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Thursday, April 9, 2009

Button and Brawn victorious after rain stops play in Malaysia

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It was always likely that the rain would affect Sunday's Malaysian Grand Prix, but nobody expected the precipitation to play such a key role in a race that was full of excitement. The management of pit stops proved crucial as conditions changed and Brawn GP's Jenson Button won amid much confusion as the race was red flagged after 32 laps.

Button was leading when the expected rain finally arrived on the 22nd lap, despite making a second pit call (the first had been on the 19th lap) to switch from his second set of soft compound Bridgestones to wets. He resumed still in the lead and continued that way until it became clear just how fast Toyota's Timo Glock was going on intermediates after his stop on Lap 22. Button swept back in on Lap 29 for inters, and grabbed the lead back from Glock as the Toyota dived in at the end of Lap 30 for wets.

The conditions had changed again, so in came Button for a third time on lap 31 to go back to the deeply grooved rubber. He resumed in the lead again as Glock battled with BMW Sauber's Nick Heidfeld for second place, and that was when race director Charlie Whiting decided that it was time for the safety car. A lap later, out went the red flag. Confusion reigned.

Up to that point, the Malaysian Grand Prix had been a gripper.

Button made a poor start and was engulfed by Williams' Nico Rosberg, who made a super getaway. Button tried to run round the outside of him in Turn One and lost out also to Toyota's Jarno Trulli, and Renault's Fernando Alonso got in on the act briefly too before Button snatched back third before the lap was over.

Further back, Rubens Barrichello had sprinted up to fifth in the second Brawn car ahead of Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen, Red Bull's Mark Webber, Glock, Heidfeld and McLaren's Lewis Hamilton.

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