McLaren Formula One driver Jenson Button of Britain celebrates after winning the Canadian F1 Grand Prix at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal.
McLaren Formula One driver Jenson Button of Britain celebrates after winning the Canadian F1 Grand Prix at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal. REUTERS

When the rain finally stopped falling in Montreal, a little over four hours after the start of the Canadian Grand Prix, Jenson Button had time to reflect on quite how he had snatched victory from Sebastian Vettel on the last lap of a wonderfully chaotic, surreal afternoon of motor racing.

Button's 10th victory, his first since last year's Chinese Grand Prix 14 months ago, was achieved after the Briton swept from last to first in an incident-packed race. Vettel now leads the championship by 60 points from Button.

A fantastic race saw the safety car utilised five times and included a two-hour stoppage as the heavens opened and rendered the track unusable.

"What a race. What a race," Buttton screamed as he crossed the finish line to spark scenes of wild celebration in the McLaren garage and across a wet and miserable Ile Notre Dame in general. Button later called this victory the best of his life.

"I kept on pushing and I managed to get past Seb at the end. Another great win for me and possibly my best."

McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh said, "What a race. He is driving fantastically and we know he deserves it and hope everyone else does, too.

"He just attacked and attacked and delivered a fantastic race. We knew he had to put pressure on Sebastian - and Sebastian made a mistake. From Jenson, that's the stuff of champions, that's the stuff of dreams."

Vettel conceded ruefully, "If you have it in your hands and give it away it is not the sweetest feeling."

BBC F1 commentator Martin Brundle said, "At one point, we were wondering if Button would catch the Hispanias before the race restarted under the safety car and now he's won the race!

"That is one of the races of his life and the best grand prix of a spectacular career."

Co-commentator David Coulthard added, "What a fantastic drive from Jenson Button. It looked like it was all lost and he's well aware you count the winners at the chequered flag."

Inspired driving

One of the most sensational races for years got under way in inauspicious circumstances as the safety car led the drivers off the start line.

The drama began almost as soon as the cars were released on lap five, when Hamilton - almost inevitably given his track record this season - tangled with Mark Webber's Red Bull.

Webber spun and Hamilton was forced around the outside of the Red Bull, rejoining behind Button.

Webber later said he was surprised at Hamilton's "clumsy" move, especially given how long there was left to run in the race.

Hamilton then attempted an optimistic manoeuvre on Michael Schumacher at the hairpin but only ended up losing sixth place to Button.

In an overeager stab at reclaiming that position the 26 year-old took advantage of a mistake by his McLaren team-mate as they exited the final chicane before the start of lap eight.

Hamilton had the run up the inside along the start-finish straight but Button, unsighted due to the heavy rain and spray, did not see him marauding up the inside and moved across to hold the racing line, shunting Hamilton into the pit wall.

While Hamilton limped around the track before eventually retiring, Button screamed over the team radio, "What's he doing?"

Button later apologised to his team-mate, "I couldn't see anything when he was alongside me. I have apologised to him," he said.

The collision between the two cars led to another safety car deployment and as the rain started falling in thicker tranches the race officials red flagged the race.

It would be over two hours before the cars were allowed to restart, again behind the safety car. Almost immediately Button was involved in an incident with Alonso that forced him to the pits and the Spaniard into retirement.

Button was running in last place when the race restarted on lap 40 but he carved his way through the field, easing past Schumacher with five laps to go before bearing down on Vettel's three-second lead.

In a tense climax, the two drivers began the last lap separated by less than a second at which point Vettel made a mistake - his first notable misstep of an otherwise flawless season - sliding off the racing line on the wet part of the track and spinning wide.

"I don't know what to say," Button said of the 10th win of his career. "It was an immense battle. I'm just so emotional. I'm sure we'll have a great night tonight."