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. Copersucar (@copersucar) said on 13th June 2011, 0:29

    Awful strategic calls by Ferrari. JB’s t-boning was the final cause of FA’s DNF, but it was only possible due to the horrific pitstop calls. I was hoping to see a SV-FA duel for the win but Ferrari ruined it.

    And for some time I though that Kobi would probably take a podium, and might just win. That would have really thrilled me.

  2. Alistair said on 13th June 2011, 1:01

    Good victory for Button. I would just note that both RBR cars made massive errors and Jenson didn’t need to do much to ‘overtake’ them.

    Hamilton almost has half the points of Vettel now. It could have been so much better. I know many will blame Lewis; but, consider this. If McLaren had ignored their diagnosis of Lewis’s car from the telemetry and had got the car back to the garrage, they could have worked on it for the hour plus the race was abondoned. He could easily, then, have got points. Once again, McLaren strategy is awful. As for Lewis, he was unlucky. But he should also know that F1 doesn’t reward overtaking. He should, therefore, be far more cautious in the next few races.

    • The Last Pope said on 13th June 2011, 1:40

      Did you watch the race? How on earth could Lewis easily have gotten some points, even if he had driven it back to the pits and the mechanics had decided to for some weird reason fix is car, he would have been over 10 laps behind everyone at the restart. ??? Bad Strategy?????

    • Hairs (@hairs) said on 13th June 2011, 8:09

      “F1 doesn’t reward overtaking”.

      He says, in a race where the winner worked his way from LAST to FIRST in 25-odd laps!!

  3. rogerdugans said on 13th June 2011, 2:40

    A great race and a great win for Button!
    Hmm- 6 pitstops, racing incident with his team mate, penalty for speed behind the safety car, being almost pushed of the track and THEN driven into by Alonso which put him in last place (Good try, Alonso!) and still he managed to win.

    One for the record books.

    As for the unrealistic Alonso fans who are so sure that anything in red is perfect- look, it was a Racing Incident. Button had no choice but to follow his line or go off track. Alonso turned in on him too soon and if he had NOT taken himself out of the race would probably have been penalized for causing the accident.

  4. Malibu_GP said on 13th June 2011, 2:47

    It would have been great to see Schu on the podium in Canada. As well, the thought of KK up there had Me pretty ecstatic. Say what You will, that was a Champion’s drive from Jense. I know, I know, I’m strange (perpetually positive) but I really wanted to see Filipe have an epic day also. This must boggle the mind of the hateful among Us, of which there are many. I always prefer People do well. Regarding the criticism of LH: He is far too talented to go away. He will learn patience. It is too bad they don’t have a full spectrum drivers skill competition. Give them equal machinery, and let them compete at various tasks. Wet weather, braking efficiency, overtaking, starts, etc. That would certainly give Us more of an opportunity to back up Our rhetoric. It could be sort of like an All Star event. With the top performers at seasons end participating. Don’t need a focus group to tell Me how the reception would be. It could be added to the final race or added as an attraction at testing the following season. Ahhh…, I digress. Electrifying race though! Even with the delay.

  5. Malibu_ GP said on 13th June 2011, 2:55

    Oh…, North America RULES! Especially Southern Cali. Can’t wait till Austin. The day tickets go on sale I’m grabbin em! May even get paddock club passes. It is an awesome Love affair, this romance.

    • Aussie Fan said on 13th June 2011, 7:13

      Oh yeah? well AUSTRALIA RULES MORE JUST BECAUSE I USED MORE CAPS LOCK!!!!! Woot! Yeah! :-)

  6. YUTAO said on 13th June 2011, 3:15

    Massa should be penalized for overtaking Heidfeld and Kobayashi under safety car.

    • David-A (@david-a) said on 13th June 2011, 4:53

      He overtook Heidfeld, but clearly Heidfeld pulled over as if he passed Massa illegally in the first place.

      With Kobayashi, you have no idea what you’re talking about.

      • YUTAO said on 13th June 2011, 15:09

        On lap 34 Massa was ahead of Kobayashi. Although eventually Kobayashi defended his 2nd position, technically when Massa crossed the line of lap 34 he was ahead of Kobayashi, which is illegal because of the safety car.

        • David-A (@david-a) said on 13th June 2011, 15:28

          It’d be silly to penalise him for that. I mean it’s like saying that if you cut a corner to gain an advantage, then give the place back immediately, then overtake a few laps later, you should still be penalised.

          Only if Massa took the place there and then, and didn’t cede or lose position could he be penalised.

  7. Pink Peril (@pink-peril) said on 13th June 2011, 7:51

    Tody I wanted the podium to be about 6 drivers wide! So many who deserved a shot at the step. But most of all, I was happiest that the top step was occupied by someone different for a change. Coco the clown could’ve won the race and I wouldn’t have cared less. Hopefully, this is just the start to a proper challenge to Vettel.

  8. baldry888 said on 13th June 2011, 8:41

    Look today’s race was amzing, one of the one’s you will tell your grand children you witnessed. Lets just stop the bickering and acknoledge an amazing drive by a great driver and think about how lucky we were to witness it.

  9. Leeh1987 said on 13th June 2011, 9:26

    Button was a bit naughty on Hamilton, He knew what he was doing! He was gonna get took by Ham and thought there was no way he was gonna let Ham make him look stupid by winning another team battle so nudged him out, HOWEVER what a fantastic drive by him, My estimation of this guy went up massively after this race. I’m puzzled as to why the Mclaren in race spec on low fuel and fresh tyres seems to be a second a lap quicker than the Red Bull.

    • Rob said on 13th June 2011, 11:12

      Perhaps when McLaren said they had a wet setup they meant a setup more for wet-but-drying conditions like at the end of the race, plus Button is good in greasy conditions.

      • Leeh1987 said on 13th June 2011, 17:24

        Its happened in the last 3 races now. Looks like Mclarens look after their tyres better than red bull. Vettel has been hounded by a Mclaren in the last 3 races at the end of the race from a Red Bull bein fairly comfortable although Vettel had very old tyres in Monaco

  10. nemo87 (@nemo87) said on 13th June 2011, 11:02

    Im so so happy that Vettel was knocked off his tower. Lets hope it continues. I’m absoloutly gutted foe lewis though.. I don’t blame either driver. what happend, happened. no use crying over spilt milk right..?
    I’m pretty sure we would have been looking at a McLaren 1-2 otherwise :\ such a shame. oh well. Roll on Valencia where hopefully the Bulls can be tamed once again :)

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

  12. gazzap said on 13th June 2011, 12:30

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

  13. Fixy (@fixy) said on 13th June 2011, 12:39

    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.

  14. paolo (@paolo) said on 13th June 2011, 12:51

    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

    • David-A (@david-a) said on 13th June 2011, 15:30

      “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.

      • Michael said on 13th June 2011, 15:42

        +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..

  15. AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 13th June 2011, 21:16

    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 :(

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