SEPANG, Malaysia (Reuters) - Jenson Button splashed to victory in a chaotic, rain-shortened Malaysian Grand Prix on Sunday for his second triumph in two races for the new Brawn GP team.
Half points were awarded for only the fifth time in Formula One history because only 32 of the scheduled 56 laps had been completed before a torrential downpour turned the track into a lake.
With thunderclaps and lightning streaking across the darkened Sepang skies, making driving conditions impossible even behind the safety car, the race was red-flagged and then abandoned.
Button, who had again started from pole position after a Brawn one-two in the Australian season-opener last weekend, was leading behind the safety car when officials signalled the halt.
The Briton, who also won in Melbourne with the safety car deployed, had already made four pitstops in the changing conditions and was only third at the end of the opening lap after a slow start.
“What a crazy race, it really was,” said the 29-year-old after some slippery podium celebrations. “I still haven’t seen the chequered flag (this season) without the safety car in front.
“It was really bad conditions, you couldn’t actually see the circuit,” added Button, who now has three career wins.
Germany’s Nick Heidfeld was second, for the eighth time in a so far winless career, for BMW-Sauber, with compatriot Timo Glock third for Toyota with the results based on the positions at the end of the 31st lap.
Italian Jarno Trulli, who was third for Toyota in Melbourne, finished fourth ahead of Brawn’s Brazilian Rubens Barrichello and Red Bull’s Australian Mark Webber in sixth.
McLaren’s world champion Lewis Hamilton, at the centre of a furore after he and his team were found to have deliberately misled stewards in Australia, was seventh while Germany’s Nico Rosberg collected half a point for Williams in eighth.
“All I could do was try and keep the car on the track,” said Hamilton.
“It was the correct decision to stop the race because it was just too dangerous for everyone. I love it when it rains, but this was just too much.”
Rosberg, who had warned earlier in the week that the late-starting race was likely to be halted by the weather before the scheduled twilight finish, had led the first 15 laps until he pitted.
Champions Ferrari, still without a point from two races, had Brazilian Felipe Massa ninth and 2007 champion Kimi Raikkonen 14th after he changed to full wet tyres too early and paid a heavy price.
There was confusion after the race was abandoned, with drivers awaiting the unlikely chance of a re-start while the clock ticked towards the two-hour limit and the daylight faded.
With Glock ahead of Heidfeld at the red flag, there was also uncertainty about the final podium positions.
“My engineer told me: ‘You are P2 (second place)’ and then I came up here and I’m P3,” said a bemused Glock. “I’m fine with second,” replied Heidfeld.
The last race to be abandoned due to heavy rain was Australia in 1991 when the grand prix was halted after 14 of the 81 scheduled laps. Others have been cut short by accidents or re-started.
Editing by Clare Fallon; To query or comment on this story email firstname.lastname@example.org