Lucky Strike B*A*R Honda boosted their 2003 Championship account by five points today after Jenson Button took the chequered flag in fourth place at the end of a quite enthralling Austrian Grand Prix. Jenson drove a perfect race in which he never...
Lucky Strike B*A*R Honda boosted their 2003 Championship account by five points today after Jenson Button took the chequered flag in fourth place at the end of a quite enthralling Austrian Grand Prix. Jenson drove a perfect race in which he never put a foot wrong and some excellent work in the pits even had him sandwiching the two Ferraris at one stage. His result is the team's best points-finish of the season and he was especially pleased to have matched his best career result.
A problematic race for Jacques Villeneuve made it a bitter-sweet result for the team however. The electronics on his steering wheel failed on the first lap and he drove the first two stints of his race with no control over the electronic systems.
"I had a great race; I really enjoyed it. I matched my best race finish today so it's great to be back up there getting the points again. The team did a superb job in the pitstops to get me out ahead of the Ferrari and everything just went well for me. I had a bit of oversteer because we ran new tyres on the rear, but it was nothing I couldn't handle. This is just what the team needed - and deserved. We earned our result today; it wasn't just a fluke."
"I've had a great weekend all round really. I think we've shown how quick we are all the way through practice and qualifying, and today's was a genuine race performance. It was nice to be able to challenge the front-runners, which is what we are capable of doing. We have to maintain the momentum now and I'll be doing three days' testing in Valencia next week in preparation for Monaco to make sure that happens."
"We had a problem all the way through the race because the electronics on the steering stopped working on the first lap. I had no limiter button, no idea of which gear I was in, no neutral -- no nothing. I had to do it all manually. My race engineer was even counting my speed down for me coming into the pits! Then the electronics problem caused a stall at the second pitstop."
"We had decided not to change the steering wheel at the first stop because it can mess up the electronics, but after the car stalled we changed it then had to wait for the system to reset. It was a fairly disastrous stop and I lost a lot of time. When you lose a lap because of mechanical problems there isn't much you can do."
"I've had problems in four races out of six now and it's obviously very frustrating. It's a great shame because it will be difficult for us to get a car that's better than this in race trim. It felt really great. We keep getting a very good set-up for the race but I haven't been able to make the most of it. I'll just have to continue working hard and hopefully things will come good for me soon."
David Richards, Team Principal:
"A great race from Jenson and a result gained through performance rather than attrition, as both drivers challenged the leading group throughout the race. I'm sure that this will act as a strong morale- booster at a point where the season really starts to get underway. The problem that Jacques experienced was very frustrating and one has to wonder when his luck will turn. Given the overall performance of the team this weekend, I am very confident that this is just around the corner."
Geoffrey Willis, Technical Director:
"This was an excellent drive from both drivers. Jenson achieved a well-deserved fourth place but Jacques was denied an equally strong or stronger finish by technical problems. We had qualified both cars on the same fuel and, despite Jacques' mistakes in qualifying, we felt we were going to be very competitive today."
"Unfortunately, Jacques' steering wheel electronics failed very early on, leaving him with no information display or pitlane speed limiter. At the second stop, the car stalled as it shifted into second gear. Honda and ourselves must now work to improve engine mapping and drivability in this area, and review our anti-stall strategy."
"This result reflects our genuine level of performance, however we finish the weekend happy but frustrated. We deserved more points here. We are testing new parts and engine developments next week and we continue to work hard on our reliability."
Shuhei Nakamoto, Engineering Director, Honda Racing Development:
"Today's race was half pleasure, half pain for us. A great result for Jenson who fought so hard this afternoon and I'm really happy to score some more points. Jacques was also having a good race until the problem in his second pit stop so it was a tough day for him as he had a points finish in sight. Our engines ran well all weekend and we will continue to upgrade the performance to keep this momentum going."
B*A*R will be testing in Valencia next week (20-23 May) in preparation for the Monaco and Canadian Grands Prix. The team's full driver line-up will be in action during this two-car test.
Chassis: BAR Honda 005-4
Best lap time: 1:09.828
Chassis: BAR Honda 005-5
Best lap time: 1:09.764