STRONG START FOR HONDA IN AUSTRIA Villeneuve and Button set fourth and fifth fastest times at the A1-Ring Lucky Strike B*A*R Honda's Jacques Villeneuve and Jenson Button finished fourth and fifth fastest in today's first qualifying session for...
STRONG START FOR HONDA IN AUSTRIA
Villeneuve and Button set fourth and fifth fastest times at the A1-Ring
Lucky Strike B*A*R Honda's Jacques Villeneuve and Jenson Button finished fourth and fifth fastest in today's first qualifying session for the Austrian Grand Prix.
The drivers were greeted by cool and dry weather conditions for this morning's free practice (14 degrees) and both B*A*R Honda drivers had a strong session, completing over 50 laps between them. Button finished seventh with a time of 1m09.374s while Villeneuve set a best time of 1m09.429s and finished ninth. McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen got things underway at the A1-Ring this afternoon as he still leads the 2003 drivers' championship.
The track temperature rose three degrees to a high of 31, but the sky remained cloudy and fifteen minutes into the session the track temperature plummeted to 24 degrees. Soon afterwards the session was stopped briefly as Ralf Schumacher (Williams) spun off at turn four. Villeneuve went out 11th to complete his one flying lap, half way through the qualifying session. The Canadian set a third fastest time of 1m08.680s after the two Ferraris. Button was out on track just after his team-mate, gaining fourth position with a time of 1m08.831s. Villeneuve and Button were finally placed fourth and fifth after all the qualifying runs were completed, only Mark Webber (Jaguar) displacing them.
The session saw its second red flag with just over 15 minutes left as Jordan's Ralf Firman spun off on the pit straight. Even though it was out of control, Firman's car crossed the line so he still officially recorded a time.
For final qualifying tomorrow Button and Villeneuve will be out on track in 16th and 17th position respectively, as today's times dictate the running order for Final qualifying on Saturday.
Ferrari's Michael Schumacher set a fastest lap of 1m07.908s around the 4.326km/2.688miles circuit, followed by team-mate Rubens Barrichello and Jaguar's Mark Webber. B*A*R Honda's Jacques Villeneuve and Jenson Button finished fourth and fifth while Juan Pablo Montoya (Williams) completes the top six.
Shuhei Nakamoto - Engineering Director, Honda Racing Development:
"Fourth and fifth is encouraging and overall we've had a strong day. However, we've got to make sure we get the best out of the package tomorrow and convert our speed into points on Sunday."
Jacques Villeneuve Position: 4th
"It was a good lap and I'm happy that the car is working well. I knew we'd be competitive here but that's a little faster than I expected. We had a few problems this morning in free practice but we changed certain things with our set-up for qualifying and that did the trick. The car has been quick all season and we're making small improvements all the time, but it's quite cool here at the moment and the car seems to work better when it's not too hot.
"I feel good. I like this track and I have great memories of racing here. There are some good overtaking opportunities so there is always a lot of action. Our strategy will determine how well we do through the rest of the weekend but we're looking better than we have in other races this season."
Jenson Button Position: 5th
"We expected to be quite high up in first qualifying here. So far so good. From the off though the car had far too much oversteer. We thought we had made a set-up improvement after free practice but I think we over-compensated and the car was too nervous at the rear. It's not a big problem, we just need to do some more work on the set-up. Over one lap the car is good but we'll have to work on the longer runs now. I'm reasonably confident at this stage and looking forward to a good weekend."