Jenson Button, McLaren, Montreal, 2011

Button bounces back to snatch last-lap win in Canada

2011 Canadian Grand Prix reportPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

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”

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  1. What a race. Shame Schumi couldn’t hold on to a podium position, but serisouly what a weekend for Motorsport. What. A. Race. !!

    1. Having either (or both!) Kobayashi or Schumacher on the podium would have been brilliant.

  2. Does anyone know how many GP’s in history a driver has come from last to win the race? Would love to find out.

  3. The Ferraris were strangely much slower than Vettel, with Massa probably faster than Alonso. Sad for him when he had to go off-line to lap a Hispania and crashed; I thought, when he put the slicks, “he’s going to crash”. Sad even for Di Resta as it’s the second time he crashes into someone, and he was very strong. Sad for Schumacher, who lost the podium, sad for Kobayashi who was too slow to keep 2nd place.
    Extremely positive for Button though.

  4. I don’t share the sympathy for schumi. He’s pulled some outrageous moves over the years with no consideration for other drivers or any remorse. I’m not going to turn around now and give him a pity vote.

    Maybe he should have done what he does best and try and ram button and webber off the road to secure second place

    1. “Done what he does best” is squeeze the last thousandths out of his car to achieve a good result. And that’s what he did yesterday. If you’re going to be a boring troll, do so somewhere else.

      1. +1 David A!

        I know that threads like this are more interesting when there’s a difference of opinion, but after a race like that I think we can all be in agreement that it was a fantastic exhibition of driving skills at it’s finest.
        Button, Schumi, Vettel, Webber, Kamui Kamikazee :),Massa and the Torro Rosso boys all showed us some class and magic in extremely difficult conditions..

  5. A brilliant review Keith but it’s so fresh in my memory after such a stunning race I hardly needed it!

    I glanced away from the screen and missed Schumacher’s double overtake :(

    1. Where were you looking?

  6. What a race? It finished at 3 am in my region still with sleep in my eyes I couldn’t sleep,I think this has to be the best race I have seem in my life since 2003.I have to put this with the likes of Japan05,Europe07,Brazil03.

    Schumacher was great today,his pace was just raw seems like after the last safety car he couldn’t capitalize on the pace lost a lot of ground to the others.Hamilton was a joke today to be honest,poor guy couldn’t leave the circuit at least had Rihanna with him in the pit.Massa came back,made a mistake towards the end of the race but a photo finish between him & Kobayashi.

    Many times after the race finises I always look for the next race this time I want to watch this race may be at least 10 times before i go for Valencia.

  7. Absolutely devastated for Vettel. Got to give credit where it is due, Button a deserving winner. Kinda reminds me of Kimi in 2004 in Canada, some 6 pitstops and finishing 6th except that JB won here.
    I seriously believe RedBull’s stronghold at the front is over. JB was 2 full seconds faster during the last phase. Even if Mark’s KERS failed, a best flap time of 1:19.572 compared to Vettel’s 1:17.217 indicates something wrong with the RB cars. Full credits to JB for pulling this off, but to me it seemed that McLaren had serious speed, they are the RB’s of race pace.

  8. Button knew wat he was doing. About Hamilton collision button clearly knows hamilton is just behind his toes on the race line. he was looking at the mirrors before closing the gap , which made hamiton hit on the barriers. About alonso incident, Alonso was ahead, Button was no more than halfway alongside and the Spaniard was entitled to turn in. He gave Button space, and the McLaren under-steered on the slippery kerbs into the Ferrari.

    read martin brundle’s article

    1. Great article.

  9. even later than an F1 SC i just remembered did anyone else see Button taking to Webber immediately after the Canadaian GP? Button made a hand gesture that mimicked Vettels slide off the track and Webber, with a huge grin on his face said “no way”!

    1. now that’s not quite an accurate description of their dialogue, webber did the hand gesture and it was just a ‘no way’ surprise look. there was no huge grin on his face either.

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