The latest Formula One regulations place a premium on track time and Lucky Strike BAR Honda was desperately short of that going into the openig qualifying session of this weekend's Australian Grand Prix. Drivers Jacques Vileneuve and Jenson Button...
The latest Formula One regulations place a premium on track time and Lucky Strike BAR Honda was desperately short of that going into the openig qualifying session of this weekend's Australian Grand Prix. Drivers Jacques Vileneuve and Jenson Button managed only a handful of laps between them because of engine related problems during this morning's free practice, but they put that setback behind them with a searing turn of qualifying speed.
Villeneuve led the way with a sparkling run to third place, behind Rubens Barrichello (Ferrari) and Kimi Raikkonen (McLaren). It was a flawless, feisty lap -- brimming with the kind of flair that carried the Canadian to the 1997 world title. And team mate Jenson Button fulfilled his anticipated promise with a strong run to fifth place, just 0.3s shy of his team mate.
"It was a bit of a surprise to be third, given that I was unable to do any set-up work this morning. I know the track, of course, but I didn't have any real braking reference points because I was using the spare chassis after this morning's engine problem. It is a long time since I was this far up a qualifying session. Things will be harder tomorrow, of course, with drivers running different fuel levels but the guys have done an absolutely fantastic job today."
"If we could match this performance tomorrow it would be brilliant. My chassis felt very good, apart from a little understeer at the last corner, but given that this was the first time I have run the car in low fuel trim I was very happy."
David Richards, team principal:
"This was just the start to the season we needed. Everyone rallied around to get the cars ready for qualifying and the drivers did a superb job, especially when you onsider how little preparation time they had."