Jenson Button's Grand Prix weekend got off to a flying start in Monaco today. After ending this morning's free practice in second position, the Lucky Strike B*A*R Honda driver went on to post the third fastest lap in this afternoon's session,...
Jenson Button's Grand Prix weekend got off to a flying start in Monaco today. After ending this morning's free practice in second position, the Lucky Strike B*A*R Honda driver went on to post the third fastest lap in this afternoon's session, whilst team-mate Jacques Villeneuve ended the day 12th.
Weather conditions remained hot and sunny throughout the qualifying session, for which Button and Villeneuve lined up 10th and 13th in line for their single-lap runs.
"I'm really quite happy with 3rd. This morning the circuit was very slippery because of the new tarmac, especially on the new entrance to Rascasse. I got used to it pretty quickly though and I like it a lot more than previously. In qualifying the first corner was a little bit oversteery because I was trying to keep the tyres cool. I also had a little bit of graining in the last corner so I lost a couple of tenths there."
"I went over the kerb really heavily in the second part of the swimming pool but it doesn't look like I suffered too much as a result, but the place where I lost quite a bit of time is in Rascasse where I had quite a lot of understeer. 3rd is a good basis for Saturday and at least we know we are competitive now. We can look at our strategy and know that we have more possibilities. It's good to see the car improving steadily with each new race. That's what you need to become a top team."
"I went out for my lap right after Frentzen's engine had blown and there was oil and a lot of cement dust on the track. You have to accept that if you are going to change your line to avoid it, you're going to end up going slower. The car is quite competitive but we are going to have to look at the work Jenson has been doing, because there is very little information to work with on my side since we changed to the T-car for qualifying."
David Richards, Team Principal:
"A superb performance from Jenson on a circuit that is so unforgiving and where pinpoint accuracy is absolutely essential. I'm encouraged that our combination of chassis and Honda engine is looking so competitive at a circuit that is so radically different from Austria, which suggests that we are now beginning to adapt to both extremes. It was unfortunate for Jacques that the marshals appeared somewhat over-zealous with the cement dust after Frentzen's engine failure, but I'm sure things will improve for him as the weekend progresses."
Geoffrey Willis, Technical Director:
"The team should feel very happy with its performance this afternoon. Despite the lack of Friday qualifying it is good to be able to demonstrate that we go into the weekend with a competitive package of chassis, engine and tyres. The circuit was very slippery this morning with both drivers complaining about a lack of grip, but we were able to improve steadily during free practice with the usual set-up work. We have brought new aerodynamic and engine developments here and we have been pleased with the performance of the car so far."
"Jenson drove a good lap this afternoon despite losing some time right at the end of the lap with understeer. Jacques chose to use the T-car for qualifying but unfortunately, like many, was compromised by the oil and dust put down on the track following Frentzen's engine blow-up. We now have to work on race set-up and review our strategy for this often eventful race."
Shuhei Nakamoto, Engineering Director, Honda Racing Development:
"I'm pleased with Jenson's performance today. We've been running well all day and have shown how competitive we are. Unfortunately due to some oil on the track Jacques couldn't make the best of his lap. There is still room to improve on the engine set up for both drivers so I'm confident we'll go well in final qualifying and the race."
Chassis: BAR Honda 005-04
Lap time: 1:16.895
Chassis: BAR Honda 005-2
Lap time: 1:18.109