Jenson Button was the first of the Honda Racing F1 Team's drivers home in this afternoon's Italian Grand Prix, when he finished the 53-lap race in 15th position. His team-mate Rubens Barrichello finished in 17th place. The team made substantial...
Jenson Button was the first of the Honda Racing F1 Team's drivers home in this afternoon's Italian Grand Prix, when he finished the 53-lap race in 15th position. His team-mate Rubens Barrichello finished in 17th place.
The team made substantial changes to the set-up of Jenson's car overnight, therefore he started the race from the pitlane rather than his 19th place grid slot, while Rubens also made small adjustments to his set-up. Wet conditions resulted in the race starting behind the Safety Car and both Rubens and Jenson immediately gained a position when Bourdais failed to leave the grid, so they were in 15th and 18th places when the race went green at the start of lap three.
Rubens was the first driver to pit, on lap 16, and switched from the extreme wets to the wet tyres. He rejoined the race in 18th place, ahead of what was one of the longest middle stints of any driver. Jenson then made his first stop on lap 22 and also switched to the wet tyre, emerging 10s behind his team-mate.
Both Rubens and Jenson then drove strong middle stints on a drying track and progressed up to ninth and 11th positions respectively by the time of their final pitstops. For Rubens, the team elected to put on dry tyres in the hope of stealing a march on his rivals in the closing stages. Unfortunately, the track wasn't quite dry enough and he slipped back through the order.
Jenson kept his wet tyres at his second stop which was the correct decision and he recorded very competitive lap times until the finish.
Q. An interesting race in terms of strategy but you were not able to make much progress today?
A. "We decided to start the race from the pit lane today as it may have given us an advantage with tyre choice, however when the race started behind the safety car it just meant that my tyres and brakes were very cold. The first couple of laps were quite difficult with the amount of spray and I lost a place which was disappointing. Then I got stuck behind Coulthard in the middle of the race when my lap times were good, which compromised my race quite badly. The last stint was a lot of fun though as we left the very worn wet tyres on and I had a couple of purple middle sectors. But at the end of the day it was disappointing to come home in 15th position and we have not had a good weekend here."
Q. You ran all three types of tyre in the race today. How were the conditions?
A. "We made the decision on lap 16 to pit for the wet tyres as I felt the track was starting to dry out and it could give us an advantage. Although it was a positive decision as our lap times came down from there and I was gaining time on the cars ahead of me, it did interrupt our planned one-stop strategy. The wet tyres worked well in the middle stint but when I came up to my second stop with ten laps to go, the team asked if it was dry enough for slicks. It was not quite dry enough however they asked me to give it a go as we had nothing to lose. I tried my best but it was definitely too wet. We could have finished higher up by sticking to the wets but it was worth trying something different. It's been a tough weekend all round."
ROSS BRAWN, Team Principal
Q. Summarise your approach to what was a tricky race today?
A. "From where we started the race and in view of the lack of attrition today, it was necessary for us to take some chances. We switched from the extreme wet tyres to the normal wets earlier than everyone else and I believe that was a reasonable call. Later in the race, at Rubens' second pitstop, we knew it wasn't really the right window for dry tyres but we thought it might be worth a chance. Jenson had a good race and we made the right tyre calls at the right time. He was looking pretty quick at the end but obviously starting as far back as he did, he didn't have much opportunity for points today. On a positive note the car looked a little more respectable in the race than it has through the weekend. Finally, congratulations to the Toro Rosso team on their win today. I have a lot of very good friends there and they did a fantastic job this weekend."
Q. What will you be doing now to prepare for the final long haul races?
A. "There will be very few technical changes to the cars but the downforce levels will be quite different. Singapore is a high downforce track and there will be a range of downforce levels for the remaining tracks thereafter. We are testing in Jerez next week for four days but the focus there will be on projects for the 2009 car and in particular the KERS system."