Jenson Button wins chaotic rain-hit Canadian Grand Prix
Jenson Button wins chaotic rain-hit Canadian Grand Prix
Posted By: James Allen  |  12 Jun 2011   |  10:54 pm GMT  |  440 comments

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.

Against all odds Button came through to win (Red Bull photo)

It was Button’s 10th career victory and his first since China last year. He described it as the “best race” of his career, before going off to speak to the stewards about his part in collisions with his team mate and with Fernando Alonso.

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

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I really think the stewardship of this grand prix (and the last) has been very very inconsistent.

How on earth did Button get away taking out Alonso and recieve no penalty compared with Di Restas who only damaged his car.

I also think Button was very naughty on the start finish line putting any car behind him in considerable danger.

You simply cannot run cars to the edge of the track.

I think Button was very very lucky to even have the oppurtunity to drive that recovery.




I think Mark Webber re-enter the race in 14th position not 10th after hit tap from Hamilton.


I though F1 drivers were men, not litle children. Why they started the race behind the SC? Why Charlie W. stopped the race when his German child asked him to do it? Why British drivers always get or not a penalty AFTER THE RACE? They had ruined both Monaco and Montreal races because of CW red flags and bad decissions. F1 it´s a shame!


The rules and specs of F1 keep on changing to make it competitive and exciting, however – yesterday we saw Shumacher display a masterly drive in the wet as only he can and progressed from 11 to 2nd place in a car we all know has no pace, only to be overtaken by a much faster car turned into a rocket by DRS and making it impossible to defend, even by the best driver on the track. Driver ability unfortunately has no place in F1. If DRS is going to be allowed, it has to be available to all drivers at all times irrespective of their position on the track and whether they are attacking or defending ie.behind or in front.


The long long wait for the rain to ease off truly paid off. Best race so far. Just hope each race gets better.

Whao! How did Button pull off the win has to be the mark of a hungry man. Kudos to Jenson.

Shumi too deserved to be on the podium, like the Schumi we’ve witnessed before.

Mark Webber will be catching up and will soon win some races.

Alonso and Massa, not a good day at the office, sigh.


Amazing, what an epic race that was.

Jenson showing again just how good he can be in those damp/drying conditions, just keeping the car on line and being quick and smooth.

My heart was absolutely pounding for those last 10 laps (just like monaco 92). The fact I called Jenson winning about 15 laps out just made it even better.

I have run out of patience reading through all of the posts, but it is good now that the JB haters had to eat a bit of humble pie, they’ve gone away from JB is slow to JB is now a dirty racer.

well done Jenson and all of the McLaren boys yesterday.


Brilliant race from Jenson. I know there’s a few who make a point of critcizing Jenson at every opportunity but inspite of Jenson’s affable and relaxed persona, we should not be fooled into thinking that he does not have a steely determination to win! Thisa shows he has it just as much as the other top drivers.


On the side note, while DRS can be good sometimes, it killed the art of defensive driving, especially in the long straights.

As a racing fan, I would love to see some defensive driving. And like many drivers said, over-taking should be like scoring a goal. I feel that Jenson and Mark just drove by Michael which isn’t the most skillful thing really.


It was easily the best race in a few years. A lot of those drivers drove their best today.

As a hardcore Schumi fan, it was veryyyyyy exciting to see him kicking a$$ left, right and center.

His over-takings were textbook. He was patient and got good timing, very clean while passing and getting passed. No touching even when he overtook two cars at the same time. Take note Lewis, that’s how it is done.

If the track stayed dry, I reckon we would have seen another Barcelona 96.


I think many people who are in the sport or who follow the sport don’t understand Hamilton in exactly the same way they(the many people) didn’t understand Senna. Hamilton is an attacking, forceful driver with great speed and even better car control. He is a driver with overtaking ability that is second to none compared with other great drivers over the last 15-20 years at least. I think people(including some of his fellow drivers) need to show more respect of him and his abilities. They(the drivers) also need to learn when the game is up against Hamilton because he usually overtakes the first time he has got a chance to. Vettel knew the game was up in China.

