Button bounces back to snatch last-lap win in Canada

2011 Canadian Grand Prix report

Jenson Button, McLaren, Montreal, 2011

Jenson Button, McLaren, Montreal, 2011

Jenson Button scored an sensational victory in the Canadian Grand Prix, passing Sebastian Vettel on the last lap.

He bounced back after two collisions, with Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso, and a drive-through penalty.

A last-lap mistake by Vettel allowed Button to win having run 22nd at one point.

The rain had stopped before the race got underway but Charlie Whiting decided to start the race behind the safety car on the wet track. The cars circulated for four laps before the pack was released.

Sebastian Vettel came under attack from Fernando Alonso immediately but he repelled the attack.

Further back Mark Webber was attacked more aggressively by Lewis Hamilton, who tipped the Red Bull into a spin at the first corner.

Hamilton fell behind Michael Schumacher while avoiding Webber’s spinning car but was soon on his tail, trying to pass the Mercedes around the outside of the Casino hairpin.

Schumacher edged him wide and Button seized the opportunity to move ahead of his team mate.

Hamilton’s eventful race came to a sudden end on lap seven. He tried to capitalise on a mistake by Button at the chicane, but drew alongside his team mate into a narrowing gap between Button and the pit wall. Hamilton dealt the wall a solid whack, damaging his left-rear wheel.

McLaren told Hamilton to park his damaged car, and while Button headed for the pits the safety car returned to the track.

That promoted Kamui Kobayashi to sixth place, having made rapid progress from 13th on the grid.

At the restart Alonso began to slip back from Vettel, as he had during the first three laps of green flag running, with Felipe Massa lapping close behind his team mate.

Having switched to intermediate tyres, Button quickly picked off Pastor Maldonado and Paul di Resta. But he was summoned to the pits for a drive-through penalty for going too quickly behind the safety car.

He served the penalty immediately, losing just five places, which he quickly began to take back. Noting his progress on the intermediate tyres, several other drivers reacted.

Among them was Alonso, who emerged from the pits with just one car between him and Button. The two Mercedes also made the switch.

Race suspended

But they were caught out when the rain returned with a vengeance on lap 19. The safety car came out immediately and all the drivers who had switched to intermediates pitted for wets with one exception – Adrian Sutil.

After just two laps behind the safety car, with the weather radars showing much more rain to come, the race was red-flagged.

The race remained under suspension for over two hours as rain lashed the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. Finally the clouds lifted and the race resumed behind the safety car.

Another eight laps behind the safety car passed as the track conditions improved. So much so that when the start was finally given some drivers immediately switched to intermediate tyres.

Vettel held his lead from Kobayashi, who had risen to second ahead of drivers who had pitted for intermediate tyres, plus Massa who had stopped for more wets behind the second safety car. Kobayashi fended off an attack from the Ferrari as the race resumed.

Jenson Button was one of the first drivers to switch to intermediate tyres. The Ferrari drivers pitted at the same time and Alonso had to queue behind his team mate.

Button made to pass Alonso at turn three but the pair banged wheels, sending Alonso spinning onto a kerb where his car became stuck. Button limped into the pits with a front-left puncture as Bernd Maylander took the safety car out for the fourth time.

The remaining drivers completed their switch to intermediate tyres and Vettel led once more as the race restarted.

Schumacher climbs to second

Michael Schumacher was the man on the move at the restart, taking Webber for sixth.

That became fifth when Paul di Resta hit Nick Heidfeld, damaging his wing and stopping for repairs. He was later given a drive-through penalty.

Schumacher made a much more successful pass on Heidfeld and set off in pursuit of Kobayashi and Massa. He took both in a brilliant, opportunistic move on lap 50 when Kobayashi ran wide. Massa also moved ahead of Kobayashi.

By now drivers were pitting for slick tyres including Button, who had only just caught the pack in time for the restart. His pace on the super-soft tyres was whole seconds faster than Vettel’s, never mind the other cars, and he sliced past Heidfeld and Kobayashi for fourth, having been as low as 22nd.

Heidfeld mounted an attack on Kobayashi, but lost his front wing running into the Sauber at the Senna hairpin. The wing collapsed under the Renault and Heidfeld hurtled down the escape road at turn three.

He was unharmed, but with debris all over the track the safety car had to be summoned for a fifth time. During the interruption there was a frightening moment as a marshal fell over in front of de la Rosa and Petrov, who had to take avoiding action.

As the safety car came in for the final time the race clock threatened to bring the race to an end before the 70 laps were completed. The full distance was completed, but only just.

Button snatches victory

Vettel pulled away from Schumacher, Webber and Button at the restart, the latter briefly delayed by Timo Glock’s Virgin.

