Two very strong performances in tricky conditions today saw the Honda Racing F1 Team's Rubens Barrichello and Jenson Button achieve the team's best combined qualifying result of the year. They ended the session third and fourth - with exactly the...
Two very strong performances in tricky conditions today saw the Honda Racing F1 Team's Rubens Barrichello and Jenson Button achieve the team's best combined qualifying result of the year. They ended the session third and fourth - with exactly the same lap time - and will line up side by side on the second row of the grid for the start of tomorrow's 56-lap race.
Conditions were changeable during this morning's final free practice, so all of the drivers reserved their running for late in the session when the track was improving. Jenson was third fastest whilst Rubens struggled to get heat into the tyres and spun, but fortunately he collected the car and finished 16th overall.
This afternoon, the qualifying hour was officially declared wet and the session gave rise to several casualties as the drivers battled hard against standing water and poor visibility in order to secure competitive times. Despite another hair-raising spin for Rubens along the way, both drivers gained the measure of the track and were running as high as P1 and P2 midway through the session.
Jenson was forced to pit for a new nosecone after hitting a wing mirror which had fallen from Raikkonen's car and onto the racing line. However, once he rejoined the track he was immediately back on the pace demonstrating the competitiveness of the RA106 in the wet. The forecast for tomorrow is for changeable conditions.
"I'm thrilled to be back in the top three qualifiers again, especially after such a difficult session. This is a great result for the team with Jenson and I in third and fourth and setting exactly the same lap time. It was pretty treacherous out there and at times it was just impossible to push. When I did I spun off and thankfully the gravel slowed me just enough for me to land on the grass. I was able to keep the engine running so I could keep going."
"Aside from that moment we're looking pretty competitive in the wet and in the past the race has come my way many times in similar conditions. If that's the way the weather plays out I'll be happy but we have a car that works well either way."
"I'm very happy with today's result, especially with Rubens and I posting exactly the same time. It's been a very interesting day in which the Michelins are clearly very strong in the tricky conditions. It's pretty slippery out there which made it tough going, but we're looking good I think and I have a good strategy so we should be able to look forward to a great race, especially for the fans."
Gil de Ferran, Sporting Director:
"I guess we can say that we are in a good position going into the race tomorrow! The weather conditions in qualifying made it very difficult to predict when the track was going to be at its best, therefore for both Q1 and Q2 we elected to run for most of the session. In the end, Jenson and Rubens got into the top ten quite comfortably."
"On the final shootout both drivers did a great job again to qualify on the second row with exactly the same time, the best qualifying performance of our team so far this year. It is also worth noting that Michelin produced a great wet tyre for Shanghai, which was clearly the class of the field this afternoon."
"We were competitive yesterday and again today, which bodes well for the race tomorrow. The weather is expected to be as uncertain for Sunday as it was today which always makes the race more unpredictable and therefore more exciting!"
Rubens Barrichello: 3rd
Jenson Button: 4th