Jenson Button led home a McLaren one-two at an incident-packed Chinese Grand Prix as he won from his teammate Lewis Hamilton.
The race saw two safety car phases and a drive through penalty for two drivers.
Nico Rosberg in a Mercedes finished third ahead of Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso, who had four pit stops during the race, as well as a drive through penalty.
Button, who posted a time of one hour 46 minutes 42.163 seconds for the 56 laps of 5.451 kilometres for a total race distance of 305.066 kilometres, said that it had been a very special victory. “It really means a lot. It was a tricky race and we called it right.” He said that he had been a bit worried after the second safety car phase.
“My heart was in my mouth. After that I didn’t know what would happen. Later it started raining again and I made a mistake at the hairpin and ran wide.” Alonso seemed to have managed a perfect start, but was a few laps into the race shown to have jumped the start and was given a drive— through penalty, which saw him fall behind.
A crash involving Vitantonio Liuzzi in a Force India, Kamui Kobayashi in a BMW-Sauber and Toro Rosso driver Sebastian Buemi on the first lap resulted in the first safety car phase.
Several of the teams used the safety car phase to change to intermediate tyres, which resulted in Rosberg taking the lead from Button and Renault’s Robert Kubica when the safety car pulled in during the fourth lap.
Rosberg’s Mercedes however, did not have the power to withhold Button’s challenge and the Briton soon managed to overtake the German to take the lead.
On the 22nd lap a part of the front of the Toro Rosso of Jaime Alguersuari spilled onto the track, resulting in another safety car phase, which allowed the chasing pack to close up to Button and Rosberg, who at one stage had a 46-second lead.
After the restart, when the cars were bunching up behind the two race leaders, Hamilton seemed to push Mark Webber’s Red Bull off the track, prompting the Australian to complain over the team radio.
The Lotus of Jarno Trulli was also given a drive-through penalty, but retired soon afterwards.
As weather conditions — with rain starting and stopping — continued to play havoc with team strategies drivers had to come in a change tyres and by the 39th lap Hamilton and Alonso had already been into the pits four times.
With 16 of the 56 laps remaining, Hamilton had managed to overtake Rosberg to move into second place and he then started chasing his teammate who was leading the race.
Hamilton said that his race been a very eventful one. “Jenson made a better choice on the tyres. I chose very very late when I was halfway around the last corner and it clearly wasn’t the right choice.” Both McLaren cars were driving on worn-out tyres at the end, allowing the chasing Rosberg and Alonso to close the gap, but there were not enough laps left to see them overtake.
Kubica took fifth place ahead of Sebastian Vettel, who started from pole but fell behind after his pit stops.
The second Renault of Vitaly Petrov took seventh place, with Webber eighth. The final two point positions went to Felipe Massa in a Ferrari and seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher who finished 10th in his Mercedes.
The victory sees the reigning champion Button, who is the first to win twice this season, take over the lead in the drivers’ standing with 60 points from Rosberg, who has 50.
Race stewards said they would investigate an incident between Hamilton and Vettel, during a pit stop when it appeared that the McLaren was released too early. The investigation was to take place after the race.
Hamilton, when asked about the incident after the race, dismissed the question, “I’m not really sure what you are talking about. As far as I’m concerned everything is okay.” Vettel, on the other hand, disagreed. “I thought he was trying to slice open my tyres, that is how close he came.
The road was clearly not wide enough for the both of us. I am not quite sure why he felt he needed to increase speed.” The next race is the first of the European leg of the season and takes place in Barcelona on May 9.