'It was impossible, I was aquaplaning everywhere'

There were strong feelings this time around that the decision to put the race start back from its usual 3pm to 5pm, in order to maximise the global television audience, was an open invitation to the chaos that duly ensued in Sepang.

A spokesman for the Malaysian organisers said: "The authorities were advised that the latest practical time to start the race, and to have a chance of avoiding the rain, was 16.30, but in any case it usually rains between 17.00 and 18.00 here this time of year."

This time the rain arrived just before 18.00, when the race was on its 22nd lap, just under an hour after the start. So was it wise to start it so late? "The race was way, way too late, so the call to stop it was correct," race winner Jenson Button said. "The rain fell so hard, so quickly, that I think they did the right thing. It is very difficult for the race managers to judge how wet a circuit is. I thought it was too wet at Fuji two years ago, but this time I think they made the right call."

The twilight start for next year's Grand Prix in Malaysia will be reviewed, it was announced yesterday. "In the future, we may allocate a different time, perhaps earlier," new Prime Minister Najib Razak said.

World champion Lewis Hamilton said: "It was impossible to drive – it was aquaplaning everywhere and it was very dangerous. I think it was the most dangerous conditions I've ever raced in. When they stopped it, that was correct, it was dangerous for everyone. It was the right decision."

Runner-up Nick Heidfeld agreed. "It was roughly the right time to stop it. My tyres were worn so for me it was a good call. Someone with newer tyres might have said it could have gone another lap or two... The safety car was out for maybe 20 seconds, then the red flag came, so I think that was right. It was very clearly impossible to drive on in a restart if the rain had kept as strong as it was when the race was stopped, so it was the right decision not to continue, and by then it was dark in any case, so there was no chance to carry on."

Adding further perspective to the conditions with which the drivers had to cope, Button said: "It was such an exciting race, but to be honest I'd rather have a boring one, but we came out on top, so I'm very happy. At the end, the conditions were really bad and you couldn't really see the circuit."

Rain halts play: Stopped races

This is the fifth time a race has been stopped and only half points awarded.

In 1975, the Spanish GP was halted after 29 laps when Rolf Stommelen crashed into the crowd, killing a photographer and four spectators. That same year, conditions in the Austrian GP became so bad that the race was red-flagged after 29 laps.

Ayrton Senna believed he had scored his first victory, at Monaco in 1984. But deteriorating conditions meant the race had been stopped and Senna was outraged to find the win had been awarded to Alain Prost.

The 1991 Australian GP lasted only 19 laps before rain triggered a rash of accidents. This time Senna was awarded the victory.

News
Kenny Ireland, pictured in 2010.
peopleActor, from House of Cards and Benidorm, was 68
News
A scene from the video shows students mock rioting
newsEnd-of-year leaver's YouTube film features staging of a playground gun massacre
Travel
travel
Environment
View from the Llanberis Track to the mountain lake Llyn
Du’r Arddu
environmentA large chunk of Mount Snowdon, in north Wales, is up for sale
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Voices
A family sit and enjoy a quiet train journey
voicesForcing us to overhear dull phone conversations is an offensive act, says Simon Kelner
News
i100This Instagram photo does not prove Russian army is in Ukraine
News
Morrissey pictured in 2013
people
Sport
sportVan Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
filmReview: Sometimes the immersive experience was so good it blurred the line between fiction and reality
Arts and Entertainment
Sydney and Melbourne are locked in a row over giant milk crates
art
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
The cast of The Big Bang Theory in a still from the show
tvBig Bang Theory filming delayed by contract dispute over actors' pay
Life and Style
The director of Wall-E Andrew Stanton with Angus MacLane's Lego model
gadgetsDesign made in Pixar animator’s spare time could get retail release
News
peopleGuitarist, who played with Aerosmith, Lou Reed and Alice Cooper among others, was 71
Environment
Tyred out: should fair weather cyclists have a separate slow lane?
environmentFormer Labour minister demands 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists
News
people
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices