The Honda Racing F1 Team scored its first World Championship points of the season in today's Spanish Grand Prix, when Jenson Button finished in sixth position. A tenacious drive from the Briton, plus some astute strategy calls from the team's pitwall, saw him climb through the field from 13th position on the grid.
Jenson drove a 29-lap middle stint, which was longer than any other driver, which helped him to climb up the order from 13th to fifth. He dropped just one position during his second and final pitstop on lap 54, and he crossed the line in sixth place to secure three Championship points for the team.
After a strong start from 11th on the grid, team-mate Rubens Barrichello's race ended with disappointment. The Brazilian ran as high as sixth in the early stages, before retiring with extensive bodywork damage resulting from a pit lane collision with Giancarlo Fisichella on lap 25.
Q. Congratulations on securing your first points of the season. How was your race?
A. "It was a good race for us today and I'm really pleased to finish in 6th with three points. Unfortunately the safety car came out at the wrong time for us, although I am pleased to hear that Heikki is okay. I was on a long first stint so it was bad timing and definitely cost me some places. The car was working well with the balance improving lap by lap, particularly on the last stint with harder tyres where I felt very comfortable. The team are doing a really good job and we are benefitting from Ross' technical management."
Q. What can you now expect from the Turkish Grand Prix in two weeks' time?
A. "I got a really good feel for the new aero package during the race today and it is definitely an improvement. The good thing is that what we are seeing from the car reflects the information from the wind tunnel. This circuit is not the best for our car as it's a bumpy circuit here and we seem to lack some driveability over the bumps. When we get to the next race in Turkey, I expect the car to perform better than here."
Q. A disappointing end to what could have been a strong race for you today?
A. "The car was performing well today so it was especially disappointing that the incident in the pitlane with Fisichella brought my race to an end. From what we can see, it was just one of those unfortunate incidents. The team released me and advised me of traffic, so I stayed out of the fast lane. Fisichella overtook me and cut into his box clipping my front wing at the same time. I managed to get round the lap with the wing caught under the front of the car but unfortunately the damage caused to the bodywork was too great to continue and I was forced to retire. It's a shame as I could have scored some good points today."
Q. Taking the weekend as a whole, how do you feel about the improvements made to the RA108?
A. "We have certainly made a step forward in performance this weekend. The new aero package has performed well and although it took some tuning this week to ensure that we achieved the optimum set-up, the car was well balanced and performing well in the race. There is still a long way to go but it is encouraging to know that we are improving step by step. I look forward to the next few races and hope that we can continue to make progress."
ROSS BRAWN, Team Principal
Q. Honda's first points of the season. You must be delighted?
A. "The whole team is delighted to score some points as we embark on the European season and it is just reward after the tremendous efforts made by everyone. We have made a good step forward with the new upgrade package and today's result reflects all the hard work that the team have put into developing the car since the start of the season. We are making good progress, which is encouraging for the rest of the season and for the future. I really feel that all elements of the team, chassis and engine are beginning to gel."
Q. What will Honda be doing to maintain the momentum?
A. "We have a number of smaller developments to introduce over the next few races, to tailor the package to the varying characteristics of the forthcoming circuits, and at the same time we will be working hard on the development of our next substantial upgrade for Silverstone."