FRUSTRATING END TO COMPETITIVE WEEKEND Villeneuve and Button finish ninth and tenth in Melbourne Lucky Strike B.A.R Honda's Jacques Villeneuve just missed out on a points finish as he crossed the line in ninth place at the season-opening ...
FRUSTRATING END TO COMPETITIVE WEEKEND
Villeneuve and Button finish ninth and tenth in Melbourne
Lucky Strike B.A.R Honda's Jacques Villeneuve just missed out on a points finish as he crossed the line in ninth place at the season-opening Australian Grand Prix, closely followed by team-mate Jenson Button who finished 10th.
Button and Villeneuve looked set to collect valuable championship points early on, having started from the third and fourth row of the grid and secured sixth and seventh positions respectively by the end of lap three. However, an unscheduled stop for the B.A.R Honda duo to change to dry tyres meant both drivers had to carry out three pit stops during the course of the 58 lap race.
Just over an hour before the race the FIA announced that due to a 'change of climatic conditions' teams were free to change or alter brake ducts, radiator exit ducts and tyres. Heavy rain during the morning and scattered showers forecast for the afternoon meant several teams, including B.A.R Honda, chose to start the race on intermediate tyres.
Although Villeneuve and Button were running in fourth and fifth place by lap 18, their second pit stop on lap 25 involved an unfortunate communication mix up and resulted in both drivers coming in at the same time. Button had to wait while Villeneuve took on fuel and the Honda-powered drivers rejoined the action at the back in 13th and 14th place.
Following their third and final pit stop on laps 39 and 41 Villeneuve and Button rejoined in 10th and 11th place. Both drivers moved up one spot four laps from the end as Giancarlo Fisichella (Jordan) pitted and went on to finish the race in ninth and 10th positions respectively.
McLaren's David Coulthard took the chequered flag and was joined on the podium by Juan Pablo Montoya (Williams) and Kimi Raikkonen (McLaren). Fourth and fifth place were taken by Ferrari's Michael Schumacher and Renault's Jarno Trulli while Heinz-Harald Frentzen (Sauber) finished sixth. The new points scoring system rewards drivers down to eighth place and the beneficiaries were Fernando Alonso (Renault) and Ralf Schumacher (Williams).
Shuhei Nakamoto -- Engineering Director, Honda Racing Development:
"Being so close to a points finish is really frustrating. Both Jacques and Jenson had to pit early on to change to dry tyres and ended up pitting three times, which meant we just lost out on points. But all in all I think we've shown that we have a fast car over the weekend so I'm encouraged for the rest of the season."
Jacques Villeneuve Position: 9th
"I had radio problems so it was very difficult to communicate with the pit wall and both cars ended up pitting at the same time. We went with what we knew about the tyres and decided to two stop, because we didn't expect the slicks to get to the halfway point. It took a long time to get the tyres working and I didn't get enough time on any set because we started on wets. Our strategy would have been good without the safety cars but things definitely didn't work out for us today."
Jenson Button: Position: 10th
"It was very frustrating that we made the wrong tyre choice at the start and for my team-mate to come in on the wrong lap was disappointing and quite embarrassing really. The car worked very well in the practice sessions and qualifying so it was very disappointing to finish where we did today because we were very quick in the race."