The Lucky Strike B*A*R Honda team had a first points finish well within its sights in today's Bahrain Grand Prix, but their hopes were dashed by brake problems for Takuma Sato and a clutch issue late in the race for Jenson Button. Both drivers...
The Lucky Strike B*A*R Honda team had a first points finish well within its sights in today's Bahrain Grand Prix, but their hopes were dashed by brake problems for Takuma Sato and a clutch issue late in the race for Jenson Button.
Both drivers made a solid start to the 57-lap race with Takuma making up two places off the grid and Jenson moving up from 11th to 10th. By the first round of pitstops Takuma had fought his way up to 6th place and was doing a good job of keeping Rubens Barrichello at bay. The pit crew put him back on track ahead of the Ferrari but soon after the stop, on lap 25, he suffered run-away brake disc wear and he was forced to retire in the garage.
Jenson experienced gear shift problems early in the race as well as signs of the same brake wear suffered by Takuma. A precautionary check at his second pitstop confirmed that he was managing the brake wear well but as he tried to select first gear to exit the pit box, a clutch problem intervened and it took several attempts to restart the car. When he finally got going, a knock-on issue caused him to stop at the pitlane exit.
Jenson Button, DNF (46 laps):
"I got a reasonable start, our car felt strong and we had good pace, so we were obviously hoping for better things. I tried to overtake Fisichella on lap two but he moved across me and I lost three places behind him. From around lap 20 we were starting to experience some bad gear shifts and also signs of brake wear, so I had to start to look after the brakes a bit more."
"The pit crew removed the tyre to inspect the front left in the last pitstop and it seemed that we would make it to the end of the race. When I tried to select first and pull away though, the clutch problem recurred and I couldn't pull away. The guys did a fantastic job to try to get me back into the race but then the car stopped at the pit lane exit."
"We have two weeks of testing now where we have to work hard on reliability for Imola. We will have a new package and a stronger car, so let's hope that San Marino is where our season will finally get started."
Takuma Sato, DNF (27 laps):
"We had a great race while it lasted, so it's a shame that I had to retire from the race. I got a good start and was able to make up lots of places in the early stages of the race, which was very exciting for me and I enjoyed it a lot. This is a very hard braking circuit though and we had a brake wear problem."
"I am obviously disappointed but the team did a great job keeping me ahead of Rubens following my pitstop. We have to keep focused on the positives now and I'm looking forward to the next two weeks of testing where we will keep pushing to develop the car for Imola."
Geoff Willis, Technical Director:
"Obviously the team are frustrated to have retired both cars from the race after what was promising to be a good performance for the team. Despite the retirements by Takuma who had run-away brake wear and by Jenson, who in his last pit stop appears to have had a clutch failure, there are a number of good points to take out of the race."
"As shown by the late first pit stops, both drivers had qualified with high fuel loads and our strategy was working well; the team beat Ferrari in Takuma's first pit stop allowing him to pass Barrichello. Both drivers drove well, Jenson taking the fifth fastest lap despite having to look after his brakes and Takuma having a strong start and first few laps to move from 13th to 8th by lap three. Takuma was in 6th place when he retired and Jenson was up to 7th."
"We now have to investigate the cause of our brake and clutch failures. We have a lot of new parts to test in the next two weeks and with new engines for Imola we have to focus on improving our chassis performance for the next race."
Nick Fry, Chief Executive Officer:
"It was encouraging that Jenson and Taku were able to run in point-scoring positions and for our pit crew to be able to beat Ferrari in a back to back pit stop race. Obviously it was very disappointing that both cars should stop with different problems, and for Jenson so late in the race when he was on target for a good points finish."
"We now need to regroup and implement both aerodynamic performance improvements and reliability measures before Imola, where we plan to kick off the European season with some points. The team remain focused on our goal of winning a race this season and with 16 rounds to go and knowing the depth of resource, skill and strength of character in our team, we can still meet our objective."
Shuhei Nakamoto, Engineering Director, Honda Racing Development:
"It is obviously a frustrating day for the whole team but I thought that both of the drivers did a very good job today and got the best out of the car. We must make the most out of the three week break to improve our situation."