We endured a grand prix yesterday on 12th June 2011 in length of 4 hours, 4 minutes and 39 seconds, there were five safety car periods leading to several shots of a bored looking Bert Mylander, Jenson Button was in every position at some point in the race, The track went from wet to moist to monsoon to wet to moist to dry to whoa, don’t drive on that bit!, Lewis Hamilton was blamed for everything including no doubt the two marshall slip ups during the event, Schumacher Webber and Button drove around everyone, seven drivers didn’t finish – six of those were weather related crashes, Kobayashi made both brilliant and terrible decisions and everyone got very wet (well except Mercedes,they had tents!)
Phew, I think that covers it, if you want more about the first part of the race, I wrote all about it during the break yesterday, if not read on for part two!
Now that’s out of the way, lets have a look at some specific detail. Jenson Button is undoubtedly the talk of the sport right now and rightly so. he produced a belter of a drive to come from the very back of the race to the very front by the end of the final lap. Lets not forget Jenson was hit by his team-mate, was haemorrhaging time using intermediates too early, lost even more time hitting into Alonso and found himself stuck behind several slower (and faster) cars.
This would on any other day be game over, but not yesterday as Button drove magnificently around his opponents and kept up consistently impressive lap times in the second half of the race. But Jenson did this rather quietly. We were all focusing on the battles at the front between Schumacher, Webber and Vettel. Most people no doubt had forgotten Button was even in the Grand Prix. But due to a combination of great driving, handling the conditions superbly (in the latter stages of the race admittedly) and a little bit of luck, the Brit closed in on the top three. With the help of DRS he was able to dispatch both Webber and Schumacher with ease and then it was on to Vettel.
It’s incredible to think that after all this time with Vettel strongly leading from pole and Button having been in every position thinkable, that the two were seconds apart in the final laps. Button was closing, but not quite fast enough – it was all going to come down to the final corner of the race, surely!
But it happened a few corners earlier when we saw the truth that Vettel is human. I don’t know if it was the pressure or just a wheel offline in the wet, but Vettel slid giving Button the lead. I did feel sorry for Vettel at this moment, he’s a great driver and doesn’t really deserve the wave of cheers that no doubt happened across the UK (and possibly a few other countries) when he made his error. But it was an amazing moment, high power sporting action at it’s best. Jenson Button won what was one of the most enthralling races I have ever watched.
But it wasn’t just Button who shone. I couldn’t be happier to see Michael Schumacher back up there in the mix. It was the first time since his comeback last year that Schumacher has actually driven like the Schumacher of old. A combination of good decisions and great handling of the wet weather (was always his strongpoint), Michael battled through the field and made it up to second (after a great bit of opportunistic driving against Massa and Kobayashi). This really is where he deserved to stay in my opinion. He lost the position due to DRS as both Button and Webber (eventually) streamed past him with the new system.
It’s a great shame because although DRS helped set up the Webber/Button battle, it also denied us of a proper fight between Schumacher and Button. Jenson was two car-lengths ahead of the German by the corner after the DRS zone. It was just a bit too easy. And who on earth decided that Canada should have two DRS zones, one was more than enough – that system still needs refining.
But despite losing out on a podium, Schumacher drove excellently yesterday, well above the capabilities of a still disappointing Mercedes racecar. It will be interesting to see if this was a one-off or whether Michael can keep this momentum and continue challenging for the bigger points in 2011.
Despite the success, a few teams had a torrid day in the rain. Ferrari were looking very strong before Sunday, but it all fell to pieces in the race. Alonso never really looked comfortable in the wet weather and ended up a victim of it when Button slid into him. Massa was driving impressively, fa better than his team-mate, until he also made a mistake tagging the back of Kartikeyan and losing his front wing. He recovered to sixth, but it was still a bad day in the office for all involved at the prancing horse.
Renault Lotus (or whatever they’re now called) must also be feeling quite disappointed thinking at what could have been. Nick Heidfeld was running high throughout the entire race until he had a frightening incident with Kobayashi in which the German drive over his own front wing and lost control. Despite fifth place from Vitaly Petrov, it was very disheartening for a team that need to be getting better results now.
Kobayashi ended up having a much more enjoyable day, running as high as second for the majority of the race before falling to seventh by the chequered flag.
Just a quick mention to Emerson Fittipaldi who I don’t suppose had any idea how busy a day it was likely to be in the Stewards room. It seemed every five minutes there was another stewards inquiry announced, but luckily they decided against giving Jenson Button any penalties for his questionable antics with Hamilton and Alonso.
But wow, what a Grand Prix. You can’t call formula one boring after that. It was a long old wait leading to a five-and-a-half-hour long broadcast from the BBC, but it was more than worth it, sport at it’s absolute best. And the winner wasn’t a certain man called Vettel… normal service will be resumed in Valencia!