Jenson Button gets a grip in Montreal

June, 15, 2011

The championship battle in Formula One has grown quite dull, but you wouldn't know it from the excitement still occurring on the track.

Jenson Button proclaimed Sunday's win in the Canadian Grand Prix the "best victory of my career" to reporters, and there's certainly no arguing that. The 10-time F1 winner was at one point in 21st position, having made five stops already in the event, and a collision with teammate Lewis Hamilton could have shaken his confidence, but it seemed to do just the opposite.

As the track dried, Button excelled. He posted the fastest time of the race on the penultimate lap after having diced his way through the field, capitalizing on others' mistakes. He was superb in both wet and dry conditions, and fully deserved the race win. While Sebastian Vettel, Hamilton and Michael Schumacher are all names associated with supreme driving in the wet, Button is quickly becoming another name to add to the list. In his last three victories, including China and Australia last year, Button has overcome wet conditions to cross the line first.

He also completed the first last-lap overtake since Japan in 2005, when Kimi Raikkonen shot past Giancarlo Fisichella on the final circuit at Suzuka. That year also saw Raikkonen lose a race on the final lap when his suspension broke at the European Grand Prix.

Button became the 32nd driver in F1 history to notch double-digit career wins, and over the past three seasons, his nine victories are second only to Vettel.

No driver had won a grand prix having only led the final lap since Fisichella at Brazil in 2003 while driving for Jordan. That, much like Montreal, was a very compelling race. The event was run in rainy conditions and also began behind the safety car. It featured several huge accidents and an ending that left many confused. As Fisichella celebrated, Raikkonen was deemed the winner as the race length had been shortened.

The results later were altered by the FIA, and Fisichella became the winner after having officially led only the final lap. Much like Button, Fisichella had to battle back in that grand prix; after pitting early, he spent much of the early portion running outside the top 15.

The victory Sunday also vaults Button from fourth to second in the standings, 60 points shy of Vettel.

At over four hours in duration, Canada proved to be the longest race in F1 history, and Vettel nearly held on for the victory. His last-lap slip-up meant he checked in runner-up. The past three times Vettel has not won, he's still been in the mix very late in the race, a testament to his consistency.

Earlier in the season in China, Vettel held the lead with only a handful of laps to go before Hamilton got the best of him. And last year in Korea, Vettel led with just 10 laps remaining before his engine gave way. Canada was similar to that event in that early in both races there were doubts about whether the event would reach completion due to heavy rains.

Farther back in the field, Mark Webber capped an entertaining battle with Schumacher by completing the pass for third late, ensuring his third podium of the season. It meant Schumacher was relegated to merely tying his best race finish since his return (fourth), but it was by far his best drive in a Mercedes.

On the opposite end, both Fernando Alonso and Hamilton took huge hits in the championship race, having failed to collect any points in Canada. Alonso is now 92 points shy of Vettel and has 12 races to make up the difference. That means he'd need to average per race nearly an eight-point gain over Vettel to match him by the end of the season, a feat at this point that appears out of reach.

Many fans will recall that with nine races to go last year, the two-time world champion trailed leader Hamilton by 47 points and nearly came back to win the championship, but this deficit is nearly twice that.



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