San Marino GP: Honda Saturday qualifying notes

B*A*R HONDA DRIVER TAKES FOURTH ROW SLOT Villeneuve and Button qualify seventh and ninth at Imola Lucky Strike B*A*R Honda's Jacques Villeneuve qualified in seventh place for tomorrow's grid of the San Marino Grand Prix to start the race...

B*A*R HONDA DRIVER TAKES FOURTH ROW SLOT
Villeneuve and Button qualify seventh and ninth at Imola

Lucky Strike B*A*R Honda's Jacques Villeneuve qualified in seventh place for tomorrow's grid of the San Marino Grand Prix to start the race from the fourth row while team-mate Jenson Button will line up directly behind him in ninth position.

This morning saw cooler weather conditions (13 degrees) for the two 45 minute free practice sessions at Imola. Villeneuve and Button completed 73 trouble-free laps between them and finished ninth and 12th overall.

By the time the final qualifying session got underway at 2pm the air temperature had increased to 18 degrees but threatening clouds loomed overhead. In the opening minutes of the qualifying hour, Jos Verstappen spun his Minardi and hit the wall, bringing out the red flags for five minutes. Thankfully the Dutchman walked away uninjured, but he will have to start from the back of the grid.

Villeneuve and Button took to the track 14th and 15th in the running order, 40 minutes into the session, as the drivers go out in reverse of yesterday's times. The Canadian put in a strong lap and recorded a time of 1m23.160s, narrowly missing provisional pole and finally qualifying in seventh place after all the runs were completed. Immediately after his team-mate Button was on track for his one flying lap. The B*A*R Honda driver was quick in the first two sectors but made a mistake in the third, setting a time of 1m23.381s and ending up ninth for the start of tomorrow's race.

The clouds cleared and by the end of the session the track temperature had risen seven degrees to 28 as Michael Schumacher (Ferrari) snatched pole position from brother Ralf (Williams). Third and fourth spot were taken by the Ferrari of Rubens Barrichello and the Williams of Juan Pablo Montoya while Jaguar's Mark Webber and McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen will line up fifth and sixth on the grid.

Shuhei Nakamoto - Engineering Director, Honda Racing Development:

"This afternoon wasn't great and we were expecting to qualify higher than seventh and ninth. The engines have been performing well this weekend and we're still in a good position to continue the fight for points tomorrow."

Jacques Villeneuve Position: 7th

"I'm very happy with my lap because it's quicker than we had been expecting. We've been working all weekend towards race set-up so to get a good lap in qualy today is great. There was still a tenth to be had in the last corner but I think the signs are good for the race tomorrow. We've always qualified well here and been worse off in the race but it looks like things will be much better for us this year if it's dry. If it rains then it may be a different story because it will be hard to warm the tyres."

"It's very close at the top and this is one of the most difficult tracks to overtake on so the start will be interesting. It will be tough tomorrow but it looks like we will be there fighting for points so I'm looking forward to it."

Jenson Button Position: 9th

"We made good progress through free practice this morning and I was much more comfortable with the balance going into qualifying. The first two sectors of my qualifying lap were OK but then I went a bit wide in the high speed chicane up the hill caused and lost a bit of time. I also had a bit too much understeer in the high speed corners. I'm disappointed but I don't think we're looking too bad for tomorrow."

-honda-

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Jenson Button , Jos Verstappen , Michael Schumacher , Rubens Barrichello , Mark Webber , Jacques Villeneuve , Kimi Raikkonen , Shuhei Nakamoto
Teams Ferrari , McLaren , Williams , Minardi