Austrian GP: Honda race notes

POINTS FINISH FOR HONDA IN AUSTRIA Fisichella scores fifth place and two points for Jordan Honda Giancarlo Fisichella and DHL Jordan Honda recorded fifth place in today's Austrian Grand Prix, and he was the first driver to cross the line after...

Fisichella scores fifth place and two points for Jordan Honda

Giancarlo Fisichella and DHL Jordan Honda recorded fifth place in today's Austrian Grand Prix, and he was the first driver to cross the line after the championship leaders Ferrari and Williams. Jacques Villeneuve (Lucky Strike B.A.R Honda) was classified 10th, after coming to a halt on the last lap due to an engine fault while Takuma Sato (Jordan Honda) was forced out of the action on lap 27 when he was hit by the Sauber of Nick Heidfeld. B.A.R Honda's Olivier Panis retired from the race on lap 23 with engine failure.

In warm and sunny conditions (22 degrees) the Austrian Grand Prix got underway at the A1-Ring in Spielberg. Jordan Honda's Giancarlo Fisichella made up one place at the start and by the second lap he had moved up into 11th place behind Sauber's Felipe Massa. The Italian driver moved up into ninth place after the McLaren of Kimi Raikkonen dropped out, but fell back to 10th when B.A.R Honda's Jacques Villeneuve over took him on lap nine. The Jordan Honda driver came in for his first and only scheduled pit stop on lap 28 during the first safety car period of the race, which was brought out as a result of the engine failure on Olivier Panis's car, which left him stranded on the track.

Fisichella rejoined in ninth position and, due to the retirement of his team-mate Takuma Sato and Sauber's Nick Heidfeld on lap 27, he moved up into seventh place behind David Coulthard (McLaren) by lap 33. With a points scoring finish in sight, the Italian fought hard and over took Coulthard for sixth place on lap 40. Fisichella gained a position when Villeneuve pitted for the second time, and the Italian went on to finish the race fifth from 15th on the grid, scoring two valuable points for himself and Jordan Honda.

B.A.R Honda's Jacques Villeneuve made up one position at the start but fell back to 18th after a coming together with Enrique Bernoldi (Arrows) on the first lap. Villeneuve didn't waste any time however, and by lap three the Canadian driver had moved up into 15th position behind his B.A.R Honda team-mate Olivier Panis. Villeneuve continued to push and after snatching 14th position from his team-mate, he made up six positions in eight laps, having over taken the Renault of Jarno Trulli, Toyota's Allan McNish, the Jordan Honda of Giancarlo Fisichella and the second Renault of Jenson Button, moving up into eighth position by the 14th lap.

Villeneuve battled with Toyota's Mika Salo and over took him for seventh place on lap 19, before coming in for his first of two scheduled pit stops on lap 24. The B.A.R Honda driver rejoined in 12th place but had to return to the pits for a drive through penalty on lap 29 due to the first lap incident with Bernoldi. Villeneuve had gained a couple of places due to the retirements of Sato and Heidfeld, and rejoined in 10th position as most of the field came into the pits. By lap 34 Villeneuve had moved up into seventh place and he went on to over take Fisichella and then Coulthard, moving up into fifth position on lap 40.

He fought his way up into third place, moving ahead of Juan Pablo Montoya on lap 51 when the Williams driver pitted, but Villeneuve had to come in two laps later for his second pit stop, rejoining the race in eighth position behind the Renault of Jenson Button. The B.A.R Honda driver failed to cross the line due to an engine fault, although he was classified 10th.

Takuma Sato remained in 18th position off the grid but made good progress and by lap six the Japanese driver had moved up into 14th position, behind B.A.R Honda's Panis. Sato came in for his first pit stop on lap 24 under red flags and rejoined the action in 16th position. Just three laps later Nick Heidfeld (Sauber) span off the track and hit Sato's car on the exit of turn two, taking them both out of the race. Professor Sid Watkins told Eddie Jordan that Sato appeared to have no serious injuries, but as a precaution he was flown to Graz University Hospital for checks.

B.A.R Honda's Olivier Panis, who was on a one-stop strategy, had fallen back five places by lap two, having started ninth on the grid. Panis moved up one place due to the retirement of McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen on the sixth lap, but the Frenchman remained in 13th position until lap 23 when he was forced out of the action with engine failure.

