Jenson Button won an astonishing Canadian Grand Prix with a last lap pass on Sebastian Vettel, who made a mistake when leading.
After two high pressure finishes in Spain and Monaco where he held on, Vettel made a mistake under pressure this time and you could tell that it hurt him.
He extended his championship lead to 60 points, with Button moving into second place in the table, but it was scant consolation; everything has been going right for Vettel so far this year, but today he came unstuck.
Mark Webber finished third after battling with Michael Schumacher in the closing stages.
The seven times champion had his best race since his comeback, looking like he might get a podium at one point.
The race featured five safety car restarts and was stopped after 25 laps when Race Director Charlie Whiting listened to Vettel and other drivers who radioed in to say that the circuit was ‘undriveable’. The delay lasted two hours.
It also featured more controversy for Lewis Hamilton who again tried to force the issue in a furious opening five laps and ended up crashing out.
It had rained on and off all morning in Montreal. It wasn’t raining on the grid, a warm wind was blowing. The race started behind the safety car, a cautious decision, but one which reflected the lack of understanding the competitors had about the Pirelli wet tyres.
After being at the centre of things in Monaco, Lewis Hamilton was in the thick of it again here, once again the balance between aggressive and self destructive falling on the wrong side.
Very aggressive at the start, he connected with Mark Webber, “Lewis thought the chequered flag was in turn three,” said Webber ironically.
Then Hamilton had a battle with Michael Schumacher before smashing into the back of team mate Jenson Button. It ended his race and brought out the safety car.
Button moved over to the left, following the line most drivers were taking between the final corner and the kink at the start line. Not aware of how close Hamilton was he squeezed him into the wall.
“I felt that I was at least half-way alongside him,” said Hamilton. “Jenson made a mistake going into the final corner so I was able to get a better exit, and was coming down the outside of him. I don’t know if he could see me or not, but he just kept coming over and over.”
Meanwhile Button shouted down the radio, “What is he doing?” But straight after the race, he apologised to his team mate for the incident.
Button pitted for intermediate tyres at this point, on lap 9. He rejoined in the queue behind the safety car in 12th. But he was given a drive through penalty for speeding behind the safety car. This dropped him to the back of the field. From here he fought back to win the race.
At the restart, Vettel was able to pull away quite easily from Alonso in second place at around a second a lap, Massa was tucked in behind.
On lap 17 Button set a lap over a second faster than Vettel indicating that intermediate tyres were the ones to be on.
Ferrari reacted immediately, bringing Alonso in for intermediates and getting him out just ahead of Button.
It was a bad call as he was in a few laps later, along with Button, when the rain fell hard. Kamui Kobayashi stayed out and rose to second place as the safety came out again for the heavy rain.
Vettel described conditions on the main straight as “undriveable” and urged the Race Director via radio not to consider restarting the race because it would be too dangerous for the cars behind him.
Charlie Whiting agreed with him and stopped the race on lap 25 as the rain cannoned off the race track.
After a two hour wait, the safety car led the 23 remaining cars around in preparation for a restart.
The safety car stayed out a long time and by the time it came in the track was ready for intermediate tyres. Schumacher made up places by coming straight in, as did Di Resta and Heidfeld.
Most drivers followed suit. Alonso lost time in his stop and when he went out he was racing Button, who ran up the inside of him into a chicane and they collided, putting Alonso out of the race. Button got a puncture.
At the front, Vettel pulled away from Kobayashi, Felipe Massa,
On lap 41 Heidfeld and Di Resta collided at the final chicane damaging the front wing of the Force India car. Schumacher pounced for fifth place. Webber battled with Schumacher.
Schumacher was on a charge, passing Heidfeld for fourth and closing on Kobayashi and Massa. Massa’s engineer Rob Smedley urged his driver to try top pass Kobayashi.
By lap 49 a drying line started to appear and drivers started thinking about slicks. Webber was the first to jump – a worthwhile gamble as it brought him a and one which also gave Red Bull a chance to pick the perfect moment to pit Vettel.
Schumacher made up two places, moving up to second place, when Kobayashi made a mistake and Massa got boxed in.
The closing stages featured an exceptional battle between Schumacher, Webber and Button. Button got ahead of both and chased after Vettel in the closing laps.
“As we always say, its the last lap that counts,”said Button. “A great race. To fight my way through from last position. It’s definitely my best race.”
Vettel was down after the race, “It was a long race, with a long break. All in all I can be satisfied but at the moment the impression I’ve got is I’m disappointed. To make a mistake on the last lap is not very sweet. I have no problem to admit I went a bit wide, outside the dry line, I got away with second.
“I could tell Jenson was quicker than us. I should have pushed a bit hard to open up a gap after the safety car. I was too cautious.”
CANADIAN GRAND PRIX, Montreal, 70 laps
1. Button McLaren 1h23:50.995
2. Vettel Red Bull + 2.709
3. Webber Red Bull + 13.828
4. Schumacher Mercedes + 14.219
5. Petrov Renault + 20.395
6. Massa Ferrari + 33.225
7. Kobayashi Sauber + 33.270
8. Alguersuari Toro Rosso + 35.964
9. Barrichello Williams + 45.100
10. Buemi Toro Rosso + 47.000
11. Rosberg Mercedes + 50.400
12. de la Rosa Sauber + 1:03.600
13. Liuzzi HRT + 1 lap
14. Karthikeyan HRT + 1 lap
15. D’Ambrosio Virgin + 1 lap
16. Glock Virgin + 1 lap
17. Trulli Lotus + 1 lap
18. Di Resta Force India + 3 laps