Nick Heidfeld has revealed that a cautious strategy paid off in the long run as he vaulted onto the second step of the podium at the end of the rain-affected Malaysian Grand Prix.

Having endured an opening day that had observers questioning whether the BMW Sauber team would be a factor for points, let alone the podium, the German veteran came into his own when the rain came down on race day, using a mixture of ability and canny calling on tyres to find himself in second spot when the results were finalised.

Not entirely immune to the conditions - he had one moment when he went off and allowed both Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton through - Heidfeld admitted that it was a last-minute decision to stay out on the full wet tyre that enabled him to leap-frog others who had made multiple stops to change rubber.

"I think it was a very difficult race in these conditions," he reported, "I took the right tyre choice - well, not the perfect tyre choice as I went straight to extremes - but there is normally heavy rainfall here.

"I tried to preserve my tyres at the beginning, and some other guys were quicker than me on the extreme wets, but I knew that, if the rain starts, then hopefully I can stay out. Some people were driving away from me, but I knew that they would kill their tyres and, if it would start drizzling or raining a bit more, I would then have the tyre and I would be able to stay out.

"The team told me there was heavy rain expected and I told them that inters would be a lot quicker [at that point]. The team told me all the time 'heavy rain expected in the next two minutes', but it just didn't happen, didn't happen, didn't happen. Then, just when they told me to pit, it started to rain heavier and just 200 metres from the pit entry, I said 'no, no I stay out as it starts to rain more heavy'. That was the right call, a bit lucky, obviously, but stopping once worked out."

Even when the safety car first came out, the conditions proved to be tricky, with Heidfeld admitting to a minor indiscretion that allowed Timo Glock to move into second place on the road.

"My rear tyres were destroyed completely and were slicks basically," Heidfeld revealed, "When it started to rain, I just tried to stay on the circuit. The safety car was out already, and the pits told me that I should observe the safety car's speed - which we have on the dash - and not go quicker than that. And I was laughing, telling them that I would be happy if I could go that quick.

"There was already a car which had spun there, so I thought 'okay, I will go as slow as possible', but it was aquaplaning not only on the tyres but also on the plank. I spun and I was happy that I didn't go into the gravel. I don't think it would have mattered in the end anyway, because the result was taken from a lap earlier, but that shows that it was the right thing to stop the race because it was just undriveable."


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