SEPANG, Malaysia (Reuters) - Jenson Button knew Sunday’s Malaysian Grand Prix had to be stopped almost as soon as the safety car was deployed with only 31 of the 56 laps completed.
“When the safety car is pulling away at 20 seconds a lap, you know that it’s too wet for an F1 car,” said the race-winner.
The race at Sepang became only the fifth since the championship started in 1950 to have half-points awarded. Few were surprised by the outcome, given the late start and Malaysia’s reputation for evening storms.
Button, who has now chalked up two wins in a row to lead the championship with 15 points, joined others in praising officials for making the right call.
At Japan’s Fuji circuit two years ago the drivers had struggled to keep their cars on the track in atrocious conditions but in Malaysia the decision to red-flag proceedings was almost immediate.
“It wasn’t like it was rivers, it was a lake,” said Button, who also won in Australia last weekend with the safety car deployed on the final lap.
“It was really bad conditions and you could not actually see the circuit. I mean it was that bad. We were behind the safety car and my team, who did a fantastic job, said all you have got to do is drive around and that was difficult enough.
“A few moments I was almost off the circuit...the safety car was pulling away from us.
“The race was way too wet and I think that the call was correct,” he added.
“It rained so hard so quickly that I think they did the right thing. It was very difficult for them to judge how wet the circuit is and in Fuji, for me, two years ago it was too wet. But this year I think they made the right call to stop it at the right time.”
After the red flags came out, there was a wait for a possible re-start before that too was abandoned as time ran out and the light went.
Button, now with three wins under his belt, said he was glad there had been no attempt to go out again.
“We were always planning for a re-start...but the problem was that so many cars spun off on the last lap that I think it was very difficult understanding who was in what position,” he said.
“So that’s why we were all moving around a lot on the grid...I am happy it didn’t start again because we would have spent 10 laps behind the safety car and every lap and every corner you’d be scared that you were going to throw it off the road,” he added.
“I would love to have the 10 points but this is the best we could have done...You have to think about the safety sometimes. I am here to race as we all are but there are limits to what we can do with the cars that we have.”
Editing by Clare Fallon; To query or comment on this story email firstname.lastname@example.org