HONDA-POWERED DRIVER TO START FROM SIXTH ROW Villeneuve and Fisichella qualify in 12th and 14th place for Belgian Grand Prix Lucky Strike B.A.R Honda's Jacques Villeneuve qualified in 12th position for tomorrow's grid of the Belgian Grand Prix...
HONDA-POWERED DRIVER TO START FROM SIXTH ROW
Villeneuve and Fisichella qualify in 12th and 14th place for Belgian Grand Prix
Lucky Strike B.A.R Honda's Jacques Villeneuve qualified in 12th position for tomorrow's grid of the Belgian Grand Prix while Giancarlo Fisichella (DHL Jordan Honda) will start from 14th place. Olivier Panis (B.A.R Honda) and Jordan Honda's Takuma Sato will line up in 15th and 16th positions respectively.
The first third of the qualifying hour saw very little action as the teams studied weather reports and worked out the best strategy for the session, resulting in the majority of the field pouring out onto the circuit 20 minutes into the hour. B.A.R Honda's Jacques Villeneuve and Olivier Panis took to the track at this time for their first attack, followed shortly afterwards by the Jordan Honda duo of Takuma Sato and Giancarlo Fisichella. Sato completed four sets of three laps during the qualifying hour at Spa Francorchamps while Panis, Fisichella and Villeneuve endured a difficult session, only managing three complete runs each.
Jacques Villeneuve set his best lap on his second outing, finishing the day as the fastest of the four Honda-powered drivers and the top Bridgestone runner after the two Ferraris. The B.A.R Honda driver spun off the track on his third outing and failed to improve on his time on his final attack. Villeneuve set a best time of 1m46.403s, which was two tenths of a second faster than his first outing, finally placing him in 12th position on the sixth row of the grid.
Giancarlo Fisichella waited until the track was clear in an attempt to avoid the traffic and get in a quick first lap. His strategy didn't go according to plan however, as the Jordan Honda driver had to abort his second run after he lost control of his car during braking and slid off the track at turn seven. The Italian jumped on a scooter and made it back to the pits in time to swap to the spare car and go back out with just over 10 minutes of the session left. The entire field soon flooded back onto the track for their final qualifying effort, with just three minutes to go. Fisichella set a best time of 1m46.508s on his final run, an improvement of half a second on his first flying lap, and will start from the seventh row of the grid in 14th position, directly behind Villeneuve.
Olivier Panis also set his best lap on his final run, placing the Frenchman 15th on the grid. Panis suffered engine failure on his second qualifying attack, and swapped to the spare car for his final two outings. The B.A.R Honda driver failed to improve on his initial time on his third run but went on to set a 1m46.553s on his final flying lap, an improvement of one tenth of a second.
Takuma Sato had a more straight forward session than his fellow Honda-powered drivers, completing four runs of three laps and recording his best time of 1m15.804s on his third outing, placing the Jordan Honda driver in 16th position on the grid. The Japanese driver will line up behind team-mate Fisichella and alongside B.A.R Honda's Olivier Panis.
The weather remained fine (20 degrees) at Spa as Ferrari's Michael Schumacher secured pole position ahead of McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen and Ferrari team-mate Rubens Barrichello. The Williams of Ralf Schumacher and Juan Pablo Montoya will start from fourth and fifth positions while David Coulthard (McLaren) completes the top six grid positions for tomorrow's race.
Shuhei Nakamoto - Race and Test Team Manager, Honda Racing Development
"I'm disappointed because we hoped for better this weekend and although we had a difficult day yesterday, warm up went better this morning and we thought we'd be able to go better than we have done. Not the best weekend so far, but we can still turn it around tomorrow."
Jacques Villeneuve Position: 12th
"We've managed to salvage the weekend a little bit because we had problems yesterday and then in practice this morning the aero wasn't working properly so we couldn't set the car up that well for qualifying. On my second run this afternoon, I was passing a slowing Sauber and ran wide, which caused me to spin off backwards into the gravel. Fortunately I recovered it quite well, stuck it into reverse and kept going backwards to get onto the track which minimised the amount of gravel I collected thankfully. After that we made steady improvement during the last two runs but then de la Rosa spun in front of me and I lost my only chance of making the top 10 today. We were the fastest Bridgestone runner after Ferrari again but in a fair race tomorrow it's going to be very difficult to get close to the points. If the weather is wet though that could count in our favour."
Giancarlo Fisichella Position: 14th
"I am very disappointed. It was a difficult qualifying as we were not competitive today and our tyres offered no advantage. I may have been able to find another half a second but unfortunately I lost my race car during braking on the second outing. When you jump in the T-car it's always difficult as you aren't as confident, but I did quite a good lap on my last run. 14th is not very good, but considering the qualifying session I had, it's okay. I'm usually more confident in the race as that is where we are competitive. I had a terrific race here last year and I haven't given up on the hope of scoring points this weekend, particularly if the weather conditions are right."
Olivier Panis Position: 12th
"What can I say? I lost my second engine in two days, which cost me all the good work I did with my engineers in practice this morning to achieve a car that was capable of qualifying in the top 10. The T-car was set up for Jacques so we lost time changing the settings but I would like to congratulate the T-car crew for turning the car around so quickly. If it hadn't been for that I would only have managed three runs today. To make things worse, the engine that was fitted into the T-car had a problem which caused a misfire and I wasn't able to improve my time before the end of the session. So, I'll have to focus on tomorrow now and try to make the best of things in order to get the best possible position in the race tomorrow."
Takuma Sato Position: 16th
"It was a tough qualifying for both of us. The car didn't feel too bad, although we needed some more stability and grip. Even so, we pushed the car set-up to the limit and it still wasn't enough to get a good position. At such a great circuit that's a shame but tomorrow we have another chance."