Webber made a few fruitless efforts to pass Schumacher, having to yield his position back at one point. On lap 63 he skidded at the exit of the final chicane and Button pounced for third place.

Buton set off after Schumacher and took him on the very next lap. Webber would also demote Schumacher from the final podium position with three laps to go.

But all eyes were on the battle at the front. Vettel picked up the pace but Button continued to take several tenths of a second out of his lead per lap. On the penultimate lap he was able to use his DRS and take more time out of Vettel’s lead.

The pair began the final lap with Button within a second and poised to pounce in the DRS zone. But it was decided before then: Vettel put two wheels on the still-damp surface at turn six and slewed sideways, allowing Button through to claim an improbable win.

Webber took third ahead of Schumacher while Vitaly Petrov claimed fifth.

Massa, who had been delayed after spinning and breaking his front wing, passed Kobayashi at the line for sixth place.

Both Toro Rosso scored points: Jaime Alguersuari in eighth, Sebastien Buemi in tenth, with Rubens Barrichello in between.

Vettel looked despondent after losing the lead he had held for almost the whole race. But he retains a healthy 60-point margin over Button, who is now second in the title race.

2011 Canadian Grand Prix

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181 comments on Button bounces back to snatch last-lap win in Canada

  1. Novotny said on 12th June 2011, 23:22

    BTW has anyone noted that with McLaren having Pedro De la Rosa as their test driver – the guy who helped develop the Pirelli tyres – perhaps Button’s legendary cleverness with tyres is getting some assistance?

    It was a mate of mine who pointed this out earlier, and he’s right – McLaren have access to more knowledge about those tyres than anyone else.

    • Hairs (@hairs) said on 13th June 2011, 0:01

      No they don’t. Pirelli give all the same data about the tyres to each team.

      Each team has its own dedicated set of Pirelli tyre staff who advise them on the tyres.

      The tyres react completely differently on different cars.

      Pedro’s experience didn’t help him control the Sauber this weekend.

      Pedro’s experience as a test driver is on the Pirelli Test car (a 2010 beta-spec Toyota that has been modified with parts that would be illegal to fit on a racing F1 car).

    • mr.t said on 13th June 2011, 0:25

      Perhaps you should point out to your friend that Nick Heidfeld and Romain Grosjean also helped test the Pirelli tyres too, but I suspect he isn’t shouting about Renault claiming an unfair advantage?

  2. Victor. (@victor) said on 12th June 2011, 23:22

    Fantastic race. The best finish to a race since Brazil 2008.

  3. 91jb12 (@91jb12) said on 12th June 2011, 23:22

    Congrats Button, steller performance. Margains at the front now are as fine as putting tyres an inch offline. Still think JB would’ve passed SV before the line, he was super close anyway.
    Amazing race, bit annoyed being a Seb fan but I’d have take 5 wins and 2 2nds and a 60pt lead before melbourne.

  4. Ionut R said on 12th June 2011, 23:23

    Sorry to break it to you, but Jenson has ALWAYS made his own calls regarding pit stop and tire strategy. Haters gonna hate!

  5. Dan_the_McLaren_fan (@dan_the_mclaren_fan) said on 12th June 2011, 23:27

    How many investigations are ongoing?

  6. MacademiaNut said on 12th June 2011, 23:28

    “an sensational victory”?

  7. Mach1 said on 12th June 2011, 23:28

    on another note….I nearly s**t myself when the stewards started picking up debris on a blind corner when half the pack hadn’t gone through or caught up with the pack, and then fell over in front of an F1 car….I bet he s**t himself too, I thought we were about to see a horrible accident – just thankful he got out of harms way

  8. Re Alonso Button crash


    Youtube Video of Button Alonso Incident

    4 to 5 seconds into the video you can clearly see Button is ahead.

    • Novotny said on 12th June 2011, 23:31

      I think they were both equally at fault, if either are. Has to be a racing incident.

    • Jombe said on 12th June 2011, 23:38

      But by the time they collided Alonso was clearly ahead. Also there was room for Button on the inside, but instead of compromising his line for the following corner by evasive action Button continued into the back of Alonso. I think he would deserve a penalty, but I would have preferred the stewards to reach a decision during the race.

    • mvi said on 12th June 2011, 23:39

      But it shows that Alonso is clearly ahead.

    • Ionut R said on 12th June 2011, 23:43

      Button had the inside, started to break as the turn was coming and he had Rosberg in front, Alonso gets stubborn on the outside and breaks extremely late, leaving Button nowhere to go. Button ends up with a puncture, pits, gets out last, and ends up winning the race! ’nuff said.

