European GP: Honda Friday qualifying notes

HONDA JUST OUTSIDE TOP TEN AT NURBURGRING Button finishes 11th in First Qualifying while Villeneuve spins off in rain Lucky Strike B*A*R Honda's Jenson Button finished 11th in today's first qualifying session for the European Grand Prix while ...

HONDA JUST OUTSIDE TOP TEN AT NURBURGRING
Button finishes 11th in First Qualifying while Villeneuve spins off in rain

Lucky Strike B*A*R Honda's Jenson Button finished 11th in today's first qualifying session for the European Grand Prix while Jacques Villeneuve failed to set a time due to spinning off in the rain.

Beautiful weather conditions greeted the drivers for their first free practice session this morning, the track temperature rising nine degrees to 28 by midday. Jenson Button completed 23 laps, setting a best time of 1m32.841s and finishing 15th at the end of the session. Jacques Villeneuve finished 17th overall with a time of 1m33.602s, covering 21 laps.

The weather conditions worsened and the track temperature dropped to 26 degrees as the first qualifying session got underway this afternoon. Ferrari's Michael Schumacher was first out on track as he is leading the drivers' championship. Button was out 10th in the running order for his one flying lap, half an hour into the session. The B*A*R Honda driver damaged the front wing of his B*A*R Honda 005 and struggled with understeer throughout the lap. The Briton set the 11th quickest time overall of 1m32.479s and as he completed his in lap rain began to fall.

Villeneuve was out on track 14th as the rain got heavier and the track temperature dropped to 20 degrees. It was almost impossible for the Canadian to find grip with his dry set up and intermediate tyres on an increasingly wet and slippery track. Almost a third of the way into his timed lap Villeneuve spun off into the gravel and therefore failed to set a time. For final qualifying tomorrow Villeneuve and Button will be out on track in first and tenth position respectively, as today's times dictate the running order for final qualifying on Saturday.

Kimi Raikkonen (McLaren) set a fastest lap of 1m29.989s around the 5.148km/3.199miles circuit, followed by Michael Schumacher (Ferrari) and Juan Pablo Montoya (Williams). Ralf Schumacher (Williams) and Ferrari's Rubens Barrichello finished fourth and fifth while McLaren's David Coulthard completes the top six.

Shuhei Nakamoto - Engineering Director, Honda Racing Development:

"We expected to have both guys in the top ten today but we obviously didn't achieve that. Jenson finished just outside in 11th which is not too bad considering the damage to his front wing. But unfortunately Jacques, who was already at a disadvantage because of the weather, didn't manage a competitive time either."

Jenson Button Position: 11th

"My lap had some potential but I made a mistake in the last sector; I hit the kerb too hard, then the bollard and broke the front wing. It's disappointing because I did the same thing this morning so I'm not particularly pleased with myself. Having said that we've seen before that bollards don't work and several people had the same problem as me today. The bollards just break front wings."

"I was lucky in the sense that it was only spitting with rain when I did my lap, whereas it was starting to come down hard by the time the last six or seven runners went out. I was pleased to see the rain though because I think we're going to need that. Hopefully it will be wet for final qualifying tomorrow."

Jacques Villeneuve Position: 20th

"Webber, da Matta and myself were the unlucky ones today as we were the first cars out on a wet track. When I did my lap we were only allowed to change to wet tyres but the later runners were able to put on extreme wets. Halfway round, the wheels weren't even touching the ground; I was just floating like a boat. Normally when you aquaplane it's only for a tenth of a second or something, but there it was all the way down."

"I'll be the first one to go out for qualifying tomorrow, which is never a good thing, so now we have to just keep working on the car as best we can and hope that the weather turns the same way as it did today. Our tyres aren't competitive here so that's the best we can hope for tomorrow."

-honda-

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