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Page last updated at 14:55 GMT, Sunday, 5 April 2009 15:55 UK

Drivers back Malaysia abandonment

Jenson Button

Highlights - Malaysian Grand Prix

Formula 1's top drivers backed the decision to call off the Malaysian Grand Prix following torrential rain.

The race was stopped after 32 laps and abandoned 40 minutes later when the allotted two-hour time limit ended, by which time it was also almost dark.

"It was way too wet out there and the decision to call it off was correct", said race winner Jenson Button.

The early finish meant the top eight drivers were awarded half points as the race had not reached 75% distance.

Button's team-mate Rubens Barrichello said the decision to start the race at 1700 local time to suit European TV audiences was a major factor in the decision.

"It was definitely right thing to call off the race because visibility was really bad, not just from the rain but also from the sky", the Brazilian said.

"That's the unfortunate thing of starting a race at five o'clock."

Lewis Hamilton

The conditions were impossible - Hamilton

But Red Bull's Mark Webber, the president of the Grand Prix Drivers' Association, pointed out that it had also rained earlier in the day.

"It's dark now at seven o'clock so it was the right call not to make the re-start," the Australian said.

"I'm not sure that you can blame the time of day for today's conditions as the weather was bad at three o'clock as well. It seems it was just one of those days."

Not long before the race was stopped, changing conditions had led to drivers diving in and out of the pits trying to fit the right tyres for the conditions.

And when the red flag finally came out, the track was so wet that the F1 cars could not keep up with the Mercedes safety car.

It's the most dangerous conditions I've ever raced in

Lewis Hamilton

Button added: "I would obviously love to have the 10 points, but this is the best we could have done, I think, and realistically it was the right thing to do.

"I'm sure some people will say 'we didn't see the whole race and it's disappointing' but you have to think about the safety sometimes.

"When the safety car is pulling away at 20 seconds a lap, you know that it's too wet for an F1 car."

World champion Lewis Hamilton, one of F1's best wet-weather drivers, agreed stewards had made the right call.

"It was impossible to drive out there, it was very, very dangerous. It's the most dangerous conditions I have ever raced in," said Hamilton, who finished seventh.

Nick Heidfeld, Jenson Button, Timo Glock

Full post-race news conference

BMW's Nick Heidfeld, who finished second, added: "When it finally poured down it was the right decision to stop the race, it was absolutely impossible to drive.

"I had contact with the pits, they told me that I should observe the safety car's speed which we have on the dash and not go quicker than that.

"I was laughing, telling them that I would be happy if I could go that quick. There was already a car which had spun there, so I thought 'OK, I will go as slow as possible'."

The race was halted after 70 minutes and drivers parked their cars on the grid as they waited for officials to decide whether to re-start the race.

That was always unlikely given the rule that dictates a Grand Prix has a maximum two-hour time period.

606: DEBATE
I want curly hair too

And by the time the rain had eased off sufficiently to consider re-starting the race, only 10 minutes of that period remained.

As the rules dictate that teams must have at least a 10-minute warning a re-start, that meant the race had to be abandoned.

The last time a Grand Prix was abandoned due to heavy rain was in Australia in 1991 and it is only the fifth time in F1 history that half points have been awarded.



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see also
Ferrari problems frustrate Massa
05 Apr 09 |  Formula 1
Classy Button wins abandoned race
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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