HARD WEEKEND FOR HONDA DRIVERS Villeneuve and Button retire from race on lap 14 and 51 Lucky Strike B*A*R Honda's Jenson Button retired from the 25th Canadian Grand Prix on lap 51 due to gearbox failure while Jacques Villeneuve's race was over...
HARD WEEKEND FOR HONDA DRIVERS
Villeneuve and Button retire from race on lap 14 and 51
Lucky Strike B*A*R Honda's Jenson Button retired from the 25th Canadian Grand Prix on lap 51 due to gearbox failure while Jacques Villeneuve's race was over on lap 14 due to a brake fluid leak.
Warm temperatures and blue skies were the order of the day (air 20 degrees, track 29 degrees) in Montreal for the 70 lap race. B*A*R Honda's Jenson Button made up one place to 16th at the start and by lap five was running in 14th place behind Giancarlo Fisichella (Jordan). The Briton had fought his way up into sixth position by lap 22, from a qualifying position of 17th, as his fuel load decreased and the first round of pit stops was completed. Button came in for his first of two scheduled stops on lap 23, rejoining in 11th place.
By lap 38 Fisichella had retired from the action and Button was just three seconds off McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen, who had started the race from pit lane as he failed to set a time in final qualifying yesterday. Ten laps later the B*A*R Honda driver was running in eighth position as the second round of pit stops got underway. Lap 49 saw Button in for his second stop, rejoining in 11th place, and moving up into tenth as McLaren's David Coulthard retired. Button was catching Olivier Panis (Toyota) but just two laps later the race was over for the young Briton as he was forced to retire with gearbox failure.
Local hero Jacques Villeneuve got away well, making up three places off the grid to 11th and moving up another two places to ninth position by the end of lap two, slotting in behind McLaren's David Coulthard. The Canadian was on a charge but started to experience brake problems on lap 12 so he pitted on lap 14 for tyres, fuel and to check the brakes. When Villeneuve rejoined the action fluid started leaking from the rear callipers so he returned to the garage two laps later. The left rear calliper was then inspected and the team decided that Villeneuve should not carry on.
Michael Schumacher (Ferrari) took victory in Montreal, followed by the Williams duo of Ralf Schumacher and Juan Pablo Montoya. Renault's Fernando Alonso and Ferrari's Rubens Barrichello finished fourth and fifth while Kimi Raikkonen (McLaren) and Mark Webber (Jaguar) crossed the line sixth and seventh. The final point scoring position in a race with only ten finishers was taken by Olivier Panis (Toyota).
Shuhei Nakamoto - Engineering Director, Honda Racing Development:
"We had a really strong package here this weekend and I was looking forward to seeing the results. However, it was not to be. Today has been particularly tough on Jacques, being his home race, but it's also a shame that Jenson was forced out of the action. We'll be back fighting at the Nurburgring."
Jenson Button Position: DNF
"This was always going to be a difficult race for me given my grid position. The car felt good early on but I was stuck in a lot of traffic for most of the first stint. I got more and more understeer in the low-speed corners and it was impossible to overtake. The second stint was much better because I had clean air and I was catching Panis and da Matta but then I had a problem with 4th gear. I was trying to short-shift but gradually I lost fifth then sixth then seventh. It's a very disappointing end to a difficult weekend for the team. We had an improved package for this race and we were hopeful of better things, so I don't really know what happened here."
Jacques Villeneuve Position: DNF
"Obviously it's very disappointing to face yet another retirement. I had a good start and I'd moved up to ninth. The car felt really good, it was well balanced and it's a shame because we could easily have picked up some points today. Gradually I started to lose my brakes and the pedal was getting longer and longer. I came in for my pitstop and the team tried to pinpoint the problem and cool the brakes. I went back out for a lap but I had to come in again because by that time I had nothing under braking."
"Sometimes only seven cars finish a race so the team tried to fix the problem. They started to replace the left rear caliper and stop the leak but it was clear that our race was over. I've had mechanical problems in six out of eight races so it's becoming very frustrating now but we just have to keep working hard. I've had a lot of support here this weekend and it would have been nice to at least finish in front of my home crowd."