Belgian GP: Honda Friday notes

HONDAS KEEP CLOSE COMPANY IN BELGIUM Honda-powered quartet finish 13th, 14th, 15th and 16th in Free Practice Jacques Villenueve (Lucky Strike B.A.R Honda) finished 13th to head the Honda-powered foursome in today's free practice session for the...

Honda-powered quartet finish 13th, 14th, 15th and 16th in Free Practice

Jacques Villenueve (Lucky Strike B.A.R Honda) finished 13th to head the Honda-powered foursome in today's free practice session for the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps. DHL Jordan Honda's Giancarlo Fisichella and Takuma Sato finished in 14th and 15th places respectively while Olivier Panis (B.A.R Honda) recorded 16th position.

The 6.968km Spa-Francorchamps circuit is the longest track on the Formula One calendar and is widely regarded as one of the most demanding circuits of the season. The high speed straights and challenging corners, coupled with unpredictable weather conditions promise an exciting but tough weekend for all drivers. Free practice for the Belgian Grand Prix was delayed due to the heavy low-lying fog and cloud, which was preventing the safety helicopter from landing. The first session took place at midday for thirty minutes and the second from 1-2pm as scheduled.

B.A.R Honda's Jacques Villeneuve completed a total of 23 laps of the Spa-Francorchamps circuit, finishing in 13th position overall with a best time of 1m49.897s, an improvement of almost two and a half seconds on his best time of the first session. The Canadian was forced to sit out the first half of the second session due to a hydraulic fluid leak.

Jordan Honda's Giancarlo Fisichella, who had a suspected damper problem, completed nine laps in the first session and a further 14 laps in the second, setting a best time of 1m50.144s and finishing in 14th place overall. His team-mate Takuma Sato ran 24 laps and finished in 15th position overall, setting a best time of 1m50.357s, improving on his initial time by just over a second. Sato was working to improve the car and tyre balance when his engine failed 18 minutes before the end of the second session.

Olivier Panis (B.A.R Honda) completed 20 laps and set a best lap of 1m50.392s, putting him 16th place overall. Panis also suffered engine failure, but for the B.A.R Honda driver it happened as the first thirty minute session came to a close. Due to the revised schedule the team only had thirty minutes between the sessions, but they worked quickly to complete a full engine change and get the car back out on track in just over 40 minutes, so Panis was able to run for part of the second session.

The weather conditions improved at Spa (23 degrees) as the McLaren duo of Kimi Raikkonen and David Coulthard finished free practice in first and second positions respectively, followed by the Ferrari pairing of Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello. Ralf Schumacher (Williams) set the fifth fastest time while Renault's Jenson Button completes the top six.

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

"Not a great start to the weekend. We know that track time is important, particularly as the session had been shortened already due to the weather, so we're disappointed that we lost a couple of engines today. Things can be very changeable at Spa and we'll keep pushing all weekend so we can grab every opportunity to collect some more points."

Jacques Villeneuve Position: 13th

"The car feels good here. For the last two years the car hasn't been driveable at Spa but today it was very easy to drive. Unfortunately we're not quick enough but we were still the fastest Bridgestone runner after Ferrari. The delay to the morning session affected everybody but then I lost quite a bit of time in the second session because of a hydraulic fluid leak. The car was quite well balanced though so we were able to pick up where we left off. I always enjoy driving here but it was easy to take Eau Rouge flat today; with traction control and high grip it's now the same for everybody. Hopefully we'll have a better day tomorrow and a little more set-up time."

Giancarlo Fisichella Position: 14th

"During the first half hour we had a problem with the dampers and a very unstable car. The second session was better but at the moment our grip is not good and the balance is not perfect. We are struggling a little bit, but let's see what happens tomorrow."

Takuma Sato Position: 15th

"I was really looking forward to coming back to Spa, driving here for the first time in Formula One because I have such good memories here from Formula 3 days. In the first session we immediately had good pace. This is a great circuit and it was fantastic to drive through Eau Rouge. It was unfortunate that we only had 30 minutes for the first session and in the second session we couldn't get the car and tyre balance quite right. We were in the process of trying to improve it when the engine blew, which was a shame. We're working hard and hopefully tomorrow will be a better day."

Olivier Panis Position: 16th

"Obviously, it hasn't been a very good day today. As everybody saw, my engine let go at the end of the first session which cost me a lot of track time during the second session. Nevertheless, my first feeling was that the car was well-balanced before the problem occurred and I feel quite positive about tomorrow. We have only tomorrow morning to try to set up the car for qualifying so I have to work hard with the engineers this afternoon now to concentrate on that. I would like to thank my mechanics for a superb job today. They managed to change the engine in around 40 minutes but unfortunately by that time it was a bit late for us to do a great deal of useful set-up."


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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Giancarlo Fisichella , Takuma Sato , Jenson Button , Ralf Schumacher , Michael Schumacher , Rubens Barrichello , David Coulthard , Olivier Panis , Jacques Villeneuve , Kimi Raikkonen , Shuhei Nakamoto
Teams Ferrari , McLaren , Williams , Jordan