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Australian GP: Honda race report

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Australian GP: Honda race report
Mar 16, 2008, 3:21 AM

Rubens Barrichello delivered a strong, determined drive at Albert Park today in the opening race of the 2008 season, but the delight at a sixth place finish was replaced with disappointment as he was excluded from the points after a pitlane ...

Rubens Barrichello delivered a strong, determined drive at Albert Park today in the opening race of the 2008 season, but the delight at a sixth place finish was replaced with disappointment as he was excluded from the points after a pitlane infringement.

The season-opener was a race of high attrition, with only seven cars making it to the finish, and Jenson was one of the unfortunate retirees. He made a good start, passing Fernando Alonso away from the line, but in the first corner melee he suffered an impact with Sebastian Vettel which broke the left rear suspension of Jenson's car, leaving the rear wheel askew and ending his race there and then.

RESULTS

Jenson Button
Car No: 16
Chassis: RA108-02
Race Result: DNF

Rubens Barrichello
Car No: 17
Chassis: RA108-04
Race Result: Crossed the line in 6th but excluded

Weather: Very hot and sunny
Temperatures: Air: 36-38C Track: 46-51C

RUBENS BARRICHELLO

Q. You drove such a hard race, only to then be excluded. Can you sum up your feelings for us?

A. "Although the final result of today's race is so disappointing, I'm really pleased with my performance and that we were able to get the best out of the car. It was a crazy race today and I lost control of the front damper after the first pit stop, so my race was more difficult from there. It's tough to finish the day like this."

Q. On the positive side, you were looking good for much of the race and the car seemed to be performing well. Were you happy with the performance of the RA108?

A. "The signs from the weekend show that this car has great potential and the guys back at the factory have done a fantastic job over the last few weeks on its development. It was good to complete a full race distance to increase our understanding of the car. We'll now look forward to Malaysia and optimising the performance of the car there."

JENSON BUTTON

Q. What happened at the start to bring your race to an early conclusion?

A. "I got a good start off the line, getting past Alonso and running alongside Vettel. Unfortunately it was just a racing incident that caused the damage as we were going three or four cars abreast down to the very narrow and quick first corner. I tapped Vettel in the sidepod which seemed to spin him and then he turned in and hit my rear wheel as I was going past. I thought that I could get back to the garage and see if the car could be fixed, but the damage was too bad to continue as the rear left corner trackrod was broken."

Q. What positives can you take away from this weekend?

A. "It's been a good opening weekend for us. We're encouraged by our performance and I'm now looking ahead to Malaysia next week and getting back in the car there."

ROSS BRAWN Team Principal

Q. After such a gutsy drive by Rubens, can you explain the events surrounding his second pitstop?

A. "Shortly after we called Rubens in for the second of two planned pitstops, Timo Glock had a crash and the safety car was deployed. We had no alternative but to continue to bring him in because he was out of fuel, although we realised that the pitlane was going to be closed due to the safety car and that this would result in a 10-second stop-go penalty. During the pitstop the lollipop was lifted just a fraction early while the fuel hose was just coming off the car. After the pitstop Rubens exited the pitlane when the lights were still red and obviously this is in breach of the regulations. A tough set of circumstances after an otherwise very committed drive by Rubens. He got a good start and was able to keep Kimi Raikkonen behind him for 19 laps, so it is the positives that we take away from this weekend."

Q. Disappointment aside, can you sum up the performance of the RA108 in its debut race weekend?

A. "In qualifying we saw that the pace of the car was in the midfield and today's race confirmed that we have the potential to fight for points, which is our target. The aerodynamic package for Melbourne has worked well but a further step is required to move us up the grid and enable us to be a regular contender in Q3."

-credit: honda

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