Button’s victory was one of the best in his career, but he was involved in two questionable incidents, which on another day could have been penalised. The incident with Hamilton didn’t look good and last year a precedence was set in Hungary in the incident involving Barrichello and Schumacher. As well as this, Button saying that I couldn’t see him(Hamilton) in my mirrors was a very lame excuse. In my eyes, he should have received the bad sportsmanship flag or a drive-through penalty. The incident with Alonso was not a very good one at all. You could have said that Button had the better line and that Alonso turned in quicker, but the fact of the matter is that Button clipped the back of the Ferrari and was nowhere near to being in front of Alonso, drive-through or stop-and-go penalty in my book. That is my view on Button.

The best good news story of the race was the impressive performance of Schumacher. His performance is the type of performance that will give him a huge chunk of confidence that he can still do it at an extremely high level. I think Rosberg is now going to find it tough against him and if Mercedes get into a position to win a race or two, I think Michael will win, not Nico.


I’ve been following F1 for almost 30 years now,I love the sport more than anything in the world. F1 has evolved in so many positive ways (technically, safety,..) but as a pure racing fan, I get a bit sad these days. F1 is becoming a fully orchestrated multi-billion dollar circus from A to Z that has to deliver, no matter what. The degree of race control that is taking place nowadays, together with the other technical “manipulations” are making the sport to artificial and prudent. But so few fans seem to bother and my grandmother is starting to love F1, so why bother myself huh 😉 Of course, this is only my thought, but I had to let it out. Anyway, thanks James for your wonderful website, and my compliments to Jenson, he did a great job yesterday.


This race could have been a great one, sadly, DRS took away quite a lot…again. Just to illustrate my point, think about Massa.

The guy bangs it into the wall, he is very lucky to have only his front wing damaged. But then what? He can use his magic button to gain on drivers that did NOT eff up.

Probably many would like to shut my mouth and say that Button passing Vettel on the final lap was not a DRS overtake. But how did Button get close enough to pressurise Vettel? He had the speed to close up on Webber and Schuey, good job. But the actual overtaking was quite straight forward flying by, therefore the last lap drama could only happen with the help of DRS.

On this site, James has posted some statsistics about the number of DRS overtakes vs Non-DRS overtakes. In my opinion, it is pointless to make such difference. One way or another, DRS affects the outcome of the race. Whether you gained a tiny fraction of time needed to stay ahed when making a pitstop or sitting by on the final lap, doesnt really matter.

This DRS seems to be there only to make life easy for the best cars. You know, when driving Williams or even a Sauber, there is nothing to DEERRRSSS anyway, because normally they never make it to that 1 second gate to attack (f.ex) RedBull or a McLaren. But the other way round, it works perfectly and really helps to smooth out bad tactical decisions, driver errors (and so on) made by the “fast but careless”. Surprises from the midfield teams? Forget about it, you are easy meat now.

Thing is, these top teams dont need that extra boost. Let them race on equal basis. The nature of the formualtion “1 second gap gives you DRS” rules out possibility to say that the rules are same for everyone.

Some non-DRS thoughts:

Too many safety car periods only because of heavy rain. The drivers have pedals to adjust speed according to the conditions. If a driver feels that poor visibililty and slippery track is too dangerous, they should make the decision to pull off the circuit and step out. No need to interrupt racing with red flags or safety car all the time, the track was never completely blocked.


