Malesia 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. Rain is in the air.'” And the rain came. But just how crucial the heavy storm at the 2009 Malaysia Grand Prix was for the rest of the race and the final result is now shown in the Formula 1 documentary “Brawn: The Impossible Formula 1 Story” by Disney+.

In the miniseries moderated by actor Keanu Reeves, Button recalls the sudden onset of heavy rain: “It was one of those situations where you can either 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 it starts pouring rain shortly after the halfway point 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 officials show the red flags.

Button leads – and has no idea

Button is leading the race at this moment and parks his car at the front of the track. Then the waiting game begins, whether the weather improves or not.

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

Team boss Ross Brawn, however, 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 took off and tilted the steering wheel [on Button’s car], all the water came pouring out. This car wouldn’t have driven a meter from there.”

It later became clear that “the steering wheel hadn’t been properly sealed. It’s full of electronics because it’s the control center of a Formula 1 car. But computers and water just don’t mix well…” And a simple steering wheel replacement wouldn’t have been enough.

The weather ultimately leads Brawn to victory

Despite the tense moments, the rain that put Brawn in this situation ultimately proves to be a blessing: The Grand Prix is not resumed, and Button wins the aborted race.

For the Brawn driver, it’s his second victory in the second race of the season, although he only receives half points for the Malaysia triumph. However, the result solidifies his lead in the overall standings for the 2009 World Championship, which he will not relinquish until the end of the season.

However, something still goes wrong for Brawn: the winner’s champagne bottle slips through the hands of the mechanic who was supposed to catch it as it was handed down from the podium. So, there’s no champagne for the Brawn crew. But for the engineers, there is the satisfaction of having averted a disaster under the special circumstances.