JENSON Button yesterday admitted he’d been at the mind games in the run-up to his famous victory at the Monaco Grand Prix.
Button joined a posse of greats when he grabbed his fifth win in six races on the glamour-paved street circuit and admitted he’d deliberately played down the importance of victory there.
The Englishman said: “Before the weekend I said winning here would not mean as much but that was just to take the pressure off my shoulders.
“In fact, to win here is fantastic. It does mean so much. It’s massive for us.
“I got off the line clean and it was all good from there other than the usual Monaco things such as traffic and the barriers getting nearer and nearer as the race dragged on.
“It’s a strange feeling because you start backing off a little bit and it started going through my mind that if I kept it together I’d win at Monaco.
“But that’s dangerous so I had to concentrate, keep a steady pace and ended up enjoying a great day. It’s been an outstanding weekend. The team have been fabulous and we’re looking very strong over the next few races.”
The only other drivers to scoop five wins from six races are: Alberto Ascari (1952), Juan Manuel Fangio (1954), Jim Clark (1965), Sir Jackie Stewart (1969), Nigel Mansell (1992) and Michael Schumacher (1994, 2002 and 2004).
Button signed up to another exclusive club, joining Stirling Moss, Graham Hill, Stewart, David Coulthard and Lewis Hamilton as the only Brits to win at Monaco in 60 years of the world championship.
Button, a resident of the millionaire’s paradise, spearheaded a third Brawn GP onetwo of the season, stretching his lead over team-mate Rubens Barrichello to 16 points, with Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen back on the podium for the first time since last year’s Brazilian Grand Prix.
Barrichello said: “I got a great start, had a run on Kimi and then had good pace behind Jenson but was possibly too close.
“Losing the aerodynamics I was graining the rear tyres and from doing 16s (one minute, 16 second laps), I was doing 20s.
“That really defined the race, although I guess qualifying did that because Jenson had great momentum going into this race.”
Raikkonen, hailing the job his team have done since a woeful start to the year, said: “We’ve still work to do to be where we want to be, to fight for the victory.
“But we have to be happy because we’ve improved the car greatly since the start of the season. We should have a new package for the next race and that should help.”
It was as routine as they get, with Button making it look easy in a car that has won in a park, in the wet, the dry and now on the streets as the Brawn has so far supremely adapted to every type of condition.
Once he was away cleanly from the start, what followed was a drive of sheer class and perfection, underpinned by the car beneath him.
Hamilton had predicted that without any incidents Button would enjoy a nice Sunday drive and that was precisely the case.
It was a mistake-free afternoon, well, up till he took the chequered flag. After his victory lap he parked his car back in the pits rather than in the top three finishing zone.
That forced him into a run out of the pits, around La Rascasse and up the start/finish straight to take his place on the podium.
Behind the runaway Briton, Barrichello’s second place arrived via a superb start when he beat Raikkonen off the line. From that moment the result was a foregone conclusion barring catastrophe.
The Brazilian did enjoy one of the race’s more dramatic moments early on as he attempted a pass on a surprisingly slow Sebastian Vettel coming out of the tunnel on the run down to the chicane.
With the Red Bull the lightest car on fuel, Massa hounded Vettel, only to brake too late and force him on to the run-off.
Obliged to slow down and allow Vettel to retake position, Massa was too slow back on the throttle and lost his fifth place at the time to Williams’ Nico Rosberg.
Vettel’s race did not last much longer as he slid into a barrier out of Sainte Devote, with the typically efficient Monaco marshals avoiding the need for a safety car by craning the Red Bull off the track.
As for world champion Hamilton. After starting 19th he did all he could to finish 12th on a bleak day for his team when they had come into it hoping for so much.
Results 1 – Jenson Button (Gbr) Brawn GP (1:40:44.282); 2 – Rubens Barrichello (Bra) Brawn GP (1:40:51.948); 3 – Kimi Raikkonen (Fin) Ferrari (1:40:57.724); 4 – Felipe Massa (Bra) Ferrari (1:40:59.392); 5 – Mark Webber (Aus) Red Bull (1:41:00.012); 6 – Nico Rosberg (Ger) Williams (1:41:17.868); 7 – Fernando Alonso (Spa) Renault (1:41:22.121); 8 – Sebastien Bourdais (Fra) Scuderia Toro Rosso 1:41:47.424; 9 Giancarlo Fisichella (Ita) Force India (1:41:49.322); 10 Timo Glock (Ger) Toyota at 1 lap.
Drivers: 1 – Jenson Button (Gbr)
Brawn GP 51pts; 2 – Rubens Barrichello (Bra) Brawn GP 35; 3 – Sebastian Vettel (Ger) Red Bull 23; 4 – Mark Webber (Aus) Red Bull 19.5; 5 – Jarno Trulli (Ita) Toyota 14.5; 6 – Timo Glock (Ger) Toyota 12; 7 – Fernando Alonso (Spa) Renault 11; 8 – Kimi Raikkonen (Fin) Ferrari; 9 – Lewis Hamilton (Gbr) McLaren 9; 10 – Felipe Massa (Bra) Ferrari 8. Teams: 1 Brawn 86pts; 2 Red Bull 42.5; 3 Toyota 26.5; 4 Ferrari 17.