Shanghai: Defending champion Jenson Button delivered a perfectly judged drive in treacherous wet conditions to win Sunday’s dramatic Chinese Grand Prix ahead of his McLaren team-mate Lewis Hamilton.
The two Britons delivered their first one-two of the season in sumptuous style to prove that though the Red Bull team may have the fastest car for qualifying, they retain great race performance.
Button’s triumph was his second in four races this season and the ninth of his career and it lifted him clear at the top of this year’s embryonic drivers’ championship ahead of German Nico Rosberg.
But if Button demonstrated smooth style and great management of tyres, it was Hamilton who produced the thrills and excitement in a race punctuated by rain-storms, accidents and two Safety Car periods.
Rosberg came home third for the new Mercedes team ahead of two-times champion Spaniard Fernando Alonso of Ferrari. Pole Robert Kubica was fifth for Renault and German Sebastian Vettel, who started from pole, was sixth for Red Bull.
Russian Vitaly Petrov proved his flair in the wet conditions to finish seventh for Renault ahead of Australian Mark Webber in the second Red Bull.
German Michael Schumacher, 41, making his comeback three seasons after retiring as a seven-times world champion, looked set to finish eighth until the closing laps when he was passed by Webber and then Brazilian Felipe Massa who took ninth for Ferrari. Schumacher was 10th.
The two Red Bulls started from the front row of the grid, but lost their advantage almost immediately when, after Alonso had jumped the start, the first Safety Car call was followed by rain.
The leaders rushed to pit for intermediate wet-weather tyres but these were soon worn out and the changing conditions created chaos ahead of a second mid-race Safety Car period.
Button, having chosen not to rush for an early change of tyres, rose to second and then took the lead from Rosberg after 19 of the 56 laps and stayed there.
The result gave McLaren their first one-two finish since the Italian Grand Prix at Monza in 2001. Button now leads the title race on 60 points ahead of Rosberg on 50 with Alonso and Hamilton equal third on 49.
We're building him (RvP) up now because of the World Cup. It’s a pity but we have to or he’ll never be fit.
Louis van Gaal