Michael Schumacher (Ferrari) took the chequered flag, finishing ahead of his team-mate Rubens Barrichello and the Williams of Juan Pablo Montoya. Ralf Schumacher (Williams) and Jordan Honda's Giancarlo Fisichella finished fourth and fifth with David Coulthard (McLaren) completing the point scoring positions.

Shuhei Nakamoto - Race and Test Team Manager, Honda Racing Development

"We have all been through every emotion while watching the race today. From the fear of seeing Takuma involved in such a big accident and the disappointment of two of our cars not finishing the race with engine problems, to the joy of discovering that Takuma is okay and scoring our first points of the season. I think Giancarlo drove a really great race today and the Jordan Honda team performed impressively under such difficult conditions."

Giancarlo Fisichella Position: 5th

"It's been a very, very good day for me, as I didn't expect to score points. But, the most important thing is that Takuma is alright. I had a good start, although the beginning of the race wasn't easy. When the safety car came out, we timed our pit stop perfectly and refuelled to get the end of the race. Afterwards, we had good balance and grip, and I didn't make any mistakes. When I was behind the McLaren, it was quicker on the straights, but I was confident on the corners, and then David hit an oily patch on the track and I had my chance to take fifth place. It felt fantastic when I crossed the line and I would like to say thank you to the team, especially because we made the right pit stop decision."

Jacques Villeneuve Position: DNF (classified 10th)

"The car was quick in the race, except towards the end when I had the first signs of a problem. We took the decision to run a two-stop strategy because of where I was on the grid and that was really working out for me for the first half of the race. I was able to pass a lot of people and took advantage of the first safety car to come in for my first pitstop. What really cost us today was the penalty. The second safety car stayed out for quite a long time but it was too early in our strategy to make my second pitstop. Towards the end of the race we knew there was a problem because we were losing hydraulic pressure, then the engine let go on the last lap. It's been a better race for me than the rest of the weekend though. I'd forgotten what racing is like and today was a little reminder."

Takuma Sato Position: DNF - accident

Statement issued by Jordan Honda at 1830hrs: DHL Jordan Honda driver Takuma Sato will remain in Graz's University Hospital for observation overnight following his accident in today's Austrian Grand Prix. The 25 year old Japanese driver was flown to Graz by air ambulance following initial checks at the circuit Medical Centre overseen by Professor Sid Watkins, the FIA's Chief Medical Officer.

Takuma's manager Andrew Gilbert-Scott has contacted the team from Graz to explain that the initial diagnosis is 'soft tissue' damage to the right thigh, but there appear to be no broken bones. He remained in the car immediately following the accident because the rear crash structure of the Sauber had broken through the side of the Jordan Honda EJ12 monocoque slightly below Taku's right knee causing extensive damage and making it difficult for him to move. The side impact crash structures absorbed the impact well. He was treated at the scene by the FIA's Medical Team and removed to the medical centre where he was able to sit up and talk.

Eddie Jordan walked to race Control during the race to establish further information and was informed by Professor Watkins that the fact Takuma had escaped serious injury was 'a miracle' and that he appeared to be ok. The team in the pits was quickly informed that Takuma was relatively unhurt.

The decision to keep Takuma in hospital overnight is precautionary in order to check for any after effects of such a serious accident. The team does not know the full extent of the bruising or other injuries, not how long it will take before Takuma is able to drive again. A full update will be issued tomorrow.

Olivier Panis Position: DNF

"My start was very good but I lost places because I was very heavy on fuel. I still felt quite confident though because, as we now know, one-stopping would have been the right strategy. On the 3rd lap I felt something happen with the car; it suddenly felt a little strange. I kept pushing but in the end the engine blew as I was coming down the straight to start my 23rd lap. Sure, I'm a little disappointed, but we have to keep pushing and stay focused now. I really feel that I got the best out of the car here this weekend. We made good progress with the set-up and I qualified well so it's just a question of making it through the race with no problems. We are still going forward and I'm sure that my luck will change soon. I'm ready for Monaco!"


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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Juan Pablo Montoya
Teams Ferrari , Sauber , McLaren , Williams , Jordan