VILLENEUVE SURVIVES CHAOTIC RACE IN BRAZIL B*A*R Honda driver finishes sixth and scores three points at Interlagos Lucky Strike B*A*R Honda's Jacques Villeneuve finished in sixth place at the Brazilian Grand Prix while team-mate Jenson Button...
VILLENEUVE SURVIVES CHAOTIC RACE IN BRAZIL
B*A*R Honda driver finishes sixth and scores three points at Interlagos
Lucky Strike B*A*R Honda's Jacques Villeneuve finished in sixth place at the Brazilian Grand Prix while team-mate Jenson Button spun out of the race on lap 32. Only 10 drivers finished the eventful race, which was cut short to 54 laps.
The race start was delayed by 15 minutes and began behind the safety car due to the torrential rain in Sao Paolo, which wrecked havoc throughout the entire race. Lap seven saw the pace car return to the pits for the start of green flag racing and B*A*R Honda's Button and Villeneuve moved up into 10th and 11th places respectively, having started 11th and 13th on the grid. The conditions remained hazardous and by lap 18 four cars were out of the race, mostly due to the drivers losing control of their cars on the waterlogged circuit.
The safety car was deployed again on lap 18 due to debris on the track from Ralph Firman's Jordan, so the team called Button and Villeneuve in for their first pit stops from eighth and 10th positions. Both drivers had good clean stops and rejoined the action in 10th and 14th place. The pack continued to tip-toe around the circuit. Turn three was particularly hazardous, Wilson, Montoya, Pizzonia and Michael Schumacher all spinning off at this point on the circuit and retiring from the race. Button, who was running in fifth place and setting competitive lap times, was also a victim of the water running across the track, losing control of his B*A*R Honda 005 and spinning out of the race on lap 32.
Rubens Barrichello (Ferrari) disappointed his home crowd by retiring while leading the race on lap 46 and handing first position to McLaren's David Coulthard. Villeneuve moved up into sixth place when Ralf Schumacher (Williams) and Renault's Jarno Trulli pitted. The 71 lap race was stopped early when Fernando Alonso (Renault) hit debris from the Jaguar of Mark Webber and crashed badly on lap 54.
There was some initial confusion over the final result as it was unknown which lap would be classified as the final lap. After a short but anxious wait it was confirmed that lap 53 would determine the result, hence McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen was declared the winner with Giancarlo Fisichella (Jordan) second and Fernando Alonso (Renault) third. Fourth and fifth place were taken by David Coulthard (McLaren) and Heinz-Harald Frentzen (Sauber) while B*A*R Honda's Jacques Villeneuve finished sixth. The final two points scoring positions were taken by Mark Webber and Jarno Trulli.
Shuhei Nakamoto - Engineering Director, Honda Racing Development
"First of all I'm pleased that Jacques has scored his first points this season. He did well to keep going in such difficult conditions. Jenson also did an extremely good job before his unfortunate spin. However, I think our strategy was looking good today. The three flyway races have been tough and we're looking forward to starting the European season in two weeks time. On a final note I would like to pass all our best wishes to MotoGP rider Daijiro Kato in the hope that he can fully recover from his crash in the race at Suzuka today."
Jacques Villeneuve: Position: 6th
"It was a very difficult race; the track was tough to drive but if you took care of yourself then it wasn't too bad. There wasn't that much water really; it's down to the drivers to be less crazy in those conditions and there was some crazy driving out there. Some drivers were overtaking under the yellow flags; halfway through the race I saw Alonso overtake under the flags. I think it's that kind of driving that leads to big accidents. We saw the same thing in the pit stops with drivers chopping across the field on the exit then having to lift halfway down the straight to stop them going off onto the grass. It's that sort of thing that creates the danger, not just the conditions themselves. I'm pleased with sixth place today. It's very difficult for the guys in these conditions but they did a great job. I'm happy that we were able to bring the team three more points today."
Jenson Button Position: DNF
"Everyone can say 'what if'? I was running fifth ahead of Raikkonen when I went off and we were fuelled to the finish, so if I hadn't made that mistake, who knows? But then I guess there are a lot of other people who can say the same thing. The car was working well, the tyres were good and we had the right strategy. On that corner, the water runs off the banking on to the circuit, so we were bound to get caught out there. I just caught the standing water a little too much. I tried to save it but that just sent me into the tyre wall. I went in quite heavily and my back is aching a little bit but, as we saw, it could have been much worse. It's disappointing but that's the way it goes."