McLaren: Button makes amends for collision with stunning win

2011 Canadian GP team review

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 position 5 7
Qualifying time comparison (Q3) 1’13.565 (-0.273) 1’13.838
Race position 1
Laps 7/70 70/70
Pit stops 0 5

McLaren drivers’ lap times throughout the race (in seconds):

http://www.f1fanatic.co.uk/charts/2011drivercolours.csv
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70
Lewis Hamilton 142.459 126.157 125.34 123.927 100.949 99.917 97.761
Jenson Button 143.984 126.581 125.396 123.343 100.56 97.974 98.237 117.792 111.816 130.653 125.557 119.687 102.221 96.648 96.589 92.915 96.095 96.312 122.704 111.16 110.778 105.489 121.447 136.959 141.746 127.009 122.485 122.305 122.075 120.807 122.499 121.563 119.804 109.893 95.486 185.552 103.759 94.723 91.635 95.059 93.158 91.721 89.948 89.475 89.07 89.972 90.182 89.205 87.245 103.33 90.161 82.759 83.911 80.513 80.221 99.809 106.56 120.262 120.304 80.747 81.348 80.369 81.441 78.866 77.967 77.509 77.218 76.956 78.238
Lewis Hamilton, Mark Webber, Montreal, 2011

Lewis Hamilton, Mark Webber, Montreal, 2011

Lewis Hamilton

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?s 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.

Lewis Hamilton 2011 form guide

Jenson Button, Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Montreal, 2011

Jenson Button, Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Montreal, 2011

Jenson Button

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?re somewhere, then you?re nowhere and then you?re somewhere.

“As we always say the last lap is the important one to be leading and I was leading half of it. Amazing day”.

Jenson Button 2011 form guide

2011 Canadian Grand Prix

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98 comments on McLaren: Button makes amends for collision with stunning win

  1. dennis said on 13th June 2011, 23:42

    Alternative headline, similar to the one chosen for Monaco:

    “Safety-Car helps Button to Montreal win.”

  2. Eggry (@eggry) said on 13th June 2011, 23:49

    First Half : Disaster
    Second Half : Amazing!

  3. AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 14th June 2011, 0:09

    Well, what can I say other than wow! Well done Jenson Button. You drove an absolute blinder. I reckon he could be just as well remembered for that race as his entire championship year, classic stuff. His pace down the straight was formidable when he had the wing dropped.

    Nothing more than a racing incident between him and Hamilton and I think both drivers, particularly Hamilton, behaved very well afterwards. No crazy gestures like we had from Vettel at Istanbul last year…I think a ‘What was he doing?!’ sufficed from JB.

    Disappointing for Hamilton but he managed to keep his cool.

  4. Damon said on 14th June 2011, 0:18

    Hamilton is one of the fairest defending drivers on the grid. If the roles were reversed I truly believe he would have given button room. I wonder call that a pass by Schumacher at all as they both made mistakes and he simply drove straight pass them. Button just seems to get the luck, Hamilton none. I think vettel is out of reach he as too much of a lead

    • Dipak T said on 14th June 2011, 1:30

      I honestly think Button never truly saw Hamilton in his mirrors – maybe thinking that Hamilton was perhaps trying the outside line.

      In previous occasions when Hamilton has ghosted (as Hamilton tends todo, trying moves other drivers simply dont forsee) past Button, as soon as Button noticed, he gives him room (see China 2011 when Button yields to avoid hittng Hamilton when being passed)

      And vettel is nowhere near out of sight. 25 ish points in old money. With another 12 tours to go? Hamilton who is approx 30 old points behind can make that up, Button and Webber have a good chance of that. Vettel has never been the hunted driver at the sharp end of the champoinship, we have yet to see how he copes with that.

  5. Daniel Thomas (@iamdanthomas) said on 14th June 2011, 1:20

    Ron Dennis’ face in that celebratory picture!
    Made me chuckle, ‘sall.
    Well done to Jenson for an enthralling drive from first to last.

  6. wasiF1 (@wasif1) said on 14th June 2011, 3:24

    Can’t forget the look of Ron Dennis after both the Mclaren crashed.He saw that with Senna Prost,Haikkinen Coulthard,Alonso Hamilton now Hamilton Button,I do wonder whether Mclaren will ever have a DREAM TEAM?

