Malese 2009: Brawn svela un dettaglio esplosivo

( – Jenson Button had a premonition when he saw the dark clouds over the racetrack before the start. “I thought to myself, ‘There’s something coming. There’s rain in the air.'” And the rain came. But just how crucial the severe storm was for the Malaysia Grand Prix 2009, and the subsequent race outcome, is now shown in the Formula 1 documentary “Brawn: The Impossible Formula 1 Story” by Disney+.

In the miniseries hosted by actor Keanu Reeves, Button remembers the sudden heavy rain: “It was one of those situations where you can win or lose the race. Depending on how you decide. It’s a mental thing in Formula 1.”

And some drivers are not up to this challenge when the rain starts pouring shortly after half of the race: Sebastian Vettel in the Red Bull is one of the protagonists who loses control of his car on the slippery track and spins off. Others manage to crawl back to the start and finish line, after the race management showed red flags.

Button leads – and has no idea

Button leads the race at this moment and parks his car at the front of the finish straight. Then the waiting game begins to see if the weather improves or not.

A few meters away from Button’s Brawn BGP 001, engineers suddenly panic. A technical issue has occurred at Button’s car. However, Button is unaware: “I’ve been sitting in the car for about 30 minutes waiting. At that point, the team had not told me that there could be a problem.”

Team principal Ross Brawn, on the other hand, was aware: “We knew we couldn’t finish the race.”

The rain disrupts the electronics

The heavy rain had affected the Brawn technology, as former Brawn race strategist James Vowles explains in hindsight: “I don’t know if we ever made this public, but when we removed and tipped the steering wheel [of Button’s car], water poured out. This car would not have driven any further.”

It later turns out, according to Brawn, that “the steering wheel had not been properly sealed. It is full of electronics, as it is the control center of a Formula 1 car. But computers and water just don’t mix well…” And a simple steering wheel change would not have solved the issue.

The weather eventually leads Brawn to victory

The rain that brought Brawn into this situation ultimately proves to be a blessing: The Grand Prix is not resumed, Button wins the race stoppage.

For the Brawn driver, it is his second win in the second race of the season, although he only receives half points for the Malaysia triumph. But the result solidifies his lead in the 2009 overall championship, which he will not relinquish until the end of the season.

Despite the stroke of luck, something still goes wrong for Brawn: The winner’s champagne bottle slips through the hands of the mechanic trying to catch it when reaching down from the podium. So, no champagne for the Brawn crew. But for the engineers, it is the certainty that they have averted a disaster in the special circumstances.