Alonso’s mega-start and Button’s killer laps (Malaysian Grand Prix analysis)

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

Fernando Alonso passed six cars on lap one
Fernando Alonso passed six cars on lap one

Here’s a closer look at some of the outstanding moments of the Malaysian Grand Prix: Fernando Alonso’s incredible getaway, Jenson Button’s race-winning pace, and Timo Glock’s inspired switch to intermediate tyres.

Lap 1: Alonso’s terrific start

Malaysian Grand Prix position change on lap 1 (click to enlarge)
Malaysian Grand Prix position change on lap 1 (click to enlarge)

Fernando Alonso blasted his Renault R29 off the start line with indecent speed given its truck-like appearance and handling. He actually made up six places at the start, rising from ninth to third. But he was re-passed by Jenson Button half way around lap one, knocking him back to a still-impressive fourth.

That pass by Button turned out to be absolutely crucial to the Brawn driver’s hopes of victory. Team mate Rubens Barrichello was stuck behind Alonso for an extra couple of laps, and the extra time it cost him meant he had no chance to use his longer first stint to jump into the lead.

Lap 18: The real speed of the BGP001

Jenson Button, Jarno Trulli and Nico Rosberg (click to enlarge)
Jenson Button, Jarno Trulli and Nico Rosberg (click to enlarge)

Was this the first time this season Jenson Button unleashed the full potential of Brawn’s BGP001? Stuck in third place behind Jarno trulli, but in sight of leader Nico Rosberg, he was content to lap away in the mid-37s. Once the cars in front of him had pitted on lap 18 unleashed a fastest lap a full second quicker than his pace up to that point.

His in-lap (19) was similarly rapid – a second quicker than Rosberg’s and 1.5 faster than Trulli’s. Job done.

Laps 26-30: Glock’s perfect gamble

Timo Glock on intermediate tyres (click to enlarge)
Timo Glock on intermediate tyres (click to enlarge)

Having lost out badly at the start of the race (see above), Timo Glock brought himself back into play by gambling on intermediate tyres when the rain first began to fall.

At one stage he was cutting up to ten seconds per laps out of the leaders. While the rest hastily followed him onto the shallower-grooved tyres the weather began to turn – and the canny Glock got himself onto full wet tyres at exactly the right time.

The race result was eventually declared based on the standings on lap 31 – hard luck for Glock, who’d passed Nick Heidfeld for second on the ‘phantom’ 32nd lap.

Full race history and lap charts

Malaysian Grand Prix race history (click to enlarge)
Malaysian Grand Prix race history (click to enlarge)
2009 Malaysian Grand Prix lap chart (click to enlarge)
2009 Malaysian Grand Prix lap chart (click to enlarge)