Halfway through the Canadian Grand Prix McLaren had one car out and another at the tail of the field.
But Jenson Button recovered from a costly collision with his team mate to clinch a sensational victory.
|Lewis Hamilton||Jenson Button|
|Qualifying time comparison (Q3)||1’13.565 (-0.273)||1’13.838|
McLaren drivers’ lap times throughout the race (in seconds):
Had a few problems in first practice, losing the data on his display in the car and later experiencing a hydraulic leak.
His unbeaten run in qualifying at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve came to an end on Saturday as he could only manage fifth. He said his seventh gear was “a bit too long for qualifying”.
He showed strong pace in the seven laps his race lasted for, but the same ragged edge that had been evident in Monaco was still visible.
First there was contact with Mark Webber – Hamilton said: “I touched Mark?ů‘ťľ‘šůs car after he braked a bit early into the first corner. He left me enough room, but I touched the inside kerb and understeered into him”.
That dropped him behind Michael Schumacher, who Hamilton tried to pass at the Casino hairpin but ended up running wide and letting Button pass.
Button made a mistake at the exit of the final chicane and Hamilton lined him up to try to pass.
He tried to move to Button’s left, and claim the inside line for turn one. But Button didn’t see his team mate coming and the pair made contact, Hamilton also striking the pit wall. They were fortunate that neither car flipped into the air, and that the terminal damage was limited to just Hamilton’s car.
Hamilton didn’t think so at first and said as much when interviewed afterwards.
The stewards saw fit to investigate the matter and issue a statement:
The stewards have investigated the actions of the driver of car three (L. Hamilton) after his collision with car four (J. Button) in particular the matter of where he stopped his car.
Having heard from the driver and the team representative, the stewards have concluded that the driver was convinced he only had a flat tyre. This was subsequently confirmed by the team representative to be correct.
The driver therefore believed he could safely return to the pits and proceeded to attempt to do so.
However at the time, his team believed the car had sustained suspension damage and radioed him to stop immediately. The driver reacted accordingly and stopped within six seconds at a marked vehicle recovery point.
The stewards therefore decide to take no action on this matter.
Said he “overdrove” his qualifying lap which put him seventh on the grid.
Butt picked up damage in the collision with Hamilton and had to pit for repairs, during which he also took the opportunity to switch to intermediate tyres. On top of that he was handed a drive-through penalty for speeding during the safety car period.
He made his way back to to tenth when the race was suspended. After the restart he did one lap then came in for intermediate tyres.
He took advantage of Adrian Sutil and Jarno Trulli running wide at the hairpin to pass both of them, then found Fernando Alonso coming out of the pits in front of him.
The pair tangled in turn three and Alonso came off worse but Button ended up limping back to the pits with a puncture.
Fortunately for him the safety car came out again and he was able to catch up to the field just in time for the restart on lap 41.
Now the last running car on the track, Button picked off the HRTs, Virgins and Lotuses with ease and was swiftly up to 12th place.
He switched to slick tyres on lap 51 and was instantly able to lap quicker on them than those around him, possibly thanks to the higher downforce wings on his McLaren helping him generate more heat in the tyres.
Webber, who had pitted for slicks one lap earlier, set a new fastest lap of 1’24.6 -on the next lap Button was 1.7 seconds faster.
Button jumped past several cars who scampered into the pits for slicks and rapidly overtook those remaining on the track in front of him. When the safety car came out for the final time he was up to fourth.
After the final restart Button picked off Webber who went wide in the final chicane. He dealt with Schumacher easily on lap 65, flying past the Mercedes using his DRS.
With four laps to go Button was 1.6 seconds behind Vettel and storming towards an incredible upset. Vettel gave it everything he had and stemmed the loss of time to Button to a few tenths of a second per lap.
But by the penultimate tour Button was within the DRS zone and the pair started the final lap less than a second apart. When Vettel skidded at turn six the lead of the race – and a stunning victory – fell into Button’s lap.
“It felt like I spent more time in the pits than on the pit-straights,” he said. “The guys did a great job of calling the strategy.
“At some points we definitely lucked out on the strategy, especially when the red flag came out but we called it very well going to slicks”.
He added the race was “one of those Grands Prix where you are nowhere, then you?ů‘ťľ‘šůre somewhere, then you?ů‘ťľ‘šůre nowhere and then you?ů‘ťľ‘šůre somewhere.
“As we always say the last lap is the important one to be leading and I was leading half of it. Amazing day”.
2011 Canadian Grand Prix
[catlist id=6956 numberposts=10]Browse all 2011 Canadian Grand Prix articles
Image ?ť?ģ McLaren