Jenson Button was the first of the Honda Racing F1 Team's drivers home in today's inaugural European Grand Prix at Valencia. After starting the race in 16th place, he drove a determined race on a one-stop strategy to finish in 13th position....
Jenson Button was the first of the Honda Racing F1 Team's drivers home in today's inaugural European Grand Prix at Valencia. After starting the race in 16th place, he drove a determined race on a one-stop strategy to finish in 13th position. Rubens Barrichello, on the same strategy, came home in 16th place.
Both drivers enjoyed good first laps. Jenson, starting on the dirty side of the grid, managed to find traction where others did not and made up a couple of places into Turn 2. By the end of the lap he was up to 13th position. Rubens had to wait for the field to pass the pitlane exit before being released to start his race. He caught the backmarkers immediately and by the end of the opening lap he was up to 17th, ahead of David Coulthard.
With overtaking proving more difficult than anticipated on the Valencia Street Circuit, there were few changes to the order except during the pitstops. Jenson climbed up to 11th place by the time of his only stop of the race on lap 29. Rubens pitted one lap later from 16th position and one of the pleasing aspects of this race for the team was that his handling problems from yesterday were greatly improved.
After a weekend of unfulfilled promise in Valencia, the Honda Racing F1 Team moves to Monza next week for a three-day test session. The race drivers will share the driving duties, before heading to Spa Francorchamps for the next race on 7 September.
Q. Tell us about your race today Jenson.
A. "I had a good start to the race and gained three places to 13th but that was the highlight of my race really. We made things difficult for ourselves by qualifying so far back on the grid after we had expected to perform a lot better. I was heavily fuelled compared to most others and running long on a one-stop strategy, but I was stuck behind Heidfeld when he had already pitted which cost me some time as I didn't have the pace to overtake him. We ran the option tyre for the second stint, which was initially fine but then the rears went away quite badly due to the rear brakes overheating."
Q. A disappointing end to a frustrating weekend for you. How was the car in the race today?
A. "After qualifying, we took the opportunity to start from the pit lane and work on the car to try and resolve the issues that we had yesterday. We changed the brakes completely so the car was very different to drive but it did improve a little bit during the race. We need to get to the bottom of the brake problems that we have had all weekend as these cost me a lot of time and positions. It was a poor weekend overall."
ROSS BRAWN, Team Principal
Q. A disappointing end to a weekend that began with so much promise. Sum up the team's race today?
A. "Jenson got a good start and was able to make up three places during the first lap, however the midfield was quite close today and with a heavy fuel load he was unable to progress through the field. Starting Rubens from the pit lane was the right decision as he benefited from the melée at Turn 2 and ended up being further up the field than he would otherwise have been. Contrary to expectation though there was relatively low attrition with only three cars failing to finish and no safety cars, which meant there were no real opportunities to take advantage of."
Q. What can you do to improve for the next race in Spa?
A. "Fundamentally we have improved the car over the August break and we saw clear signs of that progress in free practice. We didn't make the most of that when it counted this weekend and we suffered in qualifying and the race as a result. So our first priority will be to understand where we failed and make sure we have a more robust approach for Spa and beyond. We have a three-day test in Monza next week where we will focus on getting the most out of our recent developments."