  7. Wooolfy said on 14th June 2011, 5:23

    Lewis’ approach or aggression in the beginning of the race can be explained by the weather conditions. I was there, and it had rained before the race ( mainly persistent drizzle), track was wet but was drying out. I believe Lewis was trying to take early advantage of the wet track and his wet set-up. A second shower was expected during the race, according to the Doppler radar at that time, but not as much as earlier. Watching him drive in the wet with a superior car added to his confidence and was very very exciting. Be patient, the tide has turned and with 12 more races or so, the Mclaren cars will be challenging for the 2011 WDC. Lewis will find a balance and this will be a year to remember.

  8. kmw said on 14th June 2011, 7:02

    Lewis knows the racing line the same as all the other drivers. Even if he was quicker out of the chicane, he knew he was driving into a closing wedge, while Buttons view of him in the mirrors would be reduced or obliterated by spray. He made an amateur mistake in trying to pass in that place. An over zealous move, Full stop. No blame on Button.

  9. ukk (@ukk) said on 14th June 2011, 8:16

    Off-topic, but Keith, the charts somehow stopped showing on IE 9/Win 7 and this is for at least a month now. Any ideas how to make them work? Anybody else suffering the same problem?

  10. Matt B said on 14th June 2011, 9:09

    Just one thought on the FIA statement. During the race, Ted Kravitz, for the BBC, was with the McLaren team & they seemed to be suggesting some damage to the rear suspension & the drivetrain, confirming that Hamilton couldn’t have carried on. However, the FIA statement says that the team confirmed to them that there was no suspension damage from the collision. Either one is right, but somewhere along the line someone seems to be telling porkies.

    It’s really only a minor point, but to me something doesn’t add up.

    • xxiinophobia (@xxiinophobia) said on 14th June 2011, 10:23

      I got the impression that it’s simply a case of not having all the information available. Hamilton felt he could have continued, but the team surely saw the left rear askew on the monitors, figured the suspension was damaged, and thus instructed Hamilton to park the car.

      After having climbed out, you can see Hamilton kicking at something at the left rear (the point of ‘impact’ is obscured but you can see the car moving as he kicks at it).

      I’m thinking the FIA statement is accurate, but that McLaren didn’t know the car could have been repaired and put back in the race until getting the car back after the race was over.

    • Rob said on 14th June 2011, 13:31

      Kravitz said on looking at the car that both wheels on that side of the car were “a write off” and that he thought he could see part of the driveshaft damaged.

  11. renzo said on 14th June 2011, 11:19

    Hamilton: 100% fake smile on that pic!

    how can you be smiling after what happen?

    Imagine Senna & Prost celebrating together after Suzuka 1989…

    • Rob said on 14th June 2011, 13:33

      That is an irrelevant comparison – Lewis and Jenson get on with each other and Lewis would have surely been glad that Vettel didn’t get maximum points as it gives him a (theoretically) better chance of catching him.

      Plus Suzuka 1989 settled the championship for Prost, we still have some way to go this year.

  12. Tricky said on 14th June 2011, 12:52

    We should acknowledge that how important DRS was in giving him the win. It was allowing the cars to go cleanly around the car in front, and get back onto the dry track for braking. It allowed Button to ease past Schumacher, and possibly Vettel was told that Button would be able to overtake if he got close enough.

    • David BR said on 14th June 2011, 15:36

      Definitely helped move through the field, but I think Button only got within a second of Vettel on the final lap, right? It was a tremendous drive just to get within range. I think Vettel was driving ideally, just under the limit, knowing that a little bit more and he’d lose the car somewhere. Which is what happened when Button finally caught him.

      • Tricky said on 15th June 2011, 11:37

        I was thinking that without DRS it would not be possible to get around another car and back onto the dry for the braking zone. If they could only get alongside the car in front (without DRS) then outbraking them on the damp track would be nigh on impossible.
        I was thinking that Vettel was forced to push on and try and maintain a gap because he knew Button could overtake!
        Actually if Vettel hadn’t slipped up, could we have seen the overtake in the 1st, or even 2nd DRS zone to win the race!

  13. Kayser Soze said on 14th June 2011, 13:05

    Casey Stoner puts what I want to sayto hamilton nicely – your ambition outweighs your talent.

