Button Wins Monaco Grand Prix as Brawn Rules F1

Christian Hollmann/DPA

Monte Carlo, May 24: Jenson Button won the prestigious Monaco Grand Prix Sunday as Brawn GP remained in full command of Formula One racing with a third one-two of the season.

Button claimed his fifth season win in six races from the pole position while Rubens Barrichello finished second. Barrichello moved past Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen at the start to settle an uneventful race in the principality.

Raikkonen managed to finish third for Ferrari's first podium and team-mate Felipe Massa came fourth. It was the best result for Ferrari, who are threatening to quit F1 over a budget cap row, as they finally came alive in a difficult season.

"It is a very special moment to win here in Monaco," said Button, who sprinted to the royal box to get the trophy from Prince Albert II after completing the race in almost pedestrian pace.

"This victory is massive for us at this part of the season," he said.

Button and Barrichello dominated the opening race in Australia and the Spanish GP two weeks ago. Their latest one-two, coupled with nearest title rival Sebastian Vettel crashing out, only further increased their dominance.

Button has 51 points from six of 17 races, Barrichello 35 while Red Bull's Vettel remained on 23.

Vettel insisted that "there are still enough races and points left" and Brawn team principle Ross Brawn said his side is still taking it one race at a time.

However, Brawn also said that "if we can reproduce this (in the next races) we stand a great chance."

With overtaking almost impossible on the narrow and twisting 3.340-km street course the start was a key to the final outcome.

Button handily won the start from his fourth season pole and Barrichello stormed past Raikkonen in the first metres to put Brawn in command.

Behind them, Vettel experienced graining tyres and after a pit stop went out in the 16th lap as he drifted out in the Saint Devote turn and damaged the Red Bull beyond repair on a concrete wall.

"The tyres were worn out and we made the pit stop a little earlier ... I was then on the brakes a little late and crashed into the wall," said Vettel.

The pecking order never changed and Button took the chequered flag for his sixth career win after 78 laps in 1 hour 40 minutes 44.282 seconds after having a hard time to concentrate on racing in the end.

"It is very strange. You start backing off and thinking. So much is going through your mind. But the last two laps were very enjoyable," he said.

Barrichello had graining soft tyres early on and a seat belt problem on the second stint, but agreed that his move past Raikkonen at the start "defined the race" and worth the risky choice of soft tyres.

Brawn agreed: "We managed to keep it together. The start is important ... It was a close call."

Raikkonen was not quite sure whether to laugh or cry.

"I am disappointed but in our situation we need to be happy as well after a difficult start into the season. We still have work to do to fight for first place," the Finn said.

Behind the Brawns and Ferraris, Mark Webber was fifth in a Red Bull, Nico Rosberg sixth in a Williams, ex-champion Fernando Alonso seventh for Renault and Sebastien Bourdais eighth in a Toro Rosso.

World champion Lewis Hamilton, who won last year's race on the French Riviera, had to start from last place on the grid after poor qualifying and a gearbox change, and had to settle for 12th place.

Like in Spain two weeks ago, he was lapped by the fellow-Briton Button. McLaren-Mercedes' latest agony was complete when Heikki Kovalainen crashed out in the 51st lap.

The next race is the Turkish Grand Prix June 7 in Istanbul.


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