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GP Week : Issue 40
>>F1MALAYSIA just such a fashion. Jenson Button took his second victory of the season after another brilliant drive for BrawnGP. From there back it was just a matter of luck – right tyres, right time and place ... Button was followed by Nick Heidfeld in the BMW Sauber and N Timo Glock for Toyota when the deluge came and the race was red flagged, with half points awarded to all points scoring drivers after a thrilling race. And what a race … well, half a race, it had been. With the threat of torrential rain looming large as the cars lined up on the grid, it was Nico Rosberg who got the best start, screaming into the lead at the first corner from fourth on the grid, and pulling out a comfortable lead over Jarno Trulli and Button after a crazy first lap, during which the top order changed at almost every corner. By the time Rosberg made the first pitstop of the leaders on lap 14 he was followed by Trulli, Button, Barrichello, Raikkonen, Webber, Alonso and Glock. Rosberg took on new slicks, in a trend followed by all his main rivals, other than Raikkonen who quite bizarrely took on full wets a good 12 laps before rain really started to fall. With the Finn losing 20 seconds a lap, the time was clearly not quite right for a move onto the more extreme rubber, despite the fact that, with 19 laps gone, spots of rain started to fall around the track. Button stopped on that 19th lap, putting on slicks, and emerged in the lead ahead of Rosberg and Trulli, but three laps later the rain started to fall around the full circuit and all the leaders came back in for wet tyres. The decision taken by most was to go for full wets, other than Glock who risked inters. It was an inspired choice and the German, who had fallen to 15th, started to make his way through the field. Five laps later, Rosberg realised his error in running full wets and switched to inters, dropping him down the order, and over the next few laps the majority of the field switched onto the less extreme ‘Inter’ tyre. But no sooner had they done that, than the rain started to pour down in relentless fashion, as a full on monsoon hit the track. On lap 31 everyone who could make it back to the pits changed onto full wet weather tyres, with Button emerging in the lead from Heidfeld, Glock, Trulli, Barrichello, Webber, Hamilton and Rosberg. Although the order changed over the next lap, with Glock taking second position from Heidfeld at the first corner, the Safety Car was brought out and the race red flagged. The results from the penultimate lap would stand, and half points were awarded. It was a shame that what had been a fascinating and thrilling race should end with such a whimper. Notable drives came not only from Rosberg, Glock, Heidfeld and Button, but from Webber especially, who showed stunning ‘full wets’pace and, but for the lottery nature of the outcome, could justly have taken a podium. So, for the first time since the 1991 Australian Grand Prix, Formula 1 had a half points race. Had the race started a few hours earlier, who knows how it might have turned out. It may not have been half as exciting, but it might well have been twice as long ... 31 OT for 18 years had a Grand Prix been cut short and half points awarded, but the 2009 Malaysian Grand Prix, through a combination of a later start time and the unpredictable Malaysian weather, was decided in