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Canadian Grand Prix 2023

Button's Canada 2011 win is overhyped - we only want to remember a great race

12 years have passed since Jenson Button's most famous win – but it is far from the greatest Formula 1 race ever. We only want to remember it so.

Button Canada 2011
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To news overview © xpb.cc

It is arguably the most famous win of Jenson Button's Formula 1 career and one of the most dramatic endings of a race, but the 2011 Canadian Grand Prix is severely overhyped.

A last-lap pass for the lead, two-hour rain delay and the dominant driver throwing away an easy win should make for a fantastic recipe, but this is a race that has become wrapped up in its own hullabaloo.

Nostalgia and the ending have combined to create the illusion of a great race, but we all need to be disabused of that notion.

2011 Canadian Grand Prix is overhyped

The mystic of the 2011 visit to Montreal has overtaken the reality. This was Sebastian Vettel's race and he was utterly dominant throughout, only being pegged back by the heavy rain and resulting Safety Cars.

This was blown exhaust era Vettel in his Red Bull pomp and he was set for one of the all-time classic wet weather drives. Maybe not as good as his first win in Italy 2008, but very good nonetheless.

Button on the other hand had a comically bad day and by rights should have been nowhere near the podium, let alone forcing Vettel into that final lap mistake.

Firstly, he collided with McLaren teammate Lewis Hamilton in the opening laps, putting the then just 2008 champion out of the running and picking himself up a puncture for visit one of six through the pit lane.

Button's day goes from bad to worse

He was then caught speeding behind the Safety Car, earning a drive-through penalty and then, by Lap 19, was in again for full Wets, having abandoned the Intermediates.

Come Lap 36 and Button was lucky not to receive another penalty for clouting Fernando Alonso into the Turn 4 barrier and out of the race. Cue another pit stop for yet more damage.

15 laps later, the track was dry enough for slick tyres, with Button – always an expert in wet/dry conditions – among the first to take the plunge, having been given a huge break when a Safety Car allowed him to close up to the back of the pack from dead last.

His charge through the field was certainly an outstanding example of how to master the conditions, dispatching both Mark Webber and Michael Schumacher to lie second and begin to close in on Vettel.

But he was never going to pass the #1 Red Bull, unless a mistake came.

And as we all know, at Turn 6 on that final lap, Vettel slightly miscalculated, put a tyre on the damp patch and around the Red Bull went – the German doing a fantastic job to catch the slide and salvage second place.

Why Canada 2011 is overhyped

After the 2023 Australian GP, this author was involved in a debate around the restart shootout and what F1 stood to gain by it.

The argument surrounded the idea of 'peak-end theory' whereby the ending of a sports event, if memorable, tends to cloud our judgements when reminiscing about it years later.

The general idea is that if the ending, like that of Canada 2011, is a 'OMG, WTF just happened?!', we will remember the whole race as being like that, when in actuality, the race is a bit of a dud and rather dull.

Another example of this is the 2008 Brazilian GP. That is only remembered for the final corner. It was not a great race. Felipe Massa dominated and, but for Toyota's gamble with Timo Glock on dry tyres just failing, we would not remember it as much as we do today.

Had Button not done his best to hit everything or everyone and been on Vettel's gearbox for the whole race in Montreal, harrying him into cracking under the pressure, that is a different story.

Instead, the 2011 Canadian Grand Prix is a victim of its own mystic, one that if light is shone on what actually happened, comes out as not as rose-tinted as we all want to remember.

			© xpb.cc
	© xpb.cc

F1 2023 Canadian Grand Prix RN365 News dossier

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