McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh has said Jenson Button's victory in the F1 2011 Canadian Grand Prix 'almost defied credence' and he has branded the Englishman's performance 'absolutely unbelievable'.
Button took the win on the very final lap after hunting down Sebastian Vettel and pressurising the German into a mistake. It was a remarkable turnaround, especially given he visited the pits six times, including once for a drive-through penalty.
“The 2011 Canadian Grand Prix may well be remembered as one of the most eventful, exciting and suspenseful races in F1 history,” Whitmarsh reflected. “After a spell of torrential rain that made the circuit undriveable and triggered a lengthy red flag period, the race restarted with Jenson in 21st place.
“It soon became apparent that his car was in good shape, but what followed almost defied credence.
“In fact I think I've heard the word 'unbelievable' shouted at me by joyful colleagues about a hundred times this afternoon, and in truth Jenson's drive was exactly that: absolutely unbelievable. Other adjectives that spring to mind are 'heroic', 'majestic', 'magnificent' and 'superb'!
“The boys did a great job too – they performed six pitstops for Jenson alone, in difficult conditions, under enormous pressure – and this dramatic win underlines the extraordinary team spirit that exists within Vodafone McLaren Mercedes.
“Our car's race pace has been consistently strong in Montreal today, in Monte-Carlo two weeks ago, and in Barcelona a week before that; next we'll go on to Valencia, where we'll be hoping to build on this victory and that consistent baseline of competitive speed.”
Despite Button's victory though, it wasn't all smiles at McLaren. Indeed it looked like the weekend would end in the worst possible way on lap 7, when Button and his team-mate, Lewis Hamilton touched, an incident that forced the latter to retire. The stewards later declared it a racing incident – just like Button's clash with Fernando Alonso on lap 38 [see separate story - click here
“Lewis had a frustratingly short race, which ended when he and Jenson made contact at the beginning of the start-finish straight,” Whitmarsh continued. “We took the decision to ask him to stop his car on the track, and our post-race inspection revealed that that was the correct choice: his suspension was damaged to such an extent that it would have been impossible to continue.
“In our view it was just a racing incident, and both Lewis and Jenson share that view. So did the FIA stewards, who did an excellent job in tricky conditions today. Sometimes an accident is no-one's fault, and this was one of those occasions.
“Like Jenson, Lewis is already looking forward to Valencia now, where I hope and expect that MP4-26, and both its drivers, will be capable of scoring another win. Bring it on!”