European GP: Honda Saturday qualifying notes

FRONT ROW START FOR HONDA'S 40TH ANNIVERSARY RACE B.A.R Honda's Sato and Button qualify second and fifth for European GP Lucky Strike B.A.R Honda's Takuma Sato made history at the Nürburgring today when he qualified his B.A.R Honda 006 on the...

FRONT ROW START FOR HONDA'S 40TH ANNIVERSARY RACE
B.A.R Honda's Sato and Button qualify second and fifth for European GP

Lucky Strike B.A.R Honda's Takuma Sato made history at the Nürburgring today when he qualified his B.A.R Honda 006 on the front row of the grid to start tomorrow's European Grand Prix from second place. British team-mate Jenson Button qualified fifth and will start the race from the third row.

Honda-powered Sato was absolutely stunning in pre-qualifying this afternoon, taking P1 by over half a second with a time of 1m27.691s and becoming the last of the Honda-powered trio to set a lap record at the German circuit this weekend. The B.A.R Honda driver was therefore the last man on track in final qualifying and he didn't fail to impress, clocking a superb 1m28.986s and planting his B.A.R Honda 006 on the front row.

Sato's front row qualifying performance today is the best-ever for a Japanese driver in F1 and a career best for the Japanese star since his third place start at this year's Spanish Grand Prix. Sato's achievement is particularly timely as this weekend marks the 40th anniversary of Honda's first F1 race.

Having finished fifth fastest in pre-qualifying, Button was out on track 16th for his final run. The Briton suffered from low grip and set a time of 1m29.245s, qualifying his B.A.R Honda 006 fifth on the grid, to start the race from the third row.

In both free practice sessions this morning, Button and Sato launched their B.A.R Honda 006s into the top three, clocking the first and third fastest times respectively, sandwiching the Williams of Ralf Schumacher in the first session and his brother Michael's Ferrari in the second session. The British driver's best time this morning of 1m28.827 was, at that time, another lap record around the 5.148 km/3.217 mile circuit.

Weather conditions remained sunny but still relatively cool as Ferrari's Michael Schumacher took pole position for tomorrow's European Grand Prix. B.A.R Honda's Takuma Sato will line up alongside the German on the front row followed by Renault's Jarno Trulli and McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen. Jenson Button (B.A.R Honda) and Renault's Fernando Alonso qualified in fifth and sixth place while Rubens Barrichello (Ferrari) and Juan Pablo Montoya (Williams) will start the race from seventh and eighth position respectively.

Takuma Sato Position: 2nd

"Qualifying on the front row of the grid is a fantastic result. I'm so excited! Qualifying third in Spain was a great moment but I just wanted to keep improving from there and this is the next step. I'm thrilled with my lap because it felt very clean. The track has been changing a lot but for me the conditions were similar to my pre-qualifying run so I knew that I had a good lap in my grasp. Michael's lap was stunning but I didn't let it affect me. I just got on with the job and everything went well. Today's result is special in many ways and as everyone is pointing out, this is the first time I've qualified on the front row of the grid and that is fantastic for me. I really hope I can turn this into a strong podium finish in the race but I will focus on enjoying today for now."

Jenson Button Position: 5th

"I'm very disappointed with my lap because we could have done much better today. I came into the weekend expecting to make the front row but lack of grip has been a big problem and that was the case in qualifying. The track conditions have been quite changeable so we'll have to wait and see what tomorrow holds, but we have a good car and I'll be doing what I can to make the most of the overtaking opportunities."

Shuhei Nakamoto - Engineering Director, Honda Racing Development

"Good stuff! Both guys up towards the front will give us a chance to fight for the podium again tomorrow. Congratulations to Takuma for his first front row start."

-honda-

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Juan Pablo Montoya
Teams Ferrari , McLaren , Williams