Success delayed is not sucess denied. Jenson Button's entry to Formula One a decade ago was meant to set the world alight -- so much so his autobiography appeared before he had turned a wheel in anger. But lo, victories and titles failed to ...
Success delayed is not sucess denied.
Jenson Button's entry to Formula One a decade ago was meant to set the world alight -- so much so his autobiography appeared before he had turned a wheel in anger. But lo, victories and titles failed to appear. He struggled with contracts, and then with cars as compatriot Lewis Hamilton wrote the glory story that was to be his. Now Button's promise has come good.
The Englishman won Sunday's Grand Prix of Monaco in a pole-to-flag performance not offered by a Briton since Sir Jackie Stewart in 1973. Button dominated the proceedings, scampering away to lead by as many as 15 seconds and cruising through 78 laps to finish nearly eight seconds ahead of teammate Rubens Barrichello. The duo posted the third Brawn GP one-two in six races and doubled the team's lead on the constructors field. Button boosted his points total to 51; Barrichello follows on 35.
"We've got Monaco, baby!" Button yelped into his pit radio after the checkered flag fell.
A resident of the Mediterranean principality, Button then parked his BGP001 in the wrong parc ferme, an act that prompted him, helmet in place, to jog his way along the pit straight -- waving to fans all the way -- so as not to keep Prince Albert waiting to hand over the trophy, one that dates to 1929.
As he hoisted that prize, Button, 29, should have felt his grip tightening on a world driving championship. Victory was his fifth this year. Rated as smooth as three-time FIA World Drivers Champion Stewart, Button has lacked a car as worthy. He has found it this season in the BGP001, a car he suffered through the Honda RA108 and Honda bowing out of the sport to receive. His reward is the top prize among F1 races.
"It's a very special day, winning here in Monaco," Button said, confessing his just-another-race attitude going in was a psychological aid for focus.
"To win here is fantastic. This circuit is very different to anything else, and I struggled at the start of the week, so, for me, that makes it even better to have come away with a victory. We've got victory in Monaco and that means a lot. A one-two finish for Brawn is exceptional. It's definitely going to go down in history, the performance of the team this year. It's been staggering. This is a great moment."
At a venue where the dictate that pole position is all, the race went to form with only Barrichello's jump off the line past Ferrari's front-row starting Kimi Raikkonen presenting a surprise. The Brawn decision to start on supersoft tire compounds enabled Barrichello to outdrag Raikkonen into the first corner, Ste. Devote. The Brawns ran off from the field from there.
Raikkonen finished third ahead of fifth-starting teammate Felipe Massa for the Scuderia's best showing of the season. But Massa had to earn it from Red Bull's Mark Webber. Webber preceded Williams F1's Nico Rosberg, who led during one Button pit stop, and Renault's Fernando Alonso. Scuderia Toro Rosso's Sebastien Bourdais rounded out the points placers, doubling his season total to two.
Butt of gossip that his job is on the line amid constructor champion Ferrari's poor start to the season, Raikkonen expressed happiness, frustraton and disappointment at once.
"We were faster than Rubens but there's no way to pass him so we lost a lot of time at the beginning and that was the only chance to try to stay behind Jenson," Raikkonen said. "But we need to be happy after the start of the season. People are still working very hard. We improved the car pretty quickly once we realized we can do something different in the rules. So we need to be pretty happy what we achieved today. I'm disappointed, definitely, but in this race we need to be a bit happy but I'm not happy with it. But for the team, it's a good result."
Bourdais staved off Force India's Giancarlo Fisichella, whose ninth place is the team's best finish this season. Toyota's Timo Glock came 10th ahead of BMW Sauber's Nick Heidfeld, and McLaren Mercedes's Hamilton, whose race victory defense disappeared with poor qualifying and a gearbox change that started him from last on the grid. Toyota's Jarno Trulli, another former winner, and Force India's Adrian Sutil were the final cars circulating.
Even if the race slotted between Armco barriers becomes processional and "the walls get closer" as the race goes on, as Button asserted, drivers still find trouble. Williams F1's Kazuki Nakajima was running 10th before nosing into a tire barrier in the final laps. McLaren's Heikki Kovalainen took himself out at the swimming pool chicane with a small error. BMW Sauber's Robert Kubica retired after a miserable day of problems. "At no point was our car competitive," BMW Sauber motorsport director Mario Theissen said.
Red Bull's fourth-starting Sebastian Vettel was pressed hard by Massa to start as the German's tires went off. Vettel was outsmarted by the Brazilian, and Rosberg pressed past as well. Vettel finally smacked a tire barrier on his own, ending a lousy day after 15 laps.
The only real bumper-cars action came when Toro Rosso rookie Sebastien Buemi collected Renault's Nelson Piquet with the STR4's scoop-shovel front wing and deposited both of them out of the race at Ste. Devote on Lap 11.
Vettel remains third in driver standings with 23 points ahead of teammate Webber's 19.5. Trulli (14.5) and Glock (12) follow ahead of Alonso (11). Raikkonen has caught Hamilton on nine points and Massa improved to eight.
Red Bull-Renault (42.5 points) remain lodged behind Mercedes-powered Brawn GP among teams. Toyota (26.5) follow with Ferrari now up to fourth on 17 points, ahead of McLaren on 13. Renault has Alonso's 11, Williams-Toyota 7.5, BMW Sauber six and Toro Rosso five.
The circus moves to Turkey in a fortnight for 58 laps of fun and sun. Massa won there last year.