A decade ago, on June 12, 2011, one of the great, perhaps the greatest, comeback races unfolded on a lakelike Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. Jenson Button, who two years earlier had claimed a most unlikely World Championship title for Brawn GP, progressed from 21st after 40 laps to first after 70. But that is only half the story.
This was the grand prix that really did have it all: a 24-car grid featuring no fewer than six former and future world champions, red flags, a two-hour rain suspension, five safety cars, punctures, two collisions for the winner and six visits to the pits. In all the race lasted just over four hours. As Jenson remembered later, “It was one of those races that felt like everything was going wrong for the first three and a half hours, but showed that even when it is tough you have to stay positive.”
He started on row four after the McLaren, running with a load of downforce, qualified seventh and almost immediately ran into trouble when team-mate Lewis Hamilton tried to pass on the left down the pit straight. Jenson squeezed him into the wall. “What is he doing?” shouted Button over the radio. Debris littered the track and Hamilton’s grand prix was over.