Mark Webber matched his career-best result, second place in China, after a typically gritty performance in which he had to push hard all the way to have a chance of snatching the position from team-mate Sebastian Vettel.
"It was a very good afternoon for me," the Australian said. "I knew that I had to hang on as long as possible in the first stint. It worked out pretty well and I managed to go a lap longer and save fuel, which helped me gain some time. I knew Sebastian's strategy so there was a chance to get another position. It was just a question which of us would get second.
"My second stint was crucial, I had to push really hard, and it turned out well for us. I did enough damage then to be able to jump Sebastian, and towards the end we just turned the engine down and brought the car home."
The race was a disaster for Rubens Barrichello, who had qualified in third place and hoped that his position on the clean side of the grid might favour him over team-mate Button who has overshadowed him all season.
A problem with the clutch right from the start sent him backwards, however, as his Brawn went into anti-stall mode, and he ended the first lap in 12th place. Later he spun while fighting over 11th place with Heikki Kovalainen's McLaren, and damaged his front wing after a clash with Adrian Sutil's Force India.
Subsequently he became Brawn's first retirement of the season, with ongoing transmission problems on the 47th lap.
"It was a difficult and immensely frustrating day for me today. We had the problem with the clutch at the start and that dropped me back into the pack. To complicate things further, I was hitting the rev limiter on the straights which meant that I couldn't overtake and had to take risks.
"So it was an eventful first half of the race as I tried to compensate for the problems and I had a couple of incidents with other cars.
"I was prepared to fight my way up the field but the damage caused to the gearbox by the problems at the start began to get worse so the team had to retire my car."
Nor was it a rewarding race for world champion Lewis Hamilton, who could only muster 13th place in a highly uncompetitive McLaren that was very nearly a lap down by the finish. "I actually enjoyed myself this afternoon," he said. "I was very heavy at the start but I just pushed and pushed. That's why I can smile – because I think I drove to my full potential.
"The most important thing is for us to keep our heads up and to keep pushing. I see my role from now on as helping the team to cure the problems with this year's car and to make next year's car the best it can possibly be. When the team gives me a car to win, I will win."