KUALA LUMPUR: Formula One's experiment with twilight racing produced two grands prix that even the bravest of drivers ranked among the most dangerous of their careers.
Jenson Button won in Australia and Malaysia but, as the Briton pointed out when Sunday's race at Sepang was cut short by heavy rain, he had to follow the safety car into the last corner on both occasions.
In Melbourne eight days ago, it was the setting sun that caused the problems with drivers dazzled by the light and unable to see the kerbs and corner exits as they hurtled around the Albert Park circuit in the evening.
At Sepang, it was a full-blown tropical storm with thunder, lightning and so much rain falling in seconds that the track was awash with water.
Such conditions are entirely predictable at that time of day in the region. "At the time we stopped it was too dangerous. It was impossible to drive so it was the right decision to stop," said McLaren's world champion Lewis Hamilton.
"I think it was the most dangerous conditions I've ever raced in," added the 24-year-old Briton.
Both races started later than usual, at 1700 local, to accommodate television audiences in Europe while avoiding the expense of emulating the first floodlit night race in Singapore last season.
Several drivers expressed the opinion that the decision was fundamentally flawed.
"The race should either be held at night or in the day. It should not be somewhere in the middle, it's crazy," said Ferrari's Brazilian Felipe Massa, whose team left Malaysia without a point from either race.
"I don't think we thought it was a fantastic idea before," commented Button, whose win brought him only five points because more than half but less than 75 percent of the distance had been completed, when asked about the late start in Malaysia.
Others pointed out, however, that it also rained heavily in the early afternoon at Sepang and that the race had been affected by the weather in previous years.
"For me, one hour of what I saw is better than three or four hours of what I've previously seen," former team boss turned television pundit Eddie Jordan told Reuters.
"That was absolutely spellbinding racing.’’
"It was fantastic. I would rather have a race of that distance and it be as exciting as that than lots of other races that we've seen and been bored to death," added the Irish entrepreneur.
"While I understand the safety factor, Malaysia is somewhat special because of these thunderstorms at the end of the day ... you can be lucky or unlucky."
Rubens Barrichello, Button's Brawn GP teammate, agreed with that assessment.
"Malaysia always brings the best of the funny things ... You go to places like Hungary and although it is a great place to be, the track gives you no emotion. It's the same as Monaco," said the Brazilian, who started eighth and finished fifth.
"There's no overtaking and you're never going to have the overtaking. Even if this race was cut short, I had a chance to improve my (start) position."