Jenson Button of McLaren won yesterday’s rain-disrupted Canadian Grand Prix to move into second place in the Formula One drivers’ standings as Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel slid wide and blew the lead on the last lap.
Button, who started seventh on the grid, survived tangles with teammate Lewis Hamilton and Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso and a drive-through penalty as he charged through the field to force a critical error from Vettel after a race littered with rain delays and collisions. The event was halted for more than two hours at one point.
Series leader Vettel was second and his teammate Mark Webber was third after 70 laps of the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve in Montreal. McLaren’s Hamilton, second in the standings before yesterday, crashed out after eight laps when he collided with Button.
“For me it was a fantastic race. Even if I hadn’t won I would have enjoyed this race immensely, but it’s a win, definitely my best,” 2009 series champion Button told reporters. “I’m definitely going to be celebrating. I’ll have a good night and enjoy what I achieved. A big thank you to the team for what they’ve done.”
It was the Briton’s 10th career win and the first since the Chinese Grand Prix in April 2010. He made six trips to the pits yesterday, including the drive-through.
Michael Schumacher of Mercedes was fourth, followed by Vitaly Petrov of Lotus-Renault, Felipe Massa of Ferrari and Kamui Kobayashi of Sauber. Jaime Alguersuari (Toro Rosso), Rubens Barrichello (Williams) and Sebastien Buemi (Toro Rosso) completed the scoring positions.
Vettel leads the standings with 161 points, followed by Button on 101, Webber 94, Hamilton 85 and Alonso 69. Red Bull leads the constructors’ standings with 255 points, followed by McLaren’s 186.
Vettel on Pole
Defending series champion Vettel was in pole position for the sixth time this season and was seeking a sixth victory in 2011. Alonso and Massa were second and third on the grid, followed by Webber and Hamilton.
There was standing water on the track in places as the Grand Prix began under the safety car for the first few laps. Drivers had to put up with reduced visibility because of rain thrown up by cars in front.
When racing got under way, Vettel held off Alonso as Webber slid off the track and lost time. Then Hamilton damaged his car, putting him out of the race, when he hit the back of Button’s car as he tried to pass.
“What’s he doing?” Button asked over the team radio.
The incident caused another introduction of the safety car, and soon after Button had a drive-through penalty for speeding during that restriction.
Hamilton was penalized two weeks ago after collisions with Massa and Pastor Maldonado of Williams at Monaco. The 2008 series champion, Hamilton got the first F-1 win of his career at Montreal in June 2007 and won there again last year.
“Jenson made a mistake into the corner and I got the run on him,” Hamilton told the British Broadcasting Corp. “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.”
As rain returned, the safety car came back again and some drivers switched to wet tires, only for the race to be halted after 25 laps as rain intensified.
The race restarted two hours later, again under the safety car, with Vettel still forcing the pace. Alonso crashed out after the tangle with Button. Michael Schumacher then surged past Massa and Kobayashi to go into second place.
Vettel held off Schumacher, before Button overhauled the German to go into second and put Vettel under renewed pressure.
“I was probably too conservative at the last safety car, I didn’t open up the gap enough. I did a mistake, locked up the rear and ended up in the wet,” Vettel said.
The next event on the 19-race calendar is the European Grand Prix in Valencia, Spain, on June 26.