x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Button beats the Red Bull boys in last lap win in Canada

The McLaren driver rates the win in Montreal as probably his 'best-ever race' after a collision with teammate Hamilton nearly ruled him out of the race that Vettel and Webber dominated.

Button deserved every part of the celebration after winning in Montreal.
Button deserved every part of the celebration after winning in Montreal.

MONTREAL // For 69 laps of a 70-lap race, it appeared even Mother Nature was incapable of stopping Sebastian Vettel's charge towards what seemed an inevitable second successive world championship.

Then, on his final lap of a phenomenal, incident-packed Canadian Grand Prix race and having led for the duration, he spun off and was usurped of his lead by Jenson Button, the Englishman in a McLaren-Mercedes.

Vettel recovered to secure second ahead of his Red Bull Racing teammate Mark Webber, but the German took little compensation admitting he was “obviously very disappointed”. Button, in contrast, rated the win as “probably my best-ever race”.

It was the first wet race of the season and the first since Pirelli rejoined the sport in the winter. With water lying on several parts of the track at the start, the race started behind a safety car, removing any potential first lap drama as well as the option to use the speed-enhancing Drag Reduction System (DRS).

But visibility remained poor and Webber was immediately clipped by Lewis Hamilton and the Australian spun in chaotic conditions. By the sixth lap, Vettel had built up a four second gap from Fernando Alonso.

As Hamilton tried to pass Button up the outside at Turn One, the two McLarens touched with last year's winner Hamilton coming off worst, suffering a puncture and forcing him to retire.

Button's car remained undamaged, but he immediately pitted to change to intermediate tyres and, he was clocking laps four seconds quicker than he was on his wet tyres and climbed through the field to seventh within as many laps before the heavens opened and the safety car returned once more.

With 22 laps complete, Vettel appeared on his team radio to warn conditions were not safe. “From Turn Nine to Turn 13, it is undriveable,” he said. “The race cannot continue like this.” Similar apprehensions froom other drivers prompted the red flag to be waved couple of laps later, suspending the on-track action.

Christian Horner, the Red Bull team principal, said “it was the right decision to stop the race”. Adding: “The drivers are just passengers, the water lifts the cars up and there is no drive.”

But Paul di Resta, the Force India driver, said the stewards decision came too late: “I think they should have had the red flag before it was shown – conditions were atrocious.”

When the race resumed more than two hours later, Alonso spun out on lap 37 after Button clipped the Spaniard's rear wheel. With Vettel leading and two of his main championship rivals having retired it appeared to be Red Bull's day.

Kamui Kobayashi, of Sauber, and Alonso's Ferrari teammate Felipe Massa, were running in second and third, but after 45 laps they trailed Vettel by more than four seconds.

Kobayashi's determination to retain second place allowed Vettel to continue increasing his lead, but as Massa battled to pass the Japanese, Schumacher, the seven-time world champion, was able to sneak past them both to steal second for himself. Vettel's teammate Webber quickly followed suit to put himself in a position for a podium.

When Nick Heidfeld crashed his Renault, the safety car returned for the fourth time of the afternoon and Schumacher and Webber were able to close the gap on the championship leader. However when racing resumed – even with DRS now enabled – neither could get close enough to overtake.

When Webber made a mistake to run wide, Button capitalised to pass first the Red Bull and then Schumacher's Mercedes-GP and as the last lap approached Button slashed down Vettel's lead timing the use of his DRS well.

With pressure building, Vettel was forced to take more risks and eventually, he slipped up. “If Sebastian didn't make the mistake, it would have been very tricky [to pass],” Button admitted later. “Without DRS I would have had no chance.”

gmeenaghan@thenational.ae

 

RESULTS (provisional):

1. Jenson Button (GBR/McLaren-Mercedes) 4h 04:39.537

2. Sebastian Vettel (GER/Red Bull-Renault) at 2.709

3. Mark Webber (AUS/Red Bull-Renault) 13.828

4. Michael Schumacher (GER/Mercedes) 14.219

5. Vitaly Petrov (RUS/Lotus-Renault) 20.395

6. Felipe Massa (BRA/Ferrari) 33.225

7. Kamui Kobayashi (JPN/Sauber-Ferrari) 33.270

8. Jaime Alguersuari (ESP/Toro Rosso-Ferrari) 35.964

9. Rubens Barrichello (BRA/Williams-Cosworth) 45.117

10. Sebastien Buemi (SUI/Toro Rosso-Ferrari) 47.056

Retired: Lewis Hamilton (GBR/McLaren): spin 8th lap

Heikki Kovalainen (FIN/Lotus): gearbox 29th lap

Fernando Alonso (ESP/Ferrari): accident 37th lap

Adrian Sutil (GER/Force India): mechanical problem 50th lap

Nick Heidfeld (GER/Lotus-Renault): accident 56th lap

Pastor Maldonado (VEN/Williams F1): mechanical problem 62th lap