Button barges to hattrick in Monaco

MONTE CARLO: Jenson Button added further weight to his claim to this year's drivers' world championship when he drove to a consummate victory for Brawn GP in the Monaco Grand Prix on Sunday.

The 29-year-old delivered a flawless performance as he and 37-year-old Brazilian team-mate Rubens Barrichello came home one and two for the second race in succession and third time this year.

But despite all the evidence, he continued to give short shrift to suggestions that he is now the favourite for the title.

"I am not changing anything, we are just taking it all one thing at a time," he said. "I'm not talking about the world title.

"People say it is mine to lose, but I am not thinking or talking like that. There is a long way to go and I don't want to go there now."

Starting from his fourth pole position of this fairy-tale season and the seventh of his career, Button pulled clear at the start and, apart from brief interruptions due to pit-stops, led all the way with a supreme performance of mature and well-judged racing.

"Yeah, we got Monaco baby!" he screamed on his car-to-pits radio after becoming the first man since German great Michael Schumacher in 2006 to complete a hat-trick of consecutive Grand Prix wins.

His win lifted him to 51 points in the drivers' standings after six of the 17 races in this year's championship, giving him a 16-point lead over Barrichello and increasing the Brawn team's advantage at the top of the constructors' standings to more than 40 points.

It was Button's first win in Monaco and such was his surprise that he parked his car in the wrong place at the end of the 78-lap race and then had to run down the pit straight to arrive late, with the aid of a lift from a course car, at the prize-giving ceremony.

"I thought the race was tough, but it was only when I had to make that sprint with my helmet on that I realised how long the pit straight is!" said Button.

"Before the weekend, I said that this race means nothing different to me - but that was just to stop putting pressure on myself and so to win here is just fantastic.

"As a kid, I grew up watching this race on television and it is something special. It is just such a great event. It's so different to anything else and it is great to come away with a win.

"That's why I screamed 'We got Monaco baby!' to my engineers. A one-two here is exceptional for the Brawn team, for a new team. It is just staggering what we have done this year and this is a great moment."

The Ferrari duo of Finn Kimi Raikkonen and Brazilian Felipe Massa maintained the Italian team's improvement following their appalling start to the year by coming home third and fourth.

Australian Mark Webber finished fifth for Red Bull after his team-mate German Sebastian Vettel, 21, for once betrayed his relative inexperience by crashing, and German-born Finn Nico Rosberg, son of former champion Keke, was sixth for Williams.

Two-time champion Spaniard Fernando Alonso also drove a measured race to finish seventh for Renault ahead of Frenchman Sebastien Bourdais, who gave his countrymen something to celebrate by bringing his Toro Rosso car home for a point in eighth place.

Defending world champion Briton Lewis Hamilton, who started from last on the grid, endured another torrid afternoon and finished 13th while his McLaren Mercedes team-mate Finn Heikki Kovalainen completed a disappointing weekend for them by crashing while running seventh.

Brawn GP team boss Ross Brawn said: "It's a special race and a challenging weekend and in those circumstances, first and second is just stunning."

At the start, Barrichello made an excellent getaway and took advantage of Raikkonen's surge in pursuit of a pass on pole-sitter Button.

The Brazilian, third on the grid, followed his Brawn team-mate through Ste Devote and having secured first and second position they didn't look back.