The 2009 Malaysian Grand Prix was the first race in eighteen years to award half points after it was cut short due to horrendous weather conditions.
The second round of the season got underway on a dry track but with dark clouds looming in the distance. Jenson Button had secured pole position following Brawn GP’s fairy-tale start to the year in Australia, but he got a poor start off the line and dropped to fourth place through the first two corners.
Nico Rosberg had a clean start and powered into the lead. Jarno Trulli moved into second with the Renault of Fernando Alonso jumping up to third. However, the Spaniard was soon passed by Button as the Brit tried to claw his way back to the front. He was heavier on fuel in comparison to the leading duo and used the extra laps to his advantage, reclaiming the lead as he emerged from his first pit stop on lap 18.
The rain arrived on lap 19 but it was only light to start off with. Ferrari gambled and fitted the wet tires to Kimi Raikkonen’s car despite there being no standing water out on track. It didn’t pay off with the heavy rain failing to materialise when the Italian team had expected it to.
Timo Glock was running on the intermediate tire compound and it proved to be the right choice. He moved rapidly up to third and his fast lap times prompted the rest of the field to pit and fit the same Bridgestone rubber.
The majority of the field remained on the intermediate tyres until lap 31 when the heavens opened. Visibility soon became a real concern and drivers were struggling to keep the cars on the track. In the end, the race was red flagged on lap 33 with the results being taken from the classifications from two laps earlier.
For the first time since the 1991 Australian Grand Prix, half points were awarded as the race failed to reach the 75% (42 laps) distance. Jenson Button won the race, the third victory of his career, from Nick Heidfeld – who became the first driver to ever score a podium a KERS-powered car – and Timo Glock.
Most of the 2009 field backed the decision to stop the race due to terrible visibility, treacherous driving conditions and decreasing light due to the later start time. 2008 world champion Lewis Hamilton even said: “It was impossible to drive out there; it was very, very dangerous. It’s the most dangerous conditions I have ever raced in.”