The Honda Racing F1 Team's Chinese Grand Prix ended pretty much as it began today with drivers Rubens Barrichello and Jenson Button locked together as they brought home a fourth consecutive double points finish for the team. Having started from...
The Honda Racing F1 Team's Chinese Grand Prix ended pretty much as it began today with drivers Rubens Barrichello and Jenson Button locked together as they brought home a fourth consecutive double points finish for the team. Having started from 3rd and 4th on the grid, they finally ended the 56-lap race with Jenson 4th and Rubens 6th after a race-long battle in the changeable wet-dry-wet conditions.
Two faultless pitstops for both drivers were well-timed to ensure a safe switch to dry tyres. Jenson had been struggling for grip in the latter part of the first stint, pitting much earlier than planned. At the same time, Rubens was really making up ground as his car and tyres were performing well. From the point of Jenson's first pitstop he was in his element, edging closer to his team-mate to produce some real 'edge-of-your-seat' racing for the fans. Both drivers sat tight on dry tyres as the rain started to fall again in the last few laps before Jenson seized the moment and passed first a McLaren, then his team-mate and finally a BMW in quick succession to secure a hard-fought 4th position.
After a real adrenaline buzz of a race in Shanghai, the team heads to Japan for its home Grand Prix next weekend, where it hopes to put on an equally exciting show for its legions of Honda fans.
"I'm really pleased to have finished where I started in 4th position. Initially the car felt really good; I was pulling away from the field well and staying in touch with the cars in front. Then I started to struggle with the rear tyres which were practically bald so I had to come in early for my first pitstop. I had no rear grip and because of that I was losing 3 seconds or more a lap. In the dry there was only one line and from that point I was just in my element really! It was a lot of fun and reminded me of the karting days when I won the European Championships back in 1997. Into the last corner I was in front of Rubens and De La Rosa and I came down the inside of Heidfeld, turned into the corner and when I looked into my mirrors I could see the people behind me were going straight on and into each other. There are a few areas where we are weak which we need to work on, but we are still fired up for our home race in Japan next weekend."
"My race was OK, although my car was better on the wet tyres than the 'slicks'. It was a real shame that my last lap was ruined and there were some problems with the backmarkers so I lost time and two positions. Heidfeld was forced to make an avoiding manoeuvre in turn 2 but I was there on the track already and we touched, which damaged my front wing. With the resulting loss of front downforce, I lost more time over the remainder of that final lap. There was more confusion at the hairpin, and again Heidfeld and I came together, but I managed to recover to finish the race. 4th and 6th is another good team result. We are looking competitive for our home race next weekend when I hope we can secure another good team result in front of the Japanese crowd."
Gil de Ferran, Sporting Director:
"What an exciting race! Although we didn't get the podium we were hoping for, having Jenson and Rubens in the points again is a good result for us considering the unpredictable and difficult conditions. After a good start from both drivers, the first issue we encountered was when Jenson started suffering an imbalance which was costing him a lot of time towards the latter half of his first stint. As a result we brought him in earlier than scheduled to change the tyres. Rubens wasn't suffering with the same issues and we retained the same set of tyres on his first stop. The track was taking a long time to dry out and we just about hit the right time to change to dry tyres when both drivers had to come in for their second stop. From then on, Jenson and Rubens were not only fighting each other but they were also challenging Heidfeld ahead as well as being pursued by De La Rosa. This fight culminated in a very exciting last few laps when it started drizzling with rain and they all shuffled positions. In the end this was a good result for us and hopefully we can go one step further in front of our home crowd in Japan."