“Too many safety car periods only because of heavy rain. The drivers have pedals to adjust speed according to the conditions. If a driver feels that poor visibililty and slippery track is too dangerous, they should make the decision to pull off the circuit and step out. No need to interrupt racing with red flags or safety car all the time, the track was never completely blocked.”


then this shows just how little you actually know about racing.

there is no way they could have continued racing in the heavy rain sunday. there was so much standing water around the track that we almost certainly would have had cars going off behind the safety car regardless of how slow they were going.

in conditions like that it isn’t a case of simply slowing down, its a case of the tyres not been able to handle the amount of water & this is when you get aquaplaning.

in japan (where i did some racing 10+yrs back) we used to have monsoon tyres because we got so much heavy rain over there. These tyres also had limits but would be suitable 90% of the time.

good year brought monsson tyres in 96-98 but they were never required so bridgestone/michelin & now pirelli didn’t/dont bother with the additional expence of manufacturer/transportation of something which may only get used once every 2-3yrs if that often.

as to visibility, again you clearly have never done 190mph when you can’t see your own front wheels.

all the fans who think the safety car/red flag was unnecisary on sunday would very quickly change there mind if they even tried racing anything at speed in similar conditions & it seriously annoys me when people try to think they know better than the drivers when it comes to those conditions!


Question for you James or anyone else on here,

Schumacher has struggled on ultimate 1 lap pace compared to Rosberg since he has been back but most of the time his race pace as been on par.

Schumacher was in second when the Saftey car went in, the track was dry and very green and it just looked like he had very little grip, braking so early into corners etc, does Schumacher have a hard time getting the Mercedes tyres up to temperature? as Rosberg seems to be able to go alot quicker initially, if this is the case why is that?


Hi James, we saw the good old rain master in Schumi, who was setting fastest laps on intermediates.

Had the track stayed wet, do you think he would have won the race or finish second?

Not to take anything away from Jenson who drove the beat race of his career.


James, on a totally separate issue; after watching the Spanish, Monaco and Canadian races my question is this; is the Mclaren now faster than Red Bull during the race?


Would love to see official explanation of Button’s drive through penalty . . if anyone has a link it would be good.

Was it during the 1st SC period at the start of the race or after Hamilton stopped and Button was getting back to the pits to put Inters on ?


Are all the people who are agnry about Kobayashi and Schumi loosing out feeling that way because their favoured drivers lost out due to DRS having got into those places “without using DRS”? I mean did Schumi not use any DRS to get into second to start with?

Everyone had DRS and you only use it if you are within 1 second of the car in front through the detection zone. To get to within 1 second you generally have to be faster than the guy in front.

Kobayashi also had DRS and could not use it at the restart against Vettel. Why? Because he was no quick enough and ultimately that is the reason why he could not hold on to second, not the fact that those behind him used DRS. If he was quick enough, he should have pulled away.

If I have to choose between races where a clearly faster car can not overtake (e.g. Abu Dhabi last year) and one like yesterday where overtaking happens, I choose overtaking any day.



“Are all the people who are agnry about Kobayashi and Schumi loosing out feeling that way because their favoured drivers lost out due to DRS having got into those places “without using DRS”? I mean did Schumi not use any DRS to get into second to start with?”

I am the complete opposite of a Schumacher fan, but I was willing him onto the podium, only for DRS to spoil it. Schumacher drove a great race and deserved a podium.

Also Schumacher didn’t use DRS much, if at all as the device was only enabled later on in the race.


I believe DRS was not activated until late in the race, Schumi having made most or all of his many passes without DRS.

Great shame he was denied a very well deserved podium.



Do u know if webber’s kers was working in the race?


Webber and Vettel both said after the race that it was “on and off”


Every season I bemoan the policing of the sporting regulations. Whilst I understand that the race stewards are privy to far more information than the typical “armchair enthusiast” I think if you ran a pole questioning if there was “fair and consistent application of the rules” the results would be a landslide.

It was an interesting race, marred again by inconsistencies in the application of the sporting regs and too much time behind the safety car.


Look at it this way, in the last 2 to 3 seasons, if you look at the top drivers I am sure Vettel and Hamilton have been involved in the most crashes, and probably Alonso too. Who are the best drivers on the grid again? Aaaahah, the same guys! It happens to the best of them and that’s the whole beauty of racing. I for one would not have it any other way.

