A race that looked set to end in a points outcome at best for Timo Glock ended up delivering the young German his second podium finish in Formula 1 – after an inspired and courageous call to fit intermediate tyres rather than extreme wets when the heavens opened in the Malaysian Grand Prix paid off handsomely.
Having lining up third on the starting grid in Sepang, a tardy getaway dropped Glock five spots down to eighth on the opening lap, and from there he – like a number of other drivers and much as in Melbourne – found his ambitions halted by the fuel-heavy, KERS-equipped Renault of former double F1 World Champion Fernando Alonso, which by contrast had made a blinding getaway when the lights went out.
Despite a number of side-by-side duels – most notably with Mark Webber – and several close calls to-boot, no progress was able to be made until the first round of pit-stops. When the rain began to fall just a handful of laps later, however, a second pit visit would prove to be the turning-point in the erstwhile GP2 Series Champion's race, as he elected to take a punt on intermediates when the rest of the field was playing it safe on wets.
As the track conditions increasingly came towards him, so Glock's pace accelerated – to the extent that at one stage he was lapping ten seconds faster than leader Jenson Button, and beginning to look a very serious threat for victory indeed. Though his Brawn GP rival would make the switch just in time to hang onto his advantage, still the man from Lindenfels had played himself right into contention, and after a subsequent stop to change over to full wets as the rain worsened, he found himself in third position behind Button and BMW-Sauber compatriot Nick Heidfeld. And when the race was declared over, that was exactly where he would end up.
“It's fantastic to be back on the podium,” enthused the 27-year-old, having previously mounted the rostrum in Hungary last summer, “and I am really happy for the whole team. It was a really tricky race. I started third and was eighth at the end of the first lap. I struggled a bit behind the guys in front of me in dry conditions, but I made the right call on the intermediate tyres; I said 'let's just take the risk and go for it'.
“It was a long time before the rain really came down and I was not sure what everyone else was doing. They were struggling on the wets but I was really quick, and I made up a lot of positions. When the rain came down I had to go to heavy wets because my tyres were destroyed.
“I was going well on them and it was unlucky that they declared the results based on the order on the penultimate lap, because I could have had second. When the red flags came out I was second, but I'm still happy with the result.”
Frustrated not to have been able to join his team-mate up on the rostrum, though, was Jarno Trulli, who ran second from the start and battled energetically with both Rubens Barrichello and Nico Rosberg, keeping the Williams in sight over the first 15 laps and staving off the threat of recovering pole-sitter Button behind. Though briefly taking the lead, an extra pit visit by comparison with Glock would prove to be the Italian's undoing – but nonetheless fourth place in the final classification was enough to preserve his third spot in the drivers' title chase.
“I am happy for the team,” commented the 34-year-old, who set the race's third-fastest lap time, behind only the dominant Brawn GP duo. “I feel a bit unlucky this weekend – I missed pole position by a tenth, and it could have been an even better result for me. It was a good race and it was certainly eventful.