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Malaysia race analysis - canny Brawn rule thunder road 06 Apr 2009

Race winner Jenson Button (GBR) Brawn Grand Prix celebrates his victory
Formula One World Championship, Rd 2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Race, Sepang, Malaysia, Sunday, 5 April 2009 Nick Heidfeld (GER) BMW Sauber F1.09 passes Timo Glock (GER) Toyota TF109.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Race, Sepang, Malaysia, Sunday, 5 April 2009 Timo Glock (GER) Toyota celebrates his third position with the team.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Race, Sepang, Malaysia, Sunday, 5 April 2009 Kazuki Nakajima (JPN) Williams on the grid as the race is stopped.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Race, Sepang, Malaysia, Sunday, 5 April 2009 (L to R): Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren MP4/24 and Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull Racing RB5 battle for position.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Race, Sepang, Malaysia, Sunday, 5 April 2009

That Brawn GP won for the second time in Malaysia was no great shock in itself. That they won in such stormy, unpredictable conditions - with a car that had never run in the rain before - was perhaps more surprising. As was the fact that Ferrari and McLaren came away with just a point between them.

Two races into the championship and Brawn, Toyota and Williams - the three teams running controversial diffusers - have established themselves as the 'new power generation', with last year’s title contenders left licking their wounds. We take a team-by-team look at how things panned out at Sepang…

Jenson Button, P1
Rubens Barrichello, P5

When Button was only third at the end of the first lap it seemed like Brawn had a fight on their hands. But the moment Rosberg and Trulli made their first it stops, he lapped a second quicker than anyone else had up to that point and then dominated, despite the need for three pits stops. This was as much a triumph for Brawn as it was for Button, and the whole package gelled beautifully. Barrichello made a great start, was less fortunate in all his pit stops, but was a good fifth to help them extend their constructors’ championship lead.

BMW Sauber
Nick Heidfeld, P2
Robert Kubica, retired lap two, engine

Good news and bad came for BMW Sauber. They lost Kubica to an engine-related problem by the second lap, but Heidfeld produced another of his canny drives on a heavy fuel load and was perfectly placed to grab a good helping of points when the rain was at its very worst.

Timo Glock, P3
Jarno Trulli, P4

With Trulli hounding early leader Rosberg initially, a Toyota victory seemed a possibility at one stage. When the rain came the Italian fell back on wet tyres just as team mate Glock’s brave decision to run intermediate Bridgestones paid off handsomely. Glock was actually second when the race was red flagged, but lost the place to Heidfeld on countback. Nevertheless, with third and fourth places, Toyota held on to their second place in the constructors’ championship.

Red Bull
Mark Webber, P6
Sebastian Vettel P15

Webber could have scored better points than sixth with a little better fortune, after a strong showing all race, while Vettel ran well on a light fuel load early on but later spun and cursed his car’s anti-stall system for hampering his ability to restart.

Lewis Hamilton, P7
Heikki Kovalainen, Retired lap one, spun off

Hamilton fought all the way for his point for seventh, keeping up well with cars on lighter fuel loads early on and benefiting from the way the cards fell in regard to the arrival of the rain and his first pit call on lap 22. Kovalainen fell off in Turn Five on the opening lap, and admitted it was his error.

Nico Rosberg, P8
Kazuki Nakajima, P12

Rosberg could rightly feel robbed to have finished only eighth after leading so confidently from the start, but this was simply one of those frustrating days when conditions and circumstances just didn’t go Williams’ way. At least they know their car is very good, even if Nakajima was unable to muster anything that echoed Rosberg’s performance.

Felipe Massa, P9
Kimi Raikkonen, P14

Massa struggled from the start to get higher than the midfield, and then like many others opted for full wet tyres in expectation of rain, only to find that intermediates would have been better. By the time he switched again, it was time to use the deeply grooved rubber. Raikkonen was even worse off, as Ferrari gambled with wets four laps before the relatively light rain arrived. Another disastrous race for Ferrari, and still no points on the board.

Toro Rosso
Sebastien Bourdais, P10
Sebastien Buemi, P16

Bourdais needed to refuel before the rain came and thus gambled on wets the way that Raikkonen did. It didn’t work any better for him than it did for the Finn, so he switched to inters, then back again to wets. With all that he did well to take 10th. Buemi could not match his Australian result after going off in Turn Five after 30 laps.

Fernando Alonso, P11
Nelson Piquet, P13

Alonso made a great start thanks to KERS and looked strong for a while until the pursuers of his fourth place pushed through when he ran wide. Later he slid off the road and was unable to finish better than 11th. Piquet trailed him in 13th.

Force India
Adrian Sutil, P17
Giancarlo Fisichella, P18

Sutil did what everyone else did and complained about how dire the conditions were once it rained, but otherwise had a relatively problem-free run. Fisichella rued switching too soon to wets and destroying the tyres as a result. He also went off the road twice.