Motor sport can be a fickle business. Lucky Strike B.A.R. Honda's pace was one of the paddock's main talking points during the first two days of the Australian Grand Prix, but an unpredictable set of circumstances denied Jacques Villeneuve and ...
Motor sport can be a fickle business. Lucky Strike B.A.R. Honda's pace was one of the paddock's main talking points during the first two days of the Australian Grand Prix, but an unpredictable set of circumstances denied Jacques Villeneuve and Jenson Button any chance of strong points finishes in the race.
Lining up sixth and eighth, Villeneuve and Button opted to start the race with wet tyres because persistent morning showers had soaked the Albert Park track. It was a close call, though, because the circuit was beginning to dry as the race began. Button made the better start to grab sixth place, just ahead of his team-mate, but in common with several rivals they were soon heading for the pits to change to dry rubber.
Although that dropped them down the order, both drivers remained in contention for strong finishes because the Safety car was sent out twice to slow the pace and allow officials to clear accident debris. When the race resumed in earnest Villeneuve and Button climbed in to the top five, although they were subsequently handicapped by a two-stop strategy that proved unsuitable for today's topsy-turvy race. Things were also compromised by a a communications mix-up that lead to both cars pitting at the same time on lap 25, an incident that delayed Button in particular.
Villeneuve - finished ninth, one place outside the points.
"I had radio problems and it was difficult to communicate with the pit wall, so Jenson and I ended up stopping at the same time. I think our two-stop strategy would have worked if it hadn't been for the Safety Car periods, but that's racing. Things just didn't work out for us today."
Button - finished in 10th.
"The car worked really well in practice and qualifying. It was a disappointing result because the car was very quick in race trim."
But from disappointment comes hope, as team principal David Richards explained.
"It has been a very encouraging event in terms of pace and reliability," he said. "Although we didn't get the results we hoped for, it has been a positive weekend because we know we have a competitive car and can look forward with confidence to a successful season."