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Lewis Hamilton taken out by team-mate as Sebastian Vettel lost all-time great F1 race


Ahead of this weekend’s Canadian Grand Prix, Mirror Sport remembers one of the greatest races ever to take place on the Montreal track – featuring a record-breaking comeback from Jenson Button

The McLarens were in the thick of the action from the start at the 2011 Canadian Grand Prix, as Lewis Hamilton caused Mark Webber to spin out
The McLarens were in the thick of the action from the start at the 2011 Canadian Grand Prix, as Lewis Hamilton caused Mark Webber to spin out

The Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve has played host to some iconic races over the years, and the 2011 Canadian Grand Prix might just be the best of them.

It remains the longest race in Formula 1 history at a shade over four hours from start to finish, though two of those hours saw nothing happen as intense rain caused the red flags to fly. When the cars were moving, though, the action was breathtaking.

And Lewis Hamilton was very much in the thick of it from the get-go. Just four laps had come and gone when he was involved in a collision, spinning the Red Bull piloted by Mark Webber who ended up falling to the back of the grid. But two laps later, and it was game over – which no doubt came with a dressing down from McLaren chief Ron Dennis.

That’s because this time it was Jenson Button who got a little too close to him, and the two team-mates made their own lives a lot harder. It was the end of Hamilton’s race, though Button managed to survive after limping around the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve to the pits with a puncture.

He was now a long way off race leader Sebastian Vettel, though not yet cut adrift due to the safety car being deployed as the other McLaren was recovered. The bad news continued to pour in, however, as he was slapped with a drive through penalty for speeding in the pit lane.

Button had changed to intermediate tyres which helped him move from 15th to eighth, but it wasn’t long before he needed to move back to full wets as the conditions worsened, and so he was in the pit lane for the third time. When the red flags came out, he was 10th and looked a long shot to achieve anything that day.







Jenson Button collided with Hamilton, with the latter’s race coming to an early end
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He later revealed that he used the race stoppage to admit to Hamilton that he had been at fault for their collision. “I went to go and say I was really sorry about the incident,” Button said.

“He said ‘I get it, you didn’t see me, I don’t put blame on you.’ It was a great chat with Lewis, because it meant I could focus on getting my head back in the game, getting ready for the restart.”

When the action did resume, it took one lap for another incident and he was back in the pits again, switching back to intermediates on his fourth visit. He would be back soon – contact with Fernando Alonso left the Spaniard beached and Button with a puncture and damage to his front wing.

After that fifth visit to the garage – it really was a miracle that Button finished at all that day – he was running dead last and more than a minute behind Vettel, who still led amid all the chaos behind him. The safety car let Button close the gap, and set up the grandstand finish that was about to come.

A brave call to be one of the first to gamble on slick tyres paid off, as some others scrambled around on wets. He was fourth with 15 laps to go, and as many seconds behind Vettel as he began to dream of doing something special. Only Webber, who himself had recovered admirably, and Michael Schumacher were between them now.

A mistake from Webber allowed the Briton through to third, and Schumacher was then passed with six laps to go. Vettel locked up on the first corner of the final lap, giving Button the belief that his race engineer had been trying to tell him could come true – he could win this race.







Button somehow managed to secure victory despite visiting the pits five times
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He later said he had planned on diving up the inside on the final corner and seeing what happened, but it turned out he never needed to.

Another error from the under-pressure German at Turn 6 left the door ajar, and this time it was costly as the McLaren slipped through before crossing the line to secure a last-to-first victory that no-one would ever forget.

Through the entire race Button had led for just half-a-lap, spent much of his time outside the points and visited the pits five times – still a record for an F1 race winner. If anyone can produce anything half as special in Montreal this weekend, fans will be in for a treat.

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