B.A.R HONDA'S JENSON BUTTON CLAIMS FIFTH PODIUM FINISH Button races to third place at the NÃ¼rburgring as Sato retires on lap 48 Lucky Strike B.A.R Honda's Jenson Button raced to a strong third place in this afternoon's European Grand Prix, to...
B.A.R HONDA'S JENSON BUTTON CLAIMS FIFTH PODIUM FINISH
Button races to third place at the Nürburgring as Sato retires on lap 48
Lucky Strike B.A.R Honda's Jenson Button raced to a strong third place in this afternoon's European Grand Prix, to claim his fifth podium finish from seven Grands Prix starts this season. Team-mate Takuma Sato drove a truly inspired race but was forced out of the action with just 12 laps to go when his engine failed on lap 48.
Jenson Button didn't get a great start in his B.A.R Honda 006, falling back one place from fifth on the grid. Seconds after the lights went out, the Briton touched the Williams of Ralf Schumacher on the straight, who in turn hit team-mate Juan Pablo Montoya, and the Colombian then collected Toyota's Cristiano Da Matta as he spun.
With a less than smooth start out of the way, he had nonetheless moved up to P3 by lap 11 as those ahead of him pitted. Button came in for his first of three stops on lap 11, one of the last of the three-stoppers to do so, rejoining in sixth behind Christian Klien. Three laps later the Jaguar driver pitted and Button moved up to fifth behind David Coulthard's McLaren. The B.A.R Honda driver pulled off a dramatic overtaking manoeuvre past the Scot on lap 19 and was then on a charge to catch the top three.
Once the second pit stop sequence was completed on lap 30 Button remained in fourth place ahead of the Renault pairing of Jarno Trulli and Fernando Alonso. The British racer's final stop came on lap 45 and he looked good for fourth place until team-mate Sato's retirement on lap 48 moved him up to a potential third position. Button, who was now chasing Barrichello as Sato had been, closed the gap to the Ferrari to 3.6 seconds, and went on to cross the line third, scoring his fifth podium finish from seven races this season.
Starting from a career best front row, Sato shot off the grid, holding P2 out of turn one but he ran wide at turn four and fell back to fourth place, slotting in behind Alonso. By lap 10 the Japanese star was leading the race, as Michael Schumacher (Ferrari) and Alonso pitted and McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen retired from the action. Two laps later saw the Honda-powered driver pit for his first of three scheduled stops, four laps after the German, rejoining in third position behind the Ferrari of Rubens Barrichello, who himself pitted on lap 15, clearly on a different strategy to Sato, tucking in behind the Japanese driver when he rejoined the race action.
The next stint saw a class performance from Sato as he pulled away from the two-stopping Brazilian and put in a series of consistently quick laps before pitting on lap 26, and again getting back on track in third place behind Barrichello. Three laps later the B.A.R Honda racer was just one second shy of Barrichello and after another superb eight lap stretch was breathing down the Brazilian's neck, moving up to P2 when the Ferrari driver pitted on lap 39.
Sato's final scheduled stop came at the same time as race leader Michael Schumacher on lap 44, the Honda-powered driver rejoining in third and on a charge to reel in second placed Barrichello. On the next lap, the B.A.R Honda ace tried a move through turn one but hit the Brazilian's Ferrari and had to pit for a new nosecone and front wing, ruining his chances of scoring the first podium finish of his career. With a solid two-car points finish in sight for B.A.R Honda, Sato was forced out of the action with just 12 laps to go when his engine failed on lap 48.
In perfect weather conditions Michael Schumacher won the 60 lap European Grand Prix and was joined on the podium by Ferrari team-mate Rubens Barrichello and B.A.R Honda's Jenson Button. The Renault duo of Jarno Trulli and Fernando Alonso finished fourth and fifth while Giancarlo Fisichella (Sauber), Mark Webber (Jaguar) and Juan Pablo Montoya (Williams) crossed the line sixth, seventh and eighth.
Jenson Button Position: 3rd
"Considering the problem I've had with grip throughout the weekend, 3rd place is a great result for me. Obviously this podium was slightly more lucky than the other four but a podium nonetheless. It was a tough race and I had problems with traffic again."
"I had to get past David (Coulthard) because he was holding me up by 2 seconds a lap. Fortunately for me he made a mistake in the last corner and I was able to pass him on the outside - a little bit brave maybe but it paid off. This was obviously Taku's shot at the podium but it is good that we have one trophy to celebrate Honda's 40th Anniversary Race."
Takuma Sato Position: DNF
"I am extremely disappointed, ending the way I did with engine failure. Today the car was very strong and although I lost my position at the start, I regained it again at turn one. Throughout the race I was fighting all the time, and when I came out of my last pit stop on new tyres I had a lot of grip and felt confident that I could challenge Rubens in the Ferrari, but I saw the opportunity to get past Rubens but unfortunately we touched."
"At least I had a strong race, the pace of the car was good and it could have been a very good result for me. Now we have to look forward. I am expecting a good test at Silverstone and am looking forward to Montreal and Indianapolis."
Shuhei Nakamoto - Engineering Director, Honda Racing Development:
"Another bitter sweet day for us. We showed real strength today and seemed to be in a position to get a better result. Congratulations to Jenson for another podium and commiserations to Takuma. We must continue to challenge as hard as we can if we are to get the wins we want."