      • The Last Pope said on 12th June 2011, 23:52

        This is the truth.

      • Bleeps_and_Tweaks (@bleeps_and_tweaks) said on 12th June 2011, 23:58


      • caci99 (@caci99) said on 13th June 2011, 0:36

        Lol, Alonso stubborn. So if Alonso wouldn’t be stubborn he would either go straight ahead or leave a place to Button. Meanwhile, Button has room to take the corner on the inside, room left by the “stubborn Alonso” but he rather chooses to go straight ahead as if Alonso wasn’t there at all. Lol

      • Anoop said on 13th June 2011, 12:20

        Alonso was clearly in front from the video. H was sticking to his side, where as button came behind nico and he just pulled into Alonso’s line. Had he just keep his line behind Nico, this collision can be avoided.

    • Dipak T said on 12th June 2011, 23:50

      They were side by side, neither could claim the optimal line without causing an incident.

      The only sane conclusion is a racing incident.

      Also, why do people have such problems accepting something as being a racing incident? Heidfeld and Kobayashi is a prime example where neither was at fault, but some people seem to always conclude that one driver has to be at fault and therefore has to be penalised!

      • Only one driver can have the racing line, that was Button.

        • Face21 (@face21) said on 13th June 2011, 3:12

          Can’t agree with that. Alonso was on the ouside and that’s the racing line. That’s the way to make the chicane quicker, and that’s why Alonso is ahead in the chicane while he was behind before braking. Button was trying to put his move on Alonso on the inside and that’s why he’s earlier on the brakes. Since it’s Button hitting Alonso and not the other way round, I’d say Button is more responsible for this one, but I don’t think he deserves a penalty for that. Both drivers were too optimistic and I guess you should call it a racing incident

  9. Ionut R said on 12th June 2011, 23:30

    It would be retarded for the officials to ruin one of the most exciting and unbelievable victories in F1 history by hitting Button with an after race penalty – which he wouldn’t deserve anyway, as Hamilton impatiently forced him on the outside in lap 8, and Button had the inside in the Alonso incident, with Fernando literally not leaving Button anywhere else to go by being stubborn and not allowing him to pass after an obvious overtake.

  10. RandomChimp (@randomchimp) said on 12th June 2011, 23:31

    Best 5 hours spent in front of a television ever.

  11. Ral (@ral) said on 12th June 2011, 23:43

    BBC Commentary missed Kobayashi’s spin into turn three on the last restart. That’s how he ended up behind Petrov and finally caught by Massa on the line. A shame. But with the hot-blown exhausts on the overrun being banned, surely Sauber, Williams and Torro Rosso are set to catch up a bit with the front runners a little bit, especially in qualifying. And that will mix up the race results a bit as well.

    Good race, when it was finally allowed to start :)

  12. OEL said on 12th June 2011, 23:47

    “Massa, who had been delayed after spinning and breaking his front wing, passed Kobayashi at the line for sixth place.”

    Not quite that simple, as the HRT was in the middle of the road, forcing Massa off.

  13. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 12th June 2011, 23:57

    No penalty for Button for the Alonso incident.

    • f1alex said on 13th June 2011, 0:00

      Good, I think it would be the last thing the sport needs for the stewards to ruin one of the best races in the sport’s history by punishing the winning driver even though he wasn’t really at fault.

  14. carldec said on 13th June 2011, 0:00

    Fox in the US cut off coverage right after the race finished and did not show the interviews.

    I would pay a lot of money to see Button and Vettel talk about this race…

    sigh… another News Corp brain fart.

    • nbouler said on 13th June 2011, 0:07

      I KNOW!!! We have to find that!!! Will Speed run it?

      • carldec said on 13th June 2011, 0:17

        Speed will rebroadcast race on Tuesday. They may have a minutes worth of post race coverage tonight on the speed news show.. but it will be mostly about Nascar.

        If anyone knows where I can download a copy of the end race coverage….


      • hohum said on 13th June 2011, 1:51

        Twice already. straight after and then in weekly roundup, and probably again on F1 debrief.

  15. Hairs (@hairs) said on 13th June 2011, 0:05

    An in non-racing discussion:

    How much of a massive improvement was the rain-affected commentary by Martin and DC during this race? I hadn’t thought about the horrors of Legard for months, but this race really brought it back. The race was stopped or under the safety car for 2 hours, and I wasn’t bored listening to them once. After 5 minutes of Legard last year in Brazil I was ready to claw my own ears off.

    • Novotny said on 13th June 2011, 1:14

      We respect them. Legard’s just a journo. God love him, he never had a chance. His being a bit crap didn’t help mind

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