Lewis is going through a rough patch right now where everything appears to be going wrong for him but this too will pass and I am sure one or two good races are all it will take to turn his season around. Didn’t we all think that Vettel’s and Alonso’s world championship chances were all but over after Spar last year? Look how that turned out.


Is anyone else a bit dissapointed in the Stewards being a bit soft concerning race starts, safety cars with respect to the rain.

Yes it’s dangerous but this is where we use to get random results. This way the better cars still managed to filter their way into the front. And the results turn out to be something similar to a dry race



Hi James,

I wondered if you happened upon any information as to why the Red Bulls were so much faster than everyone else on full wets in the wet? As the track dried the gap in speed closed but clearly Vettel and Webber were really fast in the rain.

I only enjoyed this race because of Schumacher driving like old, and because Vettel didn’t win (Your good Seb your just nowhere near as good as your car is). Button was lucky today, for me, Hamilton was in a blind spot somewhat and should have braked, but Button I feel caused the collision with Alonso. Button could have given a little more room, he would have lost the corner. Alonso hardly closed, staying on the outside, and still got punted off.. it wasn’t even a side by side collision here…Button hit his rear tire. I do like Jenson, but he got lucky today. Alonso and Hamilton would have beaten him had there been no collisions.

On a side note, another instance (There was a race last year also) where the safety car was out longer than it should be…I think it could have gone in on lap 31 instead of lap 35. Come on…it was less wet than the early part of the race. Maybe I was more irked because it was past 4am…but if we are watching from 1am to 6am on Monday morning I wish they’d at least let us see some action.


Surely the amount of time behind the safety car could be negated by the use of cranes a la Monaco? The stewards at Monaco seem to be able to clean cars out of the way and off the track so much quicker than anywhere else. Especially at places like Montreal and Valencia, Singapore and other street circuits the use of cranes would mean less laps behind the safety car?


I sat glued to the BBC coverage from start to finish. loved the racing,what a mix of rain, not knowing how the Perell wets would handle, drivers out driving their cars, DRS, a marshall falling on track in front of oncoming cars…. frightening. MSc getting to show his wet weather skills and cunning again, a last minute lock up by Seb causing him to leave the dry line.

Best overtake for me… Jenson swinging onto the (very) wet line to go past Mark Webber while on slick tyres, esp as Mark had a moment as Jenson went past him.

Also praise to Martin Brundle and David Coulthard for the great ‘fill’ during the red flag period.

Another Bafta maybe?


The end result was brilliant but that doesn’t excuse the so many rubbish decisions that skewed tha race

Why on earth did the race start behind a safety car? Have none of the current rulers ever seen any of Senna’s wet races?????

To see the cars lap after lap following a safety car until the track became suitable fo intermediates was just ridiculous, what is the race director on?????

Who knows how the race would have panned out had it been run under the same rules as the greatest of all wet races in Donington???

Last point, if the main problem is the cars plank under the body when it’s wet then why don’t the FIA bring in a rule that should in be deemed a wet race that the cars have to raise their ride height by an inch or two (all cars have both brakes and accelerators), this would show those who have the ultimate skill


you are 100% right, I also have difficulties understanding the excitement about yesterdays race. I was pretty frustrated about the way the race was controlled by Charlie and his team, just like a bad referee ruining a great soccer game.


At least theres one then well said


Button made a superb work – from zero to hero!

Big congratulations to him!!!


(1) Hamilton-Button – impossible to say it was Button’s fault given (i) lack of visibility meant no way one could be sure Button had seen Hamilton; and (ii) Button kept on racing line. Driving at 150mph+ with no visibility in the wet, the driver who does something unexpected – i.e. Hamilton, here – takes a massive risk. Moreover, the incident was exactly the same as one constantly sees with Hamilton – not an overtaking move in any real sense, just putting his nose alongside someone’s rear tyre and hoping that they’ll jump out of the way. It’s bad enough in the dry, but it’s madness in the wet: you’re banking not only on the other driver to be cooperative, but also on the other driver being hyper-aware of where you are. Do not be fooled by Button’s ‘apology’ – Button / Mclaren well knew that Hamilton was at risk of a further reprimand if not a race suspension, so Mclaren could not afford for Button to give a strong view re Hamilton’s antics.

