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Button wins abandoned Malaysian Grand Prix

Video by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2009-04-06

Britain's Jenson Button won a Malaysian Grand Prix abandoned due to rain for his second consecutive victory for the new Brawn GP team. The race was red-flagged when a torrential downpour made driving conditions impossible.

AFP - Jenson Button won a chaotic Malaysian Grand Prix on Sunday for a second straight victory after the race was abandoned when a ferocious storm lashed the Sepang circuit.

Nick Heidfeld in his BMW Sauber came second, benefiting from pitting only once to Button's four times in a race that became a lottery. Timo Glock in a Toyota was third.

It was finally halted after 32 laps as rain pelted down, lightning flashed around the circuit and visibility deteriorated, the first time since Brazil in 2003 that a race has been called off due to weather.

Formula One supremos must take some of the blame after pushing for a 5:00 pm start instead of its regular 3:00 pm slot to satisfy European television audiences.

With tropical Malaysia routinely getting wild storms, it was clear that if one hit during the 56-lap race they would have trouble finishing with daylight disappearing.

Toyota's Jarno Trulli came fourth, Rubens Barrichello in the other Brawn was fifth and Mark Webber in the Red Bull was sixth.

World champion Lewis Hamilton picked valuable points by coming seventh with Nico Rosberg filling out the top eight.

However, the drivers and constructors only get half the usual number of points with the race halted at less than three-quarter distance.

With black clouds threatening rain, the race got off to a sensational start with pole-sitter Button half asleep as the lights turned green.

The Briton, who won last week in Melbourne, went to the first corner in fourth behind Rosberg, Trulli and Fernando Alonso.

Undeterred, Button soon woke up and sped past Alonso before the opening lap was over and started closing on the leaders.

Barrichello, who started ninth with a five place grid penalty for changing his gearbox, stormed up to fourth and the top four started to pull away.

By lap eight, they had a 13-second gap on fifth-placed Alonso, clearly benefiting from their controversial rear diffusers.

Only Williams, Toyota and Brawn have them fitted and they have been the subject of protests by BMW Sauber, Ferrari, Renault, Red Bull who claim they are contrary to the rules, generating more downforce.

While the the top four were flying, there was disaster for the troubled McLaren team with Heikki Kovalainen careering onto the gravel on the opening lap and crashing out.

Robert Kubica in his BMW Sauber also had a race to forget, stalling on the grid and only completing one lap.

Leader Rosberg made his first pit stop on lap 15 and came out fourth. Trulli followed a lap later, along with Button and Barrichello.

They all elected slick tyres despite the threat of rain and when the dust settled Button was leading ahead of Rosberg, Trulli and Barrichello.

It was a mistake as the rain started to fall just minutes later and they were forced back in to get their wets, but all emerged in the same 1-4 formation.

Button was firing, pulling 18 seconds clear of Rosberg by lap 27 but Glock, running on intermediate tyres, was clocking four seconds a lap faster and rapidly making inroads.

The leaders soon realised that's what they needed too and all went into the pits again but as soon as they came out it started raining again, so back in they went.

As the conditions worsened, the safety car was deployed and the red flag was raised.

The race was finally abandoned 50 minutes after it was first stopped.


Date created : 2009-04-05