Monaco GP: Honda Thursday qualifying notes

HONDA THIRD FASTEST IN MONACO Button and Villeneuve set third and 12th fastest times in First Qualifying Lucky Strike B*A*R Honda's Jenson Button and Jacques Villeneuve finished third and 12th fastest in today's first qualifying session for ...

HONDA THIRD FASTEST IN MONACO
Button and Villeneuve set third and 12th fastest times in First Qualifying

Lucky Strike B*A*R Honda's Jenson Button and Jacques Villeneuve finished third and 12th fastest in today's first qualifying session for the Monaco Grand Prix.

The weekend got off to a strong start for the Honda-powered drivers. With less than half a minute to go in this morning's free practice session it looked as though Jenson Button had set the fastest time of 1m16.476s, but Jaguar's Mark Webber managed to steal the top spot from the Briton in the closing seconds, moving Button down one place to second position. Jacques Villenueve completed 25 laps, setting a best time of 1m17.710s and finishing 12th.

Glorious weather conditions (29 degrees) continued in the principality as the drivers took to the track for the first qualifying session of the weekend. McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen went out first this afternoon due to his two point lead in the drivers' championship. Button was out on track 10th in the running order, 23 minutes into the session. The B*A*R Honda driver lost a bit of time in the final sector but still managed to set the third quickest time of 1m16.895s.

The session was stopped for 30 minutes to clear the oil from Heinz-Harald Frentzen's Sauber, which stopped on the circuit at turn two. The session restarted just before 3pm and a few minutes later Villeneuve was out on track to complete his one flying lap, the track temperature having dropped nine degrees to 30.

The Canadian struggled to find grip due to poor track conditions caused by the oil discharged from Heinz-Harald Frentzen's engine, and set an 11th fastest time of 1m18.109s. Button and Villeneuve were finally placed third and 12th after all the qualifying runs were completed. For final qualifying Villeneuve and Button will be out on track in ninth and 18th position respectively, as today's times dictate the running order for Final qualifying on Saturday.

Ferrari's Michael Schumacher set a fastest lap of 1m16.305s around the 3.340km/2.075miles street circuit, followed by team-mate Rubens Barrichello and B*A*R Honda's Jenson Button. Jarno Trulli (Renault) and David Coulthard (McLaren) finished fourth and fifth while Ralf Schumacher (Williams) completes the top six.

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."

Jenson Button Position: 3rd

"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."

Jacques Villeneuve Position: 12th

"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."

-honda-

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Jarno Trulli , Jenson Button , Michael Schumacher , Heinz-Harald Frentzen , Mark Webber , David Coulthard , Jacques Villeneuve , Kimi Raikkonen , Shuhei Nakamoto
Teams Ferrari , Sauber , McLaren , Williams