Monday, April 6, 2009

In Malaysia, it pours when it rains

In a race suspended by officials in lap 33 of 56 due to torrential rain in monsoon-plague Sepang, Jenson Button of Brawn GP won round 2 of the FIA Formula 1 World Championship, the Malaysian Grand Prix. Starting on pole position, the British driver looked to have given his spot to race challengers from Toyota and BMW in turn 1's melee but a slight drizzle which eventually turned into a downpour had everybody scrambling for extreme wet weather tires while others with intermediates allowing Button to regain the lead. Where were the powerhorses of last year this time? In the back of the grid, of course!

BIGGEST GAINER: Nick Heidfeld of BMW, 2nd place. Starting on P10, the German driver opted to race with a 1-stop strategy with a heavy fuel load, changing to intermediates soon thereafter when rain started, jumping the gun on race drivers running on extreme wets (heavily grooved tires good for wet weather racing but degrades fast when running on hot tracks). The tract today had some parts dry and some parts wet before the deluge so Heidfeld's choice of intermediate wet weather tires was a good call.

BIGGEST LOSER: Ferrari. After a disappointing entry into the Australian GP last week, the Scuderia team's misery continue to pile up. First with Felipe Massa's tactical error in qualifying yesterday relegating him to the back of the grid on race day. Then the flying Fin, Kimi Raikkonen, failing to defend his middle row placing with his underpowered Ferrari. After round 2, neither man nor team has scored points. Ouch!

MOST CONTROVERSIAL. Lewis Hamilton, McLaren Mercedes. After race stewards elevated his status to 3rd from 4th in last week's Australian GP following a controversial overtaking by Jarno Trulli of Toyota with the safety car on, new evidence surfaced that Lewis slowed down, upon the advise of his racing team, to let Trulli pass earning the ire of race stewards. Hamilton was stripped of his 3rd place finish and was rendered as Unclassified. Hmmm...

Round 3: April 19, Shanghai.

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