A torrid race came to a disappointing conclusion for pole-sitter Jenson Button in Melbourne today. Four outings for the safety car in an action-packed Australian Grand Prix left Jenson struggling for grip as he was unable to get heat into his...
A torrid race came to a disappointing conclusion for pole-sitter Jenson Button in Melbourne today. Four outings for the safety car in an action-packed Australian Grand Prix left Jenson struggling for grip as he was unable to get heat into his tyres and he lost three places as the field reacted to a series of major accidents. He was running 5th and looking good for 4 points when his engine blew as he passed through the final corner.
Despite brake problems throughout the race, Rubens Barrichello was able to translate a disappointing grid slot into a 7th place finish, which opens his 2006 points account.
With a three week break before the next race in Imola, the team has two weeks of testing ahead to analyse these problems, first in Vallelunga, Italy and then in Barcelona. As Jenson did not take the chequered flag in Melbourne today he escapes a 10-place grid penalty in the next race, which gives the team the opportunity to maximise the benefit of its testing developments.
"It's disappointing to end the weekend as we did today after starting the race in pole position. The way the race panned out with the four safety cars left me struggling for grip after each restart and I lost so much time and so many places."
"I could feel that something was wrong with the engine in turn 13 and it was a difficult way to end the race after such a long hard battle. The car is strong when we have tyre temperature, but when we don't we have massive grip problems. We have two weeks of testing before Imola and hopefully we can solve these problems."
"It was very frustrating that Jenson was unable to finish the race. Although we didn't have the pace to fight very hard, it was disappointing to see him go out like that. I struggled the whole race with the brakes and it was impossible for me to overtake, although I was able to get past Speed and gain position."
"I have a couple of points at least, so in that respect at least my season is underway now. I think we all realise what a lot of work there is to do in the next couple of weeks in testing if we are to start the European season in a more competitive position."
Gil de Ferran, Sporting Director:
"Jenson had a very difficult time to warm up the tyres at the start and every restart after that, which meant that he progressively lost places in those situations. The same issue troubled both drivers. Then we had an engine failure on the last turn."
"Rubens had a tough race through the field and did a good job to finish in the points. We were unlucky with him on the second outing for the safety car since we elected to keep him out to gain track position, but the plan didn't work when he encountered traffic."
"Overall we were certainly hoping for more but despite the disappointment we will continue to keep pushing. There are two tests prior to Imola where we will be able to look into some of the issues that afflicted us here."
Shuhei Nakamoto, Management Board Member - Honda Racing F1 Team, Engineering Director - Honda Racing Development:
"We'll be studying the data to work out the cause of Jenson's engine problem. We're sorry his efforts did not bring him any points today. He drove a strong race but struggled for grip after the safety car periods. Rubens did well to score his first points of the season. We have lots to work on in testing to get where we need to be."
Jenson Button: 10th
Fastest lap 01:27.690
Rubens Barrichello: 7th
Fastest lap: 1:27.799