Button wins Canadian GP

Jenson Button takes the checkered flag as he drives to victory at the Canadian Grand Prix in...

Jenson Button takes the checkered flag as he drives to victory at the Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal yesterday. (Didier DeBusschere/QMI agency)

Dean McNulty, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:47 PM ET

MONTREAL —Jenson Button rained on the Formula One champion Sebastian Vettel’s parade to a world championship Sunday at the Canadian Grand Prix.

In a final-lap, final-turn piece of drama, the 31-year-old Button pushed his McLaren Mercedes past Vettel’s Red Bull Renault to claim his first victory of the F-1 season.

This came after Button had an incident with teammate Lewis Hamilton and then another with Fernando Alonso, the results of which put him at the back of the grid.

Race stewards cleared Button of any wrong doing.

In a race that took four hours and seven minutes to complete, it looked as if Vettel would not only be the winner in Canada for the first time but that he would effectively end any hopes by his rivals to stop him from a second consecutive world championship.

Coming to Montreal’s Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, Vettel had won five of the first six Grands Prix on the F-1 2011 calendar.

And he had started Sunday’s race on the pole in conditions that appeared make any passing, or real racing at all, near impossible.

There was a light mist that turned into a monsoon shortly after the scheduled 1 p.m. start to the race but cars remained on the track, mostly behind the Safety Car under yellow flag conditions for 25 laps before the FIA — F-1’s ruling body — ordered it stopped with Vettel leading.

For the next two hours and five minutes, the 22-car grid sat on pit road waiting for a break in the weather.

With the 4.361-km road course still soaked the race was re-started, again under yellow.

And when the Safety Car finally left the track on Lap 36 racing, of sorts, resumed.

Two laps later the race was again under yellow after Ferrari’s Alonso — who started on the front row beside Vettel — spun into the wall after hitting the kerb in Turn 3.

His day was done.

But for the 100,000 or so fans who stuck it out during the never ending rain, their patience was paid off with some of the most exciting racing of the F-1 season once the track began to dry.

There still appeared that there was no chance for anyone to catch Vettel.

That was until Button — who had fought his way through the field passing cars with abandon — set his sights on the 23-year-old German.

“Even if I hadn’t won I would have enjoyed it,” Button said of his race from last to first. “It was really a fantastic fight.”

A big part of Button’s victory, he said, was the McLaren team’s decision to put him out on slick tires sooner than anyone else once the track began to show at least a partially dry racing line.

“The team made terrific choices for me,” Button said. “It made my fight to the front a lot easier.”

For Vettel, the result was heart breaking. He was in absolute control of his own destiny right up until the fateful moment that Button appeared in his rear view mirror.

Vettel, to his credit, said that he made a major mistake in not pushing harder late in the race when he had built up a lead of more than four seconds over the rest of the field.

“I was probably too conservative,” he said. “We led every single lap except the final one.”

Vettel said that by the time he realized how fast Button was gaining on him all he could do was try to hold him off.

“I should had pressed harder after the final Safety Car period,” he said.

With Button closing fast, Vettel started being defensive, a move that he would regret.

“I have no problem admitting I went a little wide,” he said. “There was only one (dry) line and (trying to keep Button behind him) I ended up in the wet.

“To lead and then give it away is not the sweetest feeling.”

As Vettel’s Red Bull Renault spun, Button jumped on the chance to pass to pull off the most unlikely of wins on a day that not even Mother Nature could dampen.

 


Videos

Photos