French GP: BAR Friday qualifying notes

A solid first qualifying lap from Jacques Villeneuve earned him the seventh fastest time today and helped to restore some of the feel- good factor to Lucky Strike B*A*R Honda after a difficult start to the team's French Grand Prix ...

A solid first qualifying lap from Jacques Villeneuve earned him the seventh fastest time today and helped to restore some of the feel- good factor to Lucky Strike B*A*R Honda after a difficult start to the team's French Grand Prix weekend.

Following the seizure of B*A*R's cars and equipment yesterday, the order was subsequently overturned this morning, but the decision came too late for the team to be able to participate in this morning's free practice session.

As a result, both drivers had only an out-lap with which to familarise themselves with the newly reprofiled Magny-Cours circuit before commencing their single qualifying laps. Team-mate Jenson Button was less lucky, falling victim to the changing weather conditions to end the day 20th.

Jenson and Jacques will line up first and 14th for tomorrow's final qualifying session, for which weather reports are predicting a full day of dry running.

Jacques Villeneuve:

"I'm quite happy with my lap under the circumstances. It's been a frustrating day but there wasn't anything I could do so I just had to work with what I had in a single lap. We started with a good set-up so that was a bonus and all the work we've done at other tracks in the wet certainly helped us today."

"It's very hard to produce a great lap when you have no knowledge of how the car is going to react, how it will be under braking and, actually, where is the optimum braking point. There were also some really greasy parts of the track which I was discovering for the first time today. You're never going to be on the limit when you're still finding your way and have three new corners to get to grips with. Hopefully we can settle down to do some proper set-up work tomorrow to prepare for final qualifying."

Jenson Button:

"Today has obviously been quite difficult for us; the track was drying, we hadn't been able to evaluate the tyre options this morning and there is a whole new section of the track to familiarise ourselves with, all of which would be challenging even without us having missed the whole of the morning session because of the legal situation. We didn't know how much grip there was going to be on the track generally but specifically in the three new corners, so we decided to be quite conservative with the tyre choice and opted for the extreme wet."

"In hindsight that was obviously the wrong choice but we had nothing to base our decision on and we felt that tyre would get up to temperature much more quickly. There is nothing we could have done about today though so we just have to put it behind us now and make the most of the remaining running in preparation for a better final qualifying session tomorrow."

David Richards, Team Principal:

"Jacques made the very best of a difficult situation to record an excellent lap time, especially when you consider that he had not seen the new part of the track before. The fact that he ended up seventh was obviously a reflection of the track getting faster, but nonetheless it was a great performance. On the other hand, Jenson was on the track earlier and in hindsight on the wrong tyres. We opted for the extreme wets given that he also had not had any running time this morning but unfortunately this proved to be the wrong call."

Geoffrey Willis, Technical Director:

"Unfortunately we didn't get any running this morning so qualifying was always going to be a challenge for the drivers, this being their first timed lap on the modified circuit. The track was steadily drying and after some debate we decided to send Jenson out on extreme wet tyres, whereas in fact it was probably just ready for normal wet tyres. Clearly our choice was compromised by not being able to run this morning."

"We did not have a good balance with his car and unfortunately he was unable to get a representative time. By contrast, Jacques rose to the challenge well to post the provisional fastest time on wet tyres on a drying track and was only beaten by six of the following runners who benefited from the rapidly drying track. The rest of the weekend promises to be dry which will help us to minimize the effect of the loss of running time this morning, when the track was mainly wet."

Shuhei Nakamoto, Engineering Director, Honda Racing Development

"We've got one driver going out right at the start of the session and one in the final third, so hopefully we'll be able to take advantage of whatever the weather throws at us tomorrow. We have to put this morning behind us and make sure we get the most out of the cars for the remainder of the weekend."

Jacques Villeneuve
Chassis: BAR Honda 005-3
Position: 7th
Lap time: 1:24.651

Jenson Button
Chassis: BAR Honda 005-4
Position: 20th
Lap time: 1:30.731

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Jenson Button , Jacques Villeneuve , David Richards , Shuhei Nakamoto