'DRIVE OF HIS LIFE' PUTS JENSON IN WINNER'S CIRCLE
AUDI FIGHTS BACK TO WIN LE MANS
OTHER WEEKEND RACING
In what had to be one of the most spectacular races in the history of the Canadian Grand Prix, and definitely the longest, Jenson Button of Great Britain was the surprise winner in Montreal Sunday when favourite Sebastien Vettel made a crucial mistake and ran wide on the last lap and let Button through.
Vettel, the defending World Champion from Germany, finished second at le Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve and his Red Bull-Renault teammate, Australian Mark Webber, was third.
Seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher of Germany drove to a storming fourth-place finish in his Mercedes, just missing the podium.
"That was a hell of a race," said the winner over the McLaren-Mercedes team radio.
It was Button's first win of the 2011 F1 season, his first in Canada and the tenth of his Grand Prix career.
Vettel appeared headed for his sixth win in seven races, leading every lap but the last one. The pole sitter for the sixth time this year, he got slightly off line going into Turn 3 on the 70th lap and fishtailed when his tires touched wet pavement.
The bobble was enough for Britain's Button to flash past and go on to the victory.
Button came from the back of the pack on several occasions, visiting the pits six times for tire changes and one drive-through penalty.
Early in the race, he collided with his teammate, Lewis Hamilton, knocking Hamilton out of the contest.
"The incident with Lewis - I couldn’t see anything and I’ve apologised to him," Button said. "It was really a fight from then on, but I kept on pushing and I managed to get past Seb at the end."
Button said it was probably his greatest Formula One drive. "It was a fanastic race and I enjoyed it immensely. When I look back, yeah, I'd have to say it was one of my best, if not my best."
He said he planned a night out in Montreal to celebrate with his girlfriend and his father. "We'll have a great night tonight," he said.
Vettel said he was disappointed. "It was a very difficult race from start to finish. I was too conservative after the last safety car and didn't open the gap enough. I saw Jenson was coming and I was pushing and when there's only one line I wound up in the wet and it was quite easy then for him to pass."
He said it's hard to justify his mistake.
"When you have something in your hand and then you throw it all away, it's hard to accept," he said.
Vitaly Petrov of Russia finished fifth in his Renault, Felipa Massa of Brazil was sixth in his Ferrari (his teammate, Spain's Fernando Alonso, was knocked out of the race after colliding with Button, who was told to report to the stewards' office post-race to discuss the incident; they ruled he was not at fault), and Japan's Kamui Kobayashi was seventh in his Sauber-Ferrari.
Jaime Alguersuari of Spain finished eighth for Scuderia Toro Rosso, Brazilian Rubens Barrichello was ninth for Williams-Cosworth and Sebastian Buemi was tenth in the second Toro Rosso.
The race started in rainy conditions; a downpour eventually caused a two-hour rain delay. The race, which started behind the safety car at 1 p.m., finally finished just after 5 p.m.
The official time of the Grand Prix when entered in the record books will be four hours, four minutes and 37.037 seconds.
A red flag was thrown on Lap 25 of the 70-lap Grand Prix after officials determined rainy conditions were too dangerous to continue and suspended the race. It resumed shortly before 4 p.m.
Grand Prix races are either for the race distance - in this case 70 laps - or two hours, whichever comes first. When a race is red-flagged, the clock is stopped; as it turned out, the complete race was run but the clock struck two hours during the final lap.
When the downpour brought out a safety car on Lap 20, many drivers - Vettel and Button included - were telling their teams that standing water on the track made it too dangerous to continue racing.
The race had started behind the safety car because the track was still wet from morning rain. The racers were turned loose on Lap 5 but intermittent rain kept speeds down.
When he collided with Button, Hamilton was already under investigation by the stewards for spinning out Webber when the race was green-flagged on Lap 5 but the investigation was dropped till after the race because he was forced out.
Hamilton has come under fire from the stewards several times this season for on-track activity and after being hauled onto the carpet at Monaco two weeks ago, he told reporters the reason was because he is black.
He later said it had been a joke and apologized to all concerned.
McLaren's Martin Whitmarsh said neither Button nor Hamilton were responsible for the crash that sent the defending Canadian Grand Prix winner to the garage (Hamilton also won the Montreal race in 2007):
“Jenson didn't know he was there and Lewis was trying to make good progress,” he said. “There's no issue. People may criticize, but this is the way we run our race team."
