Canadian Grand Prix: Button wins on dramatic final lap
Jenson Button wins a rain-affected race with a stunning late charge to overtake Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel
McLaren’s Jenson Button passed Sebastian Vettel on the final lap of a thrilling Canadian Grand Prix to seal a stunning victory in difficult conditions in Montreal.
Vettel had led from pole in a rain-affected race, but after Button had sailed past Michael Schumacher and Mark Webber into second place, the McLaren driver was able to catch the defending champion at more than one second per lap.
Despite skidding wide, Vettel was able to regain control of his car to finish second ahead of Red Bull team-mate Webber, while seven-time world champion Schumacher was unlucky to miss out on his first podium since his return to the sport.
“It was a fantastic race; even if I hadn’t won I would have enjoyed it. An amazing win and possibly my best,” Button said.
“Fighting your way through the field is almost as good as winning the race, that feeling of getting one up on someone. To be on the podium is a pretty exceptional result.”
Button endured a troubled start to the race after a collision with team-mate Lewis Hamilton on lap eight, before collecting a drive through penalty for speeding behind the safety car, dropping him to last place.
Rain over the course of the morning forced the race to start under the safety car for the first four laps.
While Vettel had it comfortable up front away from any spray, championship rival Hamilton was in the wars before his collision with Button, spinning Mark Webber in Turn One on lap five, before being run wide by a seemingly unsighted Schumacher.
Hamilton’s afternoon ended on lap eight when he tried to overtake Button down the pit straight. Button looked to hold the racing line and pushed Hamilton into the pit wall, resulting in a puncture and suspected suspension damage. Hamilton then eventually dumped his car on track in Turn Five.
“Jenson made a mistake into the corner and I got the run on him,” Hamilton said. “I felt I was halfway up the outside, but he kept moving across, whether or not he saw me I don’t know, but then I was in the wall.”
Button was the first driver to switch to intermediate tyres at the end of lap eight as the safety car was deployed to recover Hamilton’s car.
And he immediately looked quicker than those on the wets, but his progress was thwarted by a drive through penalty for speeding under the safety car at the end of lap 13.
Button’s success on the intermediates triggered a host of other cars make the same move despite warnings of heavy rain.
As the rain got heavier, the race was suspended for over two hours to clear the track of standing water. On lap 24 Vettel had led from Sauber’s Kamui Kobayashi with Ferrari’s Felipe Massa in third.
When the race eventually re-started, again behind the safety car on wets, Kobayashi was able to hold off a challenge from Massa into Turn One as Vettel stormed off into the distance.
Within the first few laps, cars began diving into the pits for intermediates with the track drying significantly.
But the safety car returned on lap 37 when Button collided with Alonso, the Ferrari driver beaching his car on a kerb. Button was fortunate to recover to the pits with a puncture.
Schumacher had looked impressive from the restart and rose to fourth after passing Webber and Heidfeld.
He then took advantage of the battle for second between Kobayashi and Massa at Turn Eight to sneak round the outside of both.
Still out in front, Vettel was the last to make the move to slick tyres on lap 54 as Webber and Button began slashing the lap times.
But the safety car returned again just three laps later when Heidfeld, battling Kobayashi for fifth, collided with the wall and came to a stop down an escape road.
The safety car left the track for the final time at the end of lap 60, with Vettel still in front ahead of Schumacher, Webber and Button.
Webber then lost out to Button, who was able to pass Schumacher with five laps to go. He was lapping over a second quicker than Vettel, whose lead was down to less than two seconds just one lap later.
Webber was able to claw his way back into the podium positions on lap 68 after passing Schumacher with Button continuing to close in on Vettel.
The last lap saw Vettel’s lead cut to less than a second, and in a rare mistake under pressure, the German ran wide at Turn Six to allow Button through to claim the finest of his 10 victories.
Webber was able to hold off Schumacher to claim third, with Petrov in fifth, while Massa dramatically snatched sixth from Kobayashi on the line after using the DRS out of the final corner.
Despite starting the race from the pit lane, Toro Rosso’s Jaime Alguersuari finished eighth ahead of Williams driver Rubens Barrichello, with Sebastien Buemi rounding out the top 10 points finishers in the second Toro Rosso.
Vettel continues to lead the drivers’ championship with 161 points, with Button’s victory moving him into second with 101, ahead of Webber on 94.
In the constructors’ championship Red Bull moved on to 255 points ahead of McLaren on 186, with Ferrari back on 101.