French GP: Honda Saturday notes

B.A.R HONDA DRIVER SECURES SIXTH ROW SPOT Panis, Villeneuve and Sato qualify 11th, 13th and 14th for French Grand Prix Lucky Strike B.A.R Honda's Olivier Panis qualified in 11th position for tomorrow's grid of the French Grand Prix to start the...

Panis, Villeneuve and Sato qualify 11th, 13th and 14th for French Grand Prix

Lucky Strike B.A.R Honda's Olivier Panis qualified in 11th position for tomorrow's grid of the French Grand Prix to start the race as the leading Honda-powered car while his team-mate Jacques Villeneuve will start from 13th place. DHL Jordan Honda's Takuma Sato qualified in 14th position. Giancarlo Fisichella was advised by Professor Sid Watkins not to take part in qualifying following his accident during this morning's second practice session.

Jordan Honda's Takuma Sato was the first of the Honda quartet to take to the track, going out early in the qualifying hour at Magny-Cours. He was followed 10 minutes later by Olivier Panis (B.A.R Honda) while team-mate Jacques Villeneuve waited twenty minutes before going out for his first run. All three drivers completed four runs of three laps and enjoyed a trouble-free session.

B.A.R Honda's Olivier Panis and Jacques Villeneuve both set their best lap on their final outings, Panis finishing the day as the fastest Honda powered driver by setting a best time of 1m13.457s, which was over a second faster than his first attack, placing him in 11th position on the sixth row of the grid. Villeneuve will start from 13th on the grid, setting a best time of 1m13.506s and improving on his first run by just over a second. The Canadian pulled over at the end of the session due to a problem with his exhaust.

Jordan Honda's Takuma Sato finished in 14th position with a best time of 1m13.542s, setting his fastest time on his third of four outings, improving on his initial timed lap by six tenths of a second.

Following his accident during this morning's second practice session, Jordan Honda's Giancarlo Fisichella was examined by Professor Sid Watkins in the medical centre and was advised not to participate in today's qualifying session. Fisichella was flown by air ambulance to hospital in Nevers for full medical checks where scan results showed no serious injuries. Due to the force of the impact Professor Watkins has advised Fisichella not to take part in the race tomorrow.

The magnificent weather continued (27 degrees) at Magny-Cours as Juan Pablo Montoya (Williams) snatched pole position from Ferrari's Michael Schumacher. Rubens Barrichello (Ferrari) and McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen will start from third and fourth positions while Ralf Schumacher (Williams) and David Coulthard (McLaren) complete the top six grid positions.

Shuhei Nakamoto Race and Test Team Manager, Honda Racing Development

"It's been a tough day and the conditions didn't really suit us, but it was a very close session - ten drivers are separated by just one second - and although we just missed qualifying in the top ten, the times aren't that far off the pace. We've had positive feedback about the engine from the drivers and I think we're making progress. We're all very pleased to hear that Giancarlo didn't suffer any serious injuries after such a big accident this morning and we hope everything's okay."

Olivier Panis Position: 11th

"We had a good qualifying session today. We worked with the revised engine throughout the session and improved the car quite a bit during the hour, so the team did a great job. I pushed hard on the last run and, using all my experience, I was able to put in a good lap. When we compared the times we had gained a second between the first and last run. Our tyres aren't as competitive in qualifying at this circuit but we know that the Bridgestone tyres will perform better during the race, so we will have to see what tomorrow brings."

Jacques Villeneuve Position: 13th

"Honda have provided us with two of the latest evolution engines this weekend and Olivier and I have been working to different strategies. I didn't use mine in free practice this morning so I could keep it for qualifying and the race. As usual, we should be better off tomorrow and even a little extra bhp can make a difference at this circuit. We should also benefit when tyre degradation becomes a problem for other teams."

Takuma Sato Position: 14th

"We thought temperatures would go up during the session so we decided to go out early. Each attack was very consistent with small improvements each time. But the midfield is very competitive and unfortunately I lost places in the last few minutes. Until then I was tenth so I'm a little bit disappointed, although I think I did all I could."

Giancarlo Fisichella Position: DNQ

"I don't remember what happened. I know I lost the front wing but I don't know why. I feel alright, I just have a slight headache and some neck pain. The doctor told me it's not possible for me to race because of the very big deceleration I experienced in the accident, so I'm going to rest in preparation for Hockenheim."


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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Giancarlo Fisichella , Takuma Sato , Ralf Schumacher , Rubens Barrichello , David Coulthard , Olivier Panis , Jacques Villeneuve , Kimi Raikkonen , Shuhei Nakamoto
Teams Ferrari , McLaren , Williams , Jordan