SHANGHAI (AP) — Jenson Button gambled on tire strategy to win the Chinese Grand Prix on Sunday, beating teammate Lewis Hamilton for a 1-2 finish for McLaren.
Button, the reigning world champion, vaulted to the top of the Formula One standings by employing some cool-headed decision making amid the chaos of changing weather conditions which forced most drivers to pit at least four times. Button, by contrast, made only two stops.
Rain began to fall just before the race started, yet all the cars started on dry-weather tires. A dampening track soon forced a critical decision. Many of the leaders elected to change to wet-weather tires after a couple of laps, while Button, and third-place finisher Nico Rosberg chose to stay out on dry-weather tires.
Drivers who had changed to wet-weather ones soon found the treaded tires were wearing quickly and after three or four more laps, returned to the pits to change back. That allowed Button, Rosberg and Renault's Robert Kubica to dash to the front.
"It was my best race victory," Button said. "This one was pretty special because it was very tough conditions.
"It was a tricky race out there and again we called it right," Button said. "It was not just about being quick, it's about reading the conditions.
"Sometimes you have to take those risks. That is what won us the race — being on the right tire and the right time made all the difference."