OTHER RESULTS FROM THE WEEKEND’S RACING
– LE MANS: Germany’s Audi won the 24 Hours of Le Mans in an incredible comeback after not one, but two of their three Audi R18 diesel-powered cars entered in the iconic sports car race were destroyed in accidents.
André Lotterer of Germany drove the No. 2 Audi across the finish line about 13 seconds ahead of a second-place Peugeot 908 piloted by Simon Pagenaud of France.
History was made by Leena Gade of Great Britain, who became the first woman to engineer the winning car in the 79 years of the race.
Lotterer co-drove to victory with Swiss driver Marcel Fassler and French driver Benoit Treluyer. Second was held by Pagenaud, Sebastien Bourdais of France and Portugal’s Pedro Lamy. Third place went to a Peugeot raced by French drivers Nicolas Minassian, Franck Montagny and Stephane Sarrazin.
The LMP2 class was won by a Zytek-Nissan driven by Olivier Lombard of France, Tom Kimber-Smith of England and Karim Ojjeh of Saudi Arabia who finished eighth overall.
The GTE Pro Class was won by Olivier Beretta of Monaco, Tommy Milner of the United States and Antonio Garcia of Spain in a Corvette C6.R. They were eleventh overall. And the GTE Am class was won by Patrick Bornhauser and Julien Canal of France and Gabriele Gardel of Switzerland, also in a Corvette.
The two destroyed Audis had Allan McNish of Scotland and Mike Rockenfeller of Germany aboard. Aside from a severe shaking-up of the drivers, nobody was hurt in either of the devastating crashes.
– NASCAR: Jeff Gordon won the 5 Hour Energy 500 at Pocono Raceway Sunday, which was his 84th NASCAR Sprint Cup victory and ties him for third on the all-time win list with Darrell Waltrip and Bobby Allison.
It’s also the fifth time he’s won a Cup race at Pocono.
Kurt Busch finished second, Kyle Busch was third (his car flunked post-race tech by 1/16th of an inch and he and his car owner will be penalized, likely on Tuesday), Jimmie Johnson was fourth and Kevin Harvick was fifth.
Harvick gave Kyle Busch a hard time on several occasions during the race (Busch got into a fight with Harvick’s car owner, Richard Childress, several weeks ago and Childress was fined $150,000 and put on probation) and Harvick told a TV reporter later that "this is just the beginning."
– NASCAR CANADIAN TIRE: Don Thomson Jr. of Hamilton, a five-time CASCAR champion, held off 2008 NASCAR Canadian Tire Series champion Scott Steckly of Milverton in a late-race dash to the checkered flag to win the Keystone Light 200 Saturday at London’s Delaware Speedway.
Defending Canadian Tire champion D.J. Kennington of St. Thomas finished third, rookie Steven Matthews of New Liskeard was fourth and J.R. Fitzpatrick of Cambridge – who led a race-high 49 laps – rounded out the top five.
Kerry Micks of Mount Albert was sixth, followed by Brad Graham of Glencoe, Jason Hathaway of Appin, Ron Beauchamp Jr. of Windsor and Jason White of Sun Peaks, B.C., tenth.
Pete Shepherd III of Brampton won his first career Keystone Light Pole Award earlier in the day but wound up 17th after a mechanical issue forced him to drop out of the race.
Steckly leads the standings with 535 points. Thomson trails by 20 points and is followed by Fitzpatrick, Kennington and Jeff Lapcevich of Grimsby.
The Keystone Light 200 will be telecast by TSN on Sun., June 26, at 1 p.m. ET – the same day the Canadian Tire Series will be racing on the road course at Mosport in the Vortex Brake Pads 200.
– INDYCAR: Will Power was the big winner Saturday night at Texas Motor Speedway, taking the second of two races held at the high-banked, 1.5-mile oval. Power’s first IZOD IndyCar Series oval-track victory, combined with his third-place finish in the opening 114-lap race, increased his championship points lead to 21 over defending two-time champion Dario Franchitti.
Franchitti dominated the first race but could only fight his way up to seventh in the second race after the lottery for grid positions saw him starting 28th in the 30-car field.
Power, who pulled the third starting position in the Race 2 draw, took the lead from pole sitter Tony Kanaan on Lap 40.
Canadian report: In race one, in which 30 cars started, pole-sitter Alex Tagliani of Montreal finished fourth, Paul Tracy of Scarborough was 12th and James Hinchcliffe of Oakville was 20th .
In race two, Tracy was 13th, Tagliani was 14th and Hinchcliffe was 19th.
Indy 500 champion Dan Wheldon wasn’t in the race but did a fine job doing colour commentary on the telecast.