(2) Alonso-Button. Button had the corner, gave Alonso as much room as possible by going right up on the kerb. Alonso did out-brake Button, but was on the outside – no room for both to go through the chicane. I’d attribute blame – 60% Alonso / 40% Button, but clearly a racing incident rather than unfair driving of any sort. NB, there was little prospect of Button getting penalised by the time the matter got before the stewards – a penalty would have simply handed 10 more points to Vettel and that’s hardly in Alonso/Ferrari’s interest, so they were likely happy enough to say racing incident. NB2, Alonso and Button actually get on reasonably well. NB3, past history shows Button as a conspicuously fair driver – he’s got a little bit of capital in the bank with the stewards (contrast e.g. Hamilton).


Not even Button is either a saint or Hamilton a devil.


So what you’re saying Adrian is that overtakes have to be done and dusted on the straight and the car has to be clearly in front before the corner.

Everyone in F1 is crying out for overtaking yet people like yourself only want it done in a certain fashion where it’s clean and safe.

Once again, that is not F1! It’s not meant to be easy and there are supposed to be risks involved. That’s why it’s so exciting to see an overtake through a corner.

Ask yourself this: Do you get excited when someone drives straight around the car infront having used DRS? I don’t. It’s pathetic and cheating to an extent. What gets me excited is when someone passes the car infront by late braking or daring dart down the inside of a high speed corner.

Once again Lewis comes off second best for trying to overtake. If I were him, I wouldn’t bother any more.


If you re-read my post, you’ll see I have no problem with hard racing, nor any problem that on occasion this will result in contact. I’m perfectly happy that e.g. Alonso-Button was a racing incident.

My problem with Lewis’ overtaking is not that it’s necessarily dangerous, but rather that he is constantly putting his nose in places where he is relying either on the other car to jump out of the way or there’s inevitably going to be contact. The incidents that I have in mind are not ones where Lewis arrives at a corner side-by-side with another car, but rather where he punts the rear corner of the other car. It’s not that it’s dangerous, but rather that it’s unfair and often counterproductive (and hardly a demonstration of skilled overtaking). In the present case, it was not only both of those but also pretty stupid given the probability that the car in front would not see him coming and also given that the car in front is his teammate. It’s hardly accidental that not only the stewards, but also the luminaries of the sport are lining up to tell Lewis to calm down (to put it at its lowest) – e.g. Stirling Moss, Fittipaldi, Lauda, Stewart etc. all of whom were hard racers (well maybe Lauda wasn’t a ‘hard racer’…) at a time when the sport was truly dangerous (as Lauda in particular well knows).


“constantly putting his nose in places where he is relying either on the other car to jump out of the way or there’s inevitably going to be contact”

That just simply isn’t true. Maybe you should stop listening to Fittipaldi & Lauda and come up with your own conclusions.

I have no quarrels with the attempted overtake on Webber, it was far too advantageous given the conditions. However, Hamilton isn’t the only one that’s tried an ambitious overtake before and given the time, I’m sure I could find examples for every driver on the grid (except Vettel who doesn’t need to overtake). Does anyone remember the pass Hamilton made on Raikkonen in 2007 at Monza where he was about 50 metres back. Don’t recall many compaints back then.

Lauda is a hypocrite anyway. He’s applauded Hamilton’s aggressive driving style many a time before.

I just think this whole thing is being blown out of proportion and that the level of abuse he gets is undeserved. Let’s face it, we’re really only talking about the last 2 races, aren’t we. Monaco is a farce and he wasn’t the only driver who attempted an overtake (look at DiResta’s move at the hairpin which was much more ambitious than Lewis’ – yet does he receive the same amount of criticism? NO). I really can’t blame any driver who spends 30 laps behind a car which is clearly slower and then resorts to a risk.

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