Jenson Button has admitted that having now triumphed in five of the opening six grands prix of the 2009 Formula 1 World Championship campaign following his Monaco Grand Prix glory, he would have hoped for a greater lead in the title chase – and though he knows he 'has an advantage over the others', he insists 'it's all to play for' over the balance of the campaign.
The Brawn GP star led team-mate Rubens Barrichello home in another crushing Brawn GP one-two around the narrow, tortuous streets of the glamorous Principality, in so doing inscribing his name upon a trophy that has previously been lifted by no fewer than 17 of the sport's world champions.
The Briton did so by dint of a flawless performance in which he staved off an early attack from Barrichello and perfectly looked after his 'super-soft' Bridgestone rubber in the opening stint as his principal competitors –the veteran Brazilian and Red Bull Racing rival Sebastian Vettel chief amongst them – conceded crucial seconds. That enabled him to open up a commanding advantage over his pursuers by the time he came in to make his first pit-stop on lap 17 – and from thereon in he was never again challenged, even if he did have a little difficulty in parking his car once the chequered flag had fallen...
“Wow! It sounds wicked!” Button enthused afterwards of his success. “I crossed the line and I said to the boys 'Yeah! Monaco baby!' and it's so true. This one means so much for all of the team. I said before the race here it doesn't (mean so much) – that might have been a little white lie. I didn't want to put any pressure on myself, but to win here is exceptional and the team have worked fantastically. I know I keep saying that, but it's the truth – I cannot say how much they've helped me over the past few months, so well done to them all.
“Having a 16-second lead before the first pit-stop meant a lot. I knew that I'd looked after the softer tyres more than Rubens had, and then the team said 'Prime' tyres [in the pit-stop]. I wasn't quite sure, but obviously they had all the information from everyone else so we put the Primes on and the car was working well. Rubens was catching me a bit, but I think I had it all under control.
“I then pushed at the end of the stint and pulled out another two or three seconds knowing that he was stopping a couple of laps later, and from then on really you have an inkling that there's the possibility of a win, but you don't get carried away because Monaco is Monaco and it's so different to anywhere else with the barriers. That made it quite difficult, and even when you're out in the lead with a big gap, you've got to concentrate like you would not believe. The race felt like it went on forever, and you feel that the barriers are getting closer and closer as the end of the race approaches.
“It's a very strange feeling, because you start backing off a little bit but in reality it's the worst thing because when you lose concentration anything can happen. So much was going through my mind. You start thinking 'if I get this to the end I'm going to win in Monaco. I had to really concentrate, but over the last two laps I knew I had a big enough gap so I did slow down and I took it all in, and they were a very enjoyable two laps. I had the biggest smile on my face – my jaw was hurting! [It was] a great end to the weekend, and then I parked in the wrong place... I'm not very good at parking!
“I then had an impromptu sprint down the pit straight to the podium! Running 400 metres with your helmet on after a race in Monaco, normally you would think 'crazy', but when the adrenaline's pumping you'll do anything! In a way I'm sure that everyone that wins in Monaco is going to want to do the same, because it's different and so nice when you're running down and everyone's high-fiving you. It was amazing to get such a fantastic reception from the crowd. It was a really emotional moment. We all know the truth – this circuit is fantastic. It's completely different to any other circuit we race on and to win here is a great feeling.
“Winning the Monaco Grand Prix is something that you dream about as a child and as a racing driver, and the reality of taking that victory just feels awesome. To win in Monaco is truly a special feeling. It's been an unbelievable day. With Rubens taking a superb second place, a one-two finish for the Brawn-Mercedes team in Monaco is fantastic. The car felt good today but we didn't have the best of starts to the weekend, so it makes this victory even more of an achievement. For the team, for Mercedes-Benz and for my family who were here in Monaco watching the race, today has to be the high point of what has been an exceptional season.”