Spanish GP: Honda Saturday qualifying notes

SECOND ROW SLOT FOR HONDA-POWERED SATO IN SPAIN Sato and Button qualify third and 14th in Barcelona Honda-powered Takuma Sato had a terrific day at the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona, just missing out on a front row start for...

SECOND ROW SLOT FOR HONDA-POWERED SATO IN SPAIN
Sato and Button qualify third and 14th in Barcelona

Honda-powered Takuma Sato had a terrific day at the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona, just missing out on a front row start for tomorrow's Spanish Grand Prix, qualifying his B.A.R Honda 006 third on the grid, to start the race from the second row. Team-mate Jenson Button finished the day on row seven in 14th place.

Both Honda-powered drivers shone during morning free practice. Button topped the time sheets in the first session, and Sato stole the show with an exceptional lap of 1m14.836s just five minutes from the end of the second session, demoting Ferrari's Michael Schumacher to P2.

B.A.R Honda's Button and Sato found they had less grip in the afternoon in comparison to this morning, as is often the case during testing at the Spanish circuit. Button, who took to the dusty track just over 20 minutes into the session, was caught by a gust of wind and ran wide through turn seven, recording a time of 1m17.575s and qualifying his B.A.R Honda 006 14th.

A few minutes later the wind speed had dropped a bit as all eyes were on Sato. The Japanese driver remained calm and clocked a strong 1m15.809s, which looked like it was going to be enough to secure a first row slot until, in the closing minutes, he was demoted to third by Juan Pablo Montoya (Williams). Third on the grid is not only a personal best for Sato but is also a best-ever qualifying performance for a Japanese driver in F1.

Ferrari's Michael Schumacher will start tomorrow's Spanish Grand Prix, his 200th race, from pole position with the Williams of Juan Pablo Montoya alongside him. B.A.R Honda's Takuma Sato and Renault's Jarno Trulli will line up in third and fourth place on the second row while Rubens Barrichello (Ferrari), Ralf Schumacher (Williams), Toyota's Olivier Panis and Renault's Fernando Alonso qualified in fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth place respectively.

Shuhei Nakamoto - Engineering Director, Honda Racing Development:

"Taku has done a good job to get third place today. We have a competitive car here and I am sure we can fight for the podium again this Sunday."

Takuma Sato Position: 3rd

"It's fantastic to be starting the race from 3rd on the grid - my best ever starting position in a Formula One race. It means a huge amount to me, to Honda and all the people who support the team. I didn't get a very good start to my weekend yesterday but I had a very successful free practice this morning and I felt really comfortable with the car, so I knew we could be strong in qualifying. This is not an easy circuit; the track conditions are constantly changing and the wind was picking up during the final run. I knew I just had to concentrate every step of the way around the track and I'm pleased with the end result. It wasn't a perfect lap; the first sector was good then the car was a little twitchy in the second sector and I probably lost a little time in the last sector as a result. This is a track I know well though and I just want to do the best job I can tomorrow. We have a strong and well-balanced car and a great opportunity to be on the podium. It won't be easy though but I'll certainly be trying my best."

Jenson Button Position: 14th

"My lap was very disappointing. It was going quite well early in the weekend, although I have been struggling a little bit with the set-up around here. The conditions have changed a lot since pre-qualifying as there's a lot more wind now, which is one of the reasons why I ended up having an excursion. The first sector was OK and I had lots of grip but then I got some understeer, went wide coming around turn 7, went onto the grass and had to lift off in the end, which was disappointing as it has put me down to 14th. Sometimes these things happen though. It's great for Taku, but for me it's not so good starting further down the grid. We'll have to think overnight on strategy options for tomorrow and see if we can recover some ground."

-honda-

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Takuma Sato , Jenson Button , Ralf Schumacher , Michael Schumacher , Rubens Barrichello , Olivier Panis , Fernando Alonso , Shuhei Nakamoto
Teams Ferrari , Williams