Another bold call on tyres gave Jenson Button a second win of the 2010 F1 season, the reigning world champion coming from fifth on the grid to claim both the Chinese GP and the overall points lead.
The forecast rain arrived just before the race start, but was only heavy enough to make teams think about switching to intermediate tyres while the safety car was circulating on lap two. Button, however, was among the few to opt to remain on slicks and, when he managed to pass leader Nico Rosberg on lap 19, the Briton put himself in position to repeat his Melbourne victory from round two.
While others made repeated stops to cope with the changing conditions, Button sailed on and had enough in hand to make his own switch to intermediates during a second shower and rejoin in front. That pattern was repeated 18 laps from the end, even though a re-appearance of the safety car had bunched the field in the McLaren man’s wake.
A rare mistake on near bald rubber in the closing stages was a mere blip for Button, who again had enough in hand to rejoin in first place, and he soldiered on the flag to open out a healthy championship advantage.
Second place switched hands in the final third of the race, with Rosberg succumbing to a charging Lewis Hamilton shortly after taking on his final set of tyres. Hamilton had been among those to make an ill-judged early stop for inters, but battled back, aided by the safety car, to be in contention for the win until his tyres went off with the chequered flag in reach. Despite also having a moment in the final few laps, the Briton held station behind Button to give McLaren a 1-2 result – and Britain its first similar result since David Coulthard and Eddie Irvine finished at the front in Austria in 1999.
Rosberg closed back in on the 2008 world champion towards the end, but ultimately had to settle for third, as Mercedes swept the podium, while Fernando Alonso claimed fourth, despite making five pit-stops – including one for blatantly jumping the start.
The pacesetting Red Bulls were nowhere after getting caught out by the tyre changes and then a nightmare second restart, with Sebastian Vettel only sixth, behind the consistent Robert Kubica. Mark Webber lost a place late on to the second Renault of Vitaly Petrov, while Felipe Massa got the better of Michael Schumacher within sight of the flag to take ninth spot.