Button snatches last-gasp victory in epic Canadian Grand Prix

A safety car start protects Vettel's lead

A safety car start protects Vettel's lead

Jenson Button snatched victory in Canada today on the final lap of the race. Sebastian Vettel was leading every lap, until a slip with half a lap to go allowed Button through after laps of pressure from the McLaren. Mark Webber was 3rd, while a podium just slipped out of Michael Schumacher’s grasp. Here is the full report:

Showers in the morning and across the afternoon meant the track was soaked at the start. Oddly enough, the race was started under the safety car, despite the fact that the conditions were only mildly wet. The field, who were obliged to start on extreme wets, circulated behind Bernd Maylander for 4 laps, before the pack was released.

Fernando Alonso hounded Sebastian Vettel at the start, but the Red Bull held its ground. Lewis Hamilton dived down the inside of Mark Webber, but it ended in disaster, as the two collided. Mark was relegated to near the back of the pack, and Lewis fell behind Schumacher and Button.

A mistake from Button allowed both the Mercedes and his teammate through. Hamilton was fast on the back of Michael, but Schumacher pushed him wide at the hairpin, allowing Button past again.

Lewis Hamilton is squeezed by Jenson Button on Canada's pit straight

Lewis Hamilton is squeezed by Jenson Button on Canada's pit straight

A slow exit onto the pit straight allowed Hamilton to run alongside Button, but calamity struck. Jenson failed to check his mirrors, and accidentaly squeezed Lewis straight into the wall, taking the McLaren out with suspension damage. Button pitted for repairs, and was also the first man to take on intermediate tyres.

The safety car made its second appearance, while the rain began to fall again. Both of the McLarens were under investigation twice, for the collision, and for speeding under the safety car. When the safety car pitted, Button was awarded a drive-through for the latter, and fell to the back of the pack.

The intermediate switch turned out to be a blessing, as Button started to tear through the field. Barrichello took on the inters also, and their scintillating pace prompted Alonso and Adrian Sutil to pit three laps later. Having fallen back slightly, Fernando soon sliced past the two Renaults to take 6th.

With very little warning, a huge shower hit the track. The safety car was deployed once again, while the rest of the field pitted for extreme wets again. The Red Bulls manipulated the conditions to the max, pitting both cars for new wets, effectively giving them a free pit stop.

New race leader Felipe Massa pitted a lap later, and handed the lead back to Vettel. The man making the most progress was Kamui Kobayashi, leaping up to 2nd after staying out during the shower. The rain got much worse, as the back straight became completely saturated, and the red flag was thrown.

The drivers and teams patiently wait for the restart

The drivers and teams patiently wait for the restart

It turned out to be the correct decision by Charlie Whiting, as the rain quickly turned into an absolute downpour, completely flooding the track. For more than two hours, viewers around the world were left waiting for the downpour to end.

A second heavy shower failed to materialise, and the race was restarted under the safety car at 15:50 local time. While the field trawled around behind the safety car, Heikki Kovalainen retired with a suspected loss of drive.

At the race restart, Vettel tore away, while Massa took Kobayashi at Turn 1. At the end of Lap 35, several drivers, including Button, took on intermediate tyres. However, not even a few laps had passed before Bernd Maylander was out again. Jenson Button was squeezed by Fernando Alonso at Turn 3, and the Ferrari came off worse, spinning and hitting the barriers. The McLaren pitted with a front left puncture.

Even though most of the field were now on intermediates, the stewards made the call to enable DRS with 24 laps remaining. Meanwhile, Michael Schumacher got past Heidfeld to move up into 4th.

Button displayed his mastery of the tricky conditions, once again slicing up the field to 12th position. Slips from Pastor Maldonado and Sebastien Buemi allowed the McLaren back into the points.

Mark Webber was the first to bravely go out on super-softs. The battle for second took an intriguing turn, with Michael Schumacher shocking everyone by blasting his way past both Massa and Kobayashi when the Sauber ran wide.

Unfortunately, Massa lost his podium spot when, while lapping a backmarker, he ran onto the wet side of the track, slipped and knocked off his front wing. He pitted for repairs, handing 3rd to Mark Webber, who had gained nicely from his early stop. He was soon all over the back of the Mercedes.

Kobayashi was now falling quickly down the field. Nick Heidfeld was much faster, but accidentaly clipped his front wing against the Sauber. The wing then dislodged, and launched the Renault into the air, sending debris everywhere and ruling Heidfeld out. Incredibly, the safety car made yet another appearance as the marshals cleared up the debris.

The race restart saw Schumacher falter, and come under huge pressure from Webber and Button, who had torn his way through the pack yet again. Webber tried a move at the final corner, but ran wide and handed 3rd place to Button. Jenson, being no slouch, quickly soared past Schumacher, with Webber taking the Mercedes a lap later.

With 2 laps to go, Button began hounding Vettel for the win. A 1.1 second gap on the back straight ruled out DRS, so the battle went to the final lap. With Button quickly inside the 1-second window, the tension became unbearable as Jenson sized up the Red Bull.

However, he didn’t need to use the rear wing at all. At Turn 5, on the last lap, Sebastian ran wide on the damp track, handing the win to Button, amid a deafening roar from the crowd. The duo of Webber and Schumacher were too far behind to capitalise, but the damage was done, as Button sailed to the finish to take a astonishing win.

After a drive-through penalty, two collisions with two punctures and falling to 21st with 20 laps to go, the Briton managed one of the most incredible comebacks of Formula 1 history.

However, it wasn’t over yet. Kamui Kobayashi had been reeled in by Felipe Massa, and on the final straight on the final lap, DRS put the two cars alongside as they crossed the finish line. An incredibly close finish for 6th was awarded to Massa by less than a tenth of a second.

After one of the most chaotic races in F1 history, it was a relief to see a driver other than Vettel on the top spot. However, the championship will still be a struggle for the Briton, as there s a 60-point gap to the Red Bull driver.

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