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Button wins second F1 GP in a row
[Image: p24-a_32.jpg]
Winning around: Jenson Button (second right), Timo Glock (right), Nick Heidfeld (second left) and a Brawn GP race engineer celebrate on the podium after the Malaysian Formula One Grand Prix at the Sepang racetrack in Kuala Lumpur on Sunday. (AP/Oliver Multhaup)

Brawn GP’s charm boy Jenson Button won his second straight race Sunday at the Malaysian Grand Prix, shortened to 32 laps following a torrential downpour and descending darkness.

Race directors cut short the race 50 minutes after suspension as the light faded, following the late start at 5 p.m. instead of the usual 3 p.m., to better suit European TV audiences.

Because less than three-quarters of the scheduled 56 laps were completed, only half-points were awarded.

It was the first time this had happened in F1 since the Australian GP at Adelaide in 1991.
After winning the season-opening Australian GP a week ago, Button now leads the standings with 15 points. Teammate Rubens Barrichello, who finished fifth at Sepang, follows with 10.

Brawn, created only last month out after financially strapped Honda Racing pulled out of the championship, tops the constructor’s table with 25 points, with Toyota in second place with 16.5.

Button, who won his first in 2006, in Hungary, was leading when the rain began on the 22nd lap. He maintained his pace after having been in third spot on earlier laps behind leader Nico Rosberg of Williams and Toyota’s Jarno Trulli.

The red flag was pulled out after the expected rain started pouring heavily, followed by thunder and lightning as drivers began making wholesale pit stops to change their Bridgestone tires for a wet race.

This made the strategy for when to use the intermediates and wet tires — two types that reduce speed compared to those used in a dry race — become crucial in a such conditions.

In what later proved to be a flawed strategy, Kimi Raikkonen pitted on the 18th lap and Ferrari put him on wet tires, which reduced his speed early and eventually put the 2007 world champion, who had started in seventh position, 14th on the grid.

Both Ferrari’s Felipe Massa and Raikkonen finished out of the points, marking the first time since 1992 that the team was left pointless after the opening two races of the season.

Drivers agreed the decision to abandon the race, with the track awash in rain, was the right thing to do. Before the race, some had even complained about the twilight race, fearing poor visibility and safety.

“It wasn’t like a river out there, it was more like a lake,” Button, who once again started on pole position after Australia, said at the post-race press conference.

“It was too wet and the decision [to abandon the race] was correct.”

He added he had “wished it to be a boring race, but the rain certainly made it very exciting”.

“I’m glad I came out on top,” he added.

BMW Sauber’s Nick Heidfeld, who finished second behind Button, said it was the only call that could have been made.

“When it poured down, it was the right decision to stop the race. It was impossible to drive,” said the German, who had started in 10th position.

Third-placed Timo Glock of Toyota agreed, saying it was “unbelievable” and “impossible” to drive and that the decision to stop the race was the right call.

The teams now head to Shanghai for the Chinese Grand Prix on April 19.

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