19 – 2011 Canadian GP


A series taken from the 162-page Motor Sport special 100 Greatest Grands Prix (other specials are available here).

Six pit stops, one puncture, two collisions, a drive-through penalty, and taking a race restart in last position. It’s not normally a winning strategy, but Jenson Button hadn’t read the script… 

Persistent drizzle dictated a safety car start and the field was unchained at the end of lap four, pole winner Sebastian Vettel edging clear until the safety car reappeared on lap eight. 

Lewis Hamilton clattered into team-mate Jenson Button on the pit straight and pulled off with his car in a precarious position, while Button pitted for a check-up.

Rain intensified a few laps after the restart and the safety car reappeared, Button having served a drive-through for lapping too quickly when it was last out. Everybody switched to wets, but even safety car speeds felt treacherous and the race was suspended for more than two hours.

View this race on the Database

It resumed with everyone on wets, but was soon neutralised again after Button and Fernando Alonso collided at Turn Four. The Spaniard retired and Button crawled to the pits with a front-left puncture. When the race restarted he was 21st – and last.

It took about 10 laps for the track to be sufficiently dry for slicks and Button, who had steamed into the top 10’s lower reaches, was one of the first to switch. He rejoined in ninth and began lapping 3sec faster than anybody – Vettel included. “The car was obviously pretty good in those conditions,” said McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh, “but most of that performance was down to Jenson.”

Button spent the rest of the race edging closer to the front – and began the final lap 0.9sec behind Vettel. The German then ran slightly wide through Turn Five… and opened the door to one of history’s unlikeliest conquests. SA

About 100 Greatest Grands Prix | From the editor Damien Smith
The Grand Prix motor races we can never forget…

This was a special one-off magazine, dedicated to our love of Grand Prix racing and produced by the same team that brings you Motor Sport each month.

It seemed a good idea: whittle down 107 years of racing history to come up with 100 GPs that could be considered the ‘greatest’ – then rank them in meritocratic order. By week three, the old grey matter was beginning to ache…

Defining greatness was the first task. There were the obvious races – the wheel-to-wheel duels, the comeback classics. But there were also individual performances of supreme dominance, races that might not necessarily have been the most exciting to witness. Greatness goes way beyond thrill-a-minute, we decided.

Choosing which races should make the list was hard enough; ranking the top 100 in some sort of order was even tougher, especially when it came to the crunch: which should be number one? We never did agree unanimously on the ‘greatest’, but if the magazine was to be finished a decision had to be taken. And that’s what I’m here for!

Will you agree with our choice and order? Probably not. But if steam begins to issue from your ears, take a deep breath. In any exercise such as this, there is no definitive list – because there can’t be. Our top 100 is based on opinion, nothing more, designed to be a bit of fun and to spark good-natured debate among fans of the world’s greatest sport.

You can download 100 Greatest Grands Prix in PDF form in the Motor Sport app.

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