Belgian GP: Honda race notes

HONDA ENDURES TOUGH WEEKEND IN SPA Villeneuve and Sato finish eighth and 11th in Belgian Grand Prix Lucky Strike B.A.R Honda's Jacques Villeneuve crossed the line in eighth place in today's Belgian Grand Prix while Takuma Sato (DHL Jordan Honda)...

Villeneuve and Sato finish eighth and 11th in Belgian Grand Prix

Lucky Strike B.A.R Honda's Jacques Villeneuve crossed the line in eighth place in today's Belgian Grand Prix while Takuma Sato (DHL Jordan Honda) finished 11th. Jordan Honda's Giancarlo Fisichella and Olivier Panis (B.A.R Honda) were forced out of the action on laps 38 and 39 respectively due to engine failure.

B.A.R Honda's Jacques Villeneuve, who qualified 12th on the grid, was blocked by Jaguar's Eddie Irvine as the pair tussled through turn one, the 40 mph La Source hairpin, and fell back two places to 14th position. The Canadian then caught the one-stopping Fisichella and had a great battle over several laps before overtaking him on lap seven, moving up into 12th place when Jenson Button (Renault) stopped on lap 10.

Villeneuve pushed hard and shot past the Toyota of Allan McNish on lap 13, taking 11th position shortly before the first of his two scheduled stops on lap 16. He returned to the track in 14th place, moving up into 11th as the first round of pit stops unfolded. Villeneuve came in for his second pit stop on lap 33 from eighth position and returned to the track in 12th place, just two seconds behind Fisichella. The B.A.R Honda driver gained a further four places before the end of the race due to the retirements of Kimi Raikkonen (McLaren), Renault's Jarno Trulli, Fisichella and Panis. He crossed the line in eighth position, the highest finishing Bridgestone runner after the two Ferraris, having started 12th on the grid.

The two-stopping Takuma Sato (Jordan Honda) fell back one place to 17th at the start, as the mid field pack bunched up on the tight right hand turn. He had an incident free run up to his first pit stop, having only gained one position when Button retired on lap 10. Sato was the second driver to come in for his first pit stop on lap 14, right behind Sauber's Felipe Massa.

Unfortunately a sticking wheel nut caused the stop to last for an agonising 17.2 seconds, returning him to the track in 18th position where he remained until lap 29 when he came in for his second stop, this time as the first driver into the pits. Sato rejoined in 17th place and by lap 39 had moved up into 11th as Raikkonen, Trulli, De La Rosa, Massa, Fisichella and Panis were all forced out of the action. The Jordan Honda driver went on to finish in 11th place from 16th on the grid.

B.A.R Honda's Olivier Panis fell back three places at the start to 18th and pushed hard to catch Sato for 17th place before the first round of pit stops when he eventually overtook the Jordan Honda driver. Having moved up into ninth position by lap 18 as the first round of pit stops unfolded, Panis then came in for his first scheduled stop and rejoined in 16th place. The Frenchman was in 13th when he came in for his second pit stop on lap 33. He rejoined in 16th and gained two further places as Raikkonen and Trulli retired. De La Rosa and Fisichella's exit from the action moved Panis up into 12th position, but just minutes later the race was over for Panis as his engine let go on lap 39.

Jordan Honda's Giancarlo Fisichella got away well from 14th on the grid and nipped past fellow Honda driver Jacques Villeneuve into 13th place. Fisichella fell back two places to 15th on lap seven when he was overtaken by Villeneuve and Massa. The Italian however, who was the only driver on an aggressive one-stop strategy, pushed very hard and reached sixth place by lap 19 as the two-stoppers pitted for the first time.

Fisichella came in for his one scheduled pit stop on lap 22, rejoining in 15th place ahead of Panis and Sato. By lap 31 Fisichella had moved up into 12th position, going on to inherit another four places by lap 37 due to the retirements of Trulli, Raikkonen, Massa and De La Rosa. The Jordan Honda driver was running in eighth position when he was forced out of the action as his engine failed with only six laps to go.

In cooler weather conditions at Spa Francorchamps (16 degrees) Ferrari's Michael Schumacher took the chequered flag, finishing ahead of team-mate Rubens Barrichello and the Williams of Juan Pablo Montoya. David Coulthard (McLaren) and Ralf Schumacher (Williams) finished fourth and fifth while Eddie Irvine (Jaguar) completes the top six positions.

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

"Jacques and Takuma did well to finish eighth and 11th, having started from 12th and 16th on the grid but I'm sorry that Olivier and Giancarlo weren't able to finish the race today. It's been the weekend from hell and I'm just glad it's all over. We've got a lot of work to do before Monza."

Jacques Villeneuve Position: 8th

"As the race turned out, we had a real chance of getting 6th today but I had a terrible start and then lost time behind McNish. It was a fair fight but that wasn't the case with Fisichella. I spent too much time stuck behind him and, because of his strategy, we could have been fighting together until the end of the race if his engine hadn't blown. Generally the car was working well but we were lacking a bit of power. Monza is going to be difficult for us I think. It's a real power circuit so we've got some work to do in testing next week to find some way of making us more reliable."

Takuma Sato Position: 11th

"It has been a tough weekend for us. I had quite a difficult start, I don't know why yet because I haven't seen any data, but the car was quite nervous everywhere, oversteering and hopping around a lot and costing me quite a few seconds. At the first pit stop, the tyre change took a really long time, which was a shame, although the second and third stints were better. Spa is great fun to drive so it's a shame we didn't have better results, but this is motor racing and you have to fight back."

Olivier Panis Position: DNF

"I was heavier on fuel than most of those around me so I didn't get such a good start because of that and, as everybody saw, I lost places. After that I battled as hard as I could to regain position but it was too late. I kept pushing throughout the race and I could have finished behind Jacques but once again I was unlucky with my engine and that was the end of my race. I really hope that we can fix the problem because Monza is a power circuit and it's going to be a tough race. We're testing there next week so have a lot of work to do."

Giancarlo Fisichella Position: DNF

"I was having a good race and unfortunately we lost it when the engine blew up, which was very scary. I don't know yet why it happened. Considering my grid position, the one-stop strategy was looking good, which is frustrating. I'm already looking to the next race."


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