B.A.R HONDA'S BUTTON AND SATO DENIED POINTS AT SPECTACULAR SPA Button and Sato forced out of action-packed Belgian GP Lucky Strike B.A.R Honda's Jenson Button was forced out of today's Belgian Grand Prix on lap 29 due to a right rear tyre blow...
B.A.R HONDA'S BUTTON AND SATO DENIED POINTS AT SPECTACULAR SPA
Button and Sato forced out of action-packed Belgian GP
Lucky Strike B.A.R Honda's Jenson Button was forced out of today's Belgian Grand Prix on lap 29 due to a right rear tyre blow out. It was also not a good day for team-mate Takuma Sato, whose race was cruelly cut short before the end of lap one as he was involved in a racing incident with the damaged Jaguar of Mark Webber and the hard charging Juan Pablo Montoya (Williams).
The safety car was deployed moments after the lights went out to signal the start of the Belgian Grand Prix, as B.A.R Honda's Sato, Jaguar's Mark Webber, Minardi's Gianmaria Bruni and Jordan's Giorgio Pantano were all involved in a first lap accident. Button, who moved up one place to 11th at the start, pitted for a new nosecone, fuel and tyres due to damage sustained in the first lap melee.
As the race action restarted on lap four, Button darted past Ricardo Zonta's Toyota for P10 into La Source, and by lap 10 was running in eighth place as Christian Klien (Jaguar) and race leader Jarno Trulli (Renault) pitted. Two laps later Button was up into sixth position as Fernando Alonso (Renault) spun out of the race at the exit of Rivage and McLaren's David Coulthard was forced to pit due to a puncture.
Button, who was running in P2 behind McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen by lap 17, as all the front-runners pitted, came in for his first scheduled stop on lap 21. The Honda-powered driver rejoined in seventh place behind Giancarlo Fisichella but quickly overtook the Sauber driver for P6.
Lap 23 saw Rubens Barrichello (Ferrari) pit and Button move up into fifth place, just 6.6 seconds behind the Williams duo battling for third. Six laps later it was all over for the B.A.R Honda driver as a right rear tyre blow out caused him to lose control and collide with Minardi's Zsolt Baumgartner at turn five.
Sato got away very well from 15th on the grid and made up a considerable amount of places into the first turn. However, as he tried to overtake Webber going into Eau Rouge on lap one, he became sandwiched between the Australian, who had braked too late at La Source and run into the back of Barrichello, and Montoya. As a result, Webber hit Sato, causing the Japanese star to spin off track and out of the race.
Spa Francorchamps enjoyed dry and unusually sunny weather conditions this afternoon (20 degrees) as McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen won the Belgian Grand Prix, his first victory of the 2004 season, having started 10th on the grid. Ferrari's Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello crossed the line second and third, the German notching up his seventh drivers' championship. The Sauber duo of Felipe Massa and Giancarlo Fisichella finished fourth and fifth while Christian Klien (Jaguar), McLaren's David Coulthard and Toyota's Olivier Panis took the final three point scoring positions.
Jenson Button Position: DNF
"I got a bad start when I was hit by Pizzonia and went wide and into the back of Massa at turn one. I lost my front wing and had to pit at the end of the first lap. After that, the car was running reasonably well, we had a good fuel load and I felt pretty pleased with the balance of car. Towards the end of my race I felt that I had a problem on the rear and then the tyre let go, so I am very disappointed as we were confident that we would have been on the podium with our strategy. We now look forward to testing again in Monza next week and maintaining our challenge against Renault at the next race."
Takuma Sato Position: DNF
"What a race today! We could have finished in a strong position and personally I was extremely disappointed after we had a really good start and I was running in 8th position. I then saw Mark Webber going downhill towards Eau Rouge extremely slowly with his front wing missing and the problem was that he was in the middle of the racing line, so that is why I had to hit the brakes quite hard to avoid him."
"Montoya was overtaking me on the right-hand side at the top of the hill whilst I was passing Webber on his right, and I became sandwiched between the two cars. I didn't know what happened at the time, but Webber then hit me. We were confident that we could have delivered a strong result today, however, we have maintained our position in the Championship and will return to testing next week in Monza to prepare for the Italian Grand Prix in two weeks' time."
Shuhei Nakamoto -- Engineering Director, Honda Racing Development
"It seems extraordinary that after a race like that our championship position has not changed at all in relation to our nearest competitors. This is the first race this year where we haven't scored any points and it is disappointing that our record has been broken by a couple of accidents but sometimes you have days like this in racing. We must work hard at the Monza test this week to make sure we can compete well in Italy."