Monsoon like conditions put a premature end to Sunday’s Malaysian Grand Prix. What was looking to be a climactic race finish, came to an abrupt end and Jenson Button scored Brawn GP’s second win in as many races.
A testament to Ross Brawn’s strategic genius, Jenson Button and the Brawn GP judged everything perfectly to win, while tyre gambles paid big dividends for Nick Heidfeld and Timo Glock.
Despite the chaotic weather, it would have been a brave person to bet against Button not wining if the race had continued. Positions could have quite easily changed further down the field, with Timo Glock perhaps moving to second and Ferrari’s Felipe Massa advancing into the points.
Button had a poor start, allowing Nico Rosberg, Jarno Trulli and Fernando Alonso to overtake by the first corner. Once the field had settled Rosberg continued to set the pace building a substantial lead of around three seconds.
Button, who was clearly carrying the biggest fuel load, picked up speed and stayed close to Trulli through the opening stint. Once the Toyota had pitted along with Rosberg’s Williams, Button used the two extra laps of fuel he had to put in one of the most impressive drives of his career.
This drive was the first time we got to see just how fast Brawn GP really is, and how, if continued on this pace, Jenson Button can be world champion. Jenson pushed incredibly hard to overtake Trulli and Rosberg while in the pits, once setting a fastest lap almost a second faster than anyone else. The result put Button ahead with an outstanding lead.
Dark clouds began to form over the Sepang circuit, and neither drivers nor teams knew when rain was about to fall.
Ferrari took the gamble to put Kimi Raikkonen on full-wet tyres early in the hope that heavy rain would hit almost immediately and potentially give Kimi a distinct advantage to move to the head of the field.
It turned out to be the wrong decision. Raikkonen telling his team on the radio that his tyres were “completely destroyed” after a few laps on dry tarmac.
Jenson Button continued to lead as himself and other drivers began to pit for wet tyres. Teams expected it to rain hard but it didn’t and surprisingly it was the German, Timo Glock in his Toyota that looked as though he was about to spoil Button’s chances.
Glock opted for Intermediate tyres, which proved to be the best option on the damp circuit.
The Toyota speedily moved up the field, and as other teams noticed his progress and called their drivers in for a tyre change, Glock built up a big enough advantage to overtake Button in the pit lane.
It was short lived however, Button overtaking Glock only a couple of laps later.
Shortly afterwards, heavy rain fell and the race was suspended. Button awarded the win but every point scoring driver had to settle for half points as the race was finished early.
In an interview with Jenson after the race, he said his car wasn’t very well balanced in the wet. Well, he could have fooled us! He drove masterfully through the hectic conditions, worthy enough of a world champion.
It seems that the Brackley based team are the ones to beat. A second Grand Prix victory adds enormous credibility to Brawn GP and proves they’re not just a one hit wonder. The car appears to be on average seven tenths quicker per lap than the rest of the field.
Other teams are going to have to work quickly to catch up, otherwise could Ross Brawn deliver the same sort of dominance seen in the Michael Schumacher days?