    • motocan (@motocan) said on 14th June 2011, 14:15

      I am sure Stoner would have gotten through the gap between Button’s car and the wall. There is and great new wacky idea for Bernie, cars and bike on the same track at the same time!
      I am also wondering like Matt B was Hamilton’s suspension wrecked or not, or is this bit of info too embarrassing to release.
      One last thing, the title of this article drives me nuts as it seems to imply that Button was some how responsible for Hamilton running into the rear of his car. What do you think Jenson said, “Oh, sorry Louis for be ahead of you … again”. 

  14. gwenouille (@gwenouille) said on 14th June 2011, 15:12

    I am usually not a big big fan of Hamilton (although i consider him one of the bests out there), but i really feel sorry for him right now.
    It seems like he is trying his best a little too much, forcing things. We all know he is 2 tenth quicker than JB, he could thus have overtaken him at some stage.
    Same with Webber: it was too narrow a gap, simple as that.
    But i see it as positive stuff.

    On the other side, why did he have to park his car right in the middle of the track ??? Couldn’t he have left it somewhere on the side ? Or was he gambling that this would mean the SC is out, and Vettel’s lead will then be annihilated ? Things like that make me feel uncomfortable about him…

    His partnership with JB looks like a solid one nevertheless. At about the same stage of the season last year Vettel and Webber couldnt handle the same kind of incident with such reserve.

    • motocan (@motocan) said on 14th June 2011, 19:17

      I agree there is no way you can question his talent and speed. I understand that the coaches instil the positive idea that you have already won the race before you start but he has to get the balance between positive thinking and the reality of the race right if he wants to progress. I hate to say this but he is driving like a rookie sim racer trying to win in the first corner.

  15. Damon said on 14th June 2011, 17:49

    Buttons a better driver my backside. Put your money where your mouth is and have me a bet on button vs hamiltons championship result.

    • David BR said on 14th June 2011, 23:26

      (Wow! it works, I clicked the reply tag and I get to reply to Damon!)

      Anyhow. I said ‘currently’ the better driver. As a Lewis fan (followed by Alonso) I think he should be very careful indeed over the next few races. Give Button the best car and just now he could take the championship from Hamilton easily. Three more races and I think we can call it.

      • Damon said on 15th June 2011, 11:03

        He is in no way currently a better driver, he as just been fortunate thats all, whereas Lewis as been unfortunate. Lewis would have undoubtedly out qualified button at Monaco and looked good for pole, but **** happens. Canada, button was just as much to blame as Lewis and I’m not having it that he didn’t see him. Lewis was much quicker in the conditions and would have probably romped home to victory if it wasn’t for the collision. Like I said if buttons a better driver in your opinion let’s have a bet, £100 and your getting a start!!

        • David BR said on 15th June 2011, 13:46

          Damon, I’m a Lewis fan (followed by Alonso) and I was never particularly convinced Button at McLaren was ideal given their difference in racing styles. But just as Hamilton has worked on tyre preservation, Button seems to have picked up a bit of LH’s aggression and confidence. They’re far from being equal, imo, but if you bet high on every single card (chance to overtake) you’re bound to collide. Hamilton has two mindsets, one where he collides, another where he gets past smoothly without incident (like his pass on Vettel at China). I really don’t think it’s a question of luck.

          Bet? No! I’ve no idea whether Hamilton will snap out of his current mood. If I really had to bet, I’d say he will. What worries me (as a fan, like I said) is that his new media-cash-cow agent plus the Red Bull ‘seduction’ (designed to mess with the head of their main challenger, surely?!) could mean he wakes up too late.

          • damon said on 15th June 2011, 16:27

            imo both monaco and canada are not mistakes on hamiltons part maybe apart from the webber move. lewis is a pure racer and if he settled for results more often like button, instead of always going for the win he would be leading button. the fact is hamilton can afford to have more dnfs than button because he more than makes up for it throughout the season. two bad races and its the end of the world according to most people, its pretty pathetic if you ask me

          • David BR said on 15th June 2011, 17:09

            Except that on points lost he’s blown one and maybe two championships (2007 and 2010) through DNFs or losing position by making unforced mistakes (Interlagos 2007 trying to pass Alonso early on).

            I guess the question is: does it need to be all or nothing, or can he sometimes be a bit more patient? If you think carefully, many of Hamilton’s best wins – including Spa 2008! – have involved him catching the race leader towards the end. That’s not curbing his style, it’s pouncing at the right time.

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