 second lead over Rosberg in second.

By then, however, all drivers were struggling to adapt to the wet conditions and were going 22 seconds slower per lap, on average, than they had been when it was dry.

"What a crazy race, it really was," said Button, who has now extended his lead at the top of the driver's championship.

"My start was really bad, I had a lot of oversteer and maybe I didn't get enough heat in the rear tyres.

"Choosing the tyres here was difficult because unusually when it rains here [in Malaysia] it pours, but it didn't [initially]."

The inclement weather proved most disastrous for Ferrari, who put Kimi Raikkonen on extreme wet tyres too early.

Compounding their poor start to the season, the Finn eventually finished 14th while Brazilian team-mate Felipe Massa could only manage ninth - and the reigning construtors champions now sit last.

Jenson Button

Button credits team strategy

But the victory of former Honda team Brawn GP, who only secured their place on the grid in early March, creates history: they are the first new team to win their first two races since Alfa Romeo won the first ever two F1 Grands Prix in 1950.

Second-placed Heidfeld, whose clever strategy meant he pitted only once while other drivers had three or four pits to change tyres, secured his best result since the equally chaotic Belgian Grand Prix last season.

German Glock was running in eighth up to the first set of pit stops, but benefited greatly after switching to intermediate tyres rather than full wets when the rain first arrived enabling him to storm through the field for only the second podium finish of his career.

Hamilton, meanwhile, did relatively well to finish seventh after starting from 12th on the grid.

But even the world champion - a notoriously strong driver in the wet - could not find the speed he needed to seriously contest the lead in a McLaren car that has been significantly underperforming through pre-season testing and into the opening two races.

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see also
Ferrari problems frustrate Massa
05 Apr 09 |  Formula 1
Drivers back Malaysia abandonment
05 Apr 09 |  Formula 1
Malaysia Grand Prix photos
05 Apr 09 |  Formula 1
Malaysian Grand Prix as it happened
05 Apr 09 |  Formula 1
Rapid Button beats Trulli to pole
04 Apr 09 |  Formula 1

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