MONTREAL, June 12, 2011 (AFP) - Jenson Button secured his first win of the season on Sunday after passing defending Sebastian Vettel on the final lap of an extraordinary, dramatic, rain-delayed and crash-hit Canadian Grand Prix.
The 31-year-old Englishman, driving his McLaren car with great courage, speed and judgement after surviving an early collision with his team-mate and compatriot Lewis Hamilton, emerged triumphant at the conclusion of an
unpredictable and sensational race.
Vettel, of Red Bull, had looked sure to win after leading from pole position both before and after a two-hour suspension of the action due to torrential rain, but he buckled under pressure from Button on the final lap and finished second.
This enabled Button, who was in last place at one time, to come home in a winning time of four hours, four minutes and 37.037 seconds.
It was the 10th win of his career for the champion of 2009. "I really don't know what to say, it's been a very emotional three hours or whatever it's been since the start," said Button.
"The incident with Lewis - I couldn't see anything and I've apologised to him. It was really a fight from then on, but I kept on pushing and I managed to get past Seb at the end. Another great win for me and possibly my best."
Vettel managed to hang on and finish second after being defeated for only the second time this year in seven races and his Red Bull team-mate Mark Webber came home third, after battling through in the closing laps.
This left luckless seven-times champion Michael Schumacher to finish fourth for Mercedes after looking poised to take a podium finish ahead of fifth-placed Vitaly Petrov of Renault.
Felipe Massa came home sixth for Ferrari, who lost Fernando Alonso through an accident earlier in the contest, with Japanese Kamui Kobayashi seventh for Sauber.
Massa passed the Sauber by a few metres as they crossed the line.
Button's triumph lifted him to second behind Vettel in the drivers' championship.
His race included not only his collision with Hamilton, but also six pit stops including a drive-through penalty.
After a wet morning and intermittent rain showers, the race began in 'full wet' conditions but behind the Safety Car.
The race 'proper' began after four laps behind the Safety Car with Alonso charging to challenge Vettel at the front and, in the early turns of lap five, a slight collision between Webber and Hamilton left the Australian spinning
before recovering to rejoin.
As the track dried slightly, Hamilton was involved in another near-scrape when he was pushed wide by Schumacher at the hairpin before, on lap eight, the 2008 champion collided with Button.
Button clearly had not seen him in his mirrors and Hamilton had to pull left as they touched. This caused him to hit the pit wall, damaging the left rear wheel of his car.
Hamilton was unable to continue and pulled up to park at turn five, following orders from his team, as Button headed into the pits.
By lap 25, with the cars struggling to follow the Safety Car, Vettel was in front ahead of Kobayashi with Massa third.
The race was red-flagged to a halt which lasted two hours and 15 minutes before the race re-started, again behind the Safety Car.
When racing resumed Alonso was involved in a tangle with Button, the Briton refusing to cede to the Spaniard's attack. Alonso was left beached on a kerb and the Safety Car was called for once again.
As before, it fell perfectly for Vettel who pitted smoothly and resumed as Button came in for the fifth time. The race resumed after 40 laps, Vettel again pulling clear at the front with Kobayashi still second.
Massa kept hold of third ahead of Nick Heidfeld and Schumacher, who had made consistent progress to climb to fifth before passing the Renault for fourth place.
By lap 50, a dry line was appearing and Schumacher was reviving memories of his pomp with a fastest lap in pursuit of the leading trio and he soon passed both Kobayashi and Massa.
After another chaotic burst of pit-stops, including Button in again for a sixth time, Vettel was still in front but behind him Schumacher, Webber and Button were flying when Heidfeld ran into Kobayashi, wrecking his front wing and then retired.
Yet again, a Safety Car was required, for a fourth time, because of debris left on the circuit and when it went in again Vettel rushed away at the hairpin.
Button and Webber used superior pace to surge past Schumacher with Button taking control and chasing down Vettel to claim a memorable win.
|UNOFFICIAL 2011 CANADIAN GP RACE RESULTS|
|2||1||-1||18||1||Sebastian Vettel||RBR-Renault||70||+2.7 secs|
|3||4||1||15||2||Mark Webber||RBR-Renault||70||+13.8 secs|
|4||8||4||12||7||Michael Schumacher||Mercedes||70||+14.2 secs|
|5||10||5||10||10||Vitaly Petrov||Renault||70||+20.3 secs|
|6||3||-3||8||6||Felipe Massa||Ferrari||70||+33.2 secs|
|7||13||6||6||16||Kamui Kobayashi||Sauber-Ferrari||70||+33.2 secs|
|8||18||10||4||19||Jaime Alguersuari||STR-Ferrari||70||+35.9 secs|
|9||16||7||2||11||Rubens Barrichello||Williams-Cosworth||70||+45.1 secs|
|10||15||5||1||18||Sebastien Buemi||STR-Ferrari||70||+47.0 secs|
|11||6||-5||8||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes||70||+50.4 secs|
|12||17||5||17||Pedro de la Rosa||Sauber-Ferrari||70||+63.6 secs|
|13||21||8||23||Vitantonio Liuzzi||HRT-Cosworth||69||+1 Lap|
|14||23||9||22||Narain Karthikeyan||HRT-Cosworth||69||+1 Lap|
|15||24||9||25||Jerome d'Ambrosio||Virgin-Cosworth||69||+1 Lap|
|16||22||6||24||Timo Glock||Virgin-Cosworth||69||+1 Lap|
|17||19||2||21||Jarno Trulli||Lotus-Renault||69||+1 Lap|
|18||11||-7||15||Paul di Resta||Force India-Mercedes||67||+3 Laps|
|Ret||12||12||Pastor Maldonado||Williams-Cosworth||61||+9 Laps|
|Ret||9||9||Nick Heidfeld||Renault||55||+15 Laps|
|Ret||14||14||Adrian Sutil||Force India-Mercedes||49||+21 Lapss|
|Ret||2||5||Fernando Alonso||Ferrari||36||+34 Laps|
|Ret||20||20||Heikki Kovalainen||Lotus-Renault||28||+42 Laps|
|Ret||5||3||Lewis Hamilton||McLaren-Mercedes||7||+63 Laps|