Hockenheim was the scene of the most closely-fought qualifying session of the season. The entire grid was separated by two seconds in Q1 and the Honda Racing F1 Team improved its RA108 cars with each run. Jenson Button qualified 14th improving on...
Hockenheim was the scene of the most closely-fought qualifying session of the season. The entire grid was separated by two seconds in Q1 and the Honda Racing F1 Team improved its RA108 cars with each run. Jenson Button qualified 14th improving on recent form, while Rubens Barrichello will line up in 18th for tomorrow's German Grand Prix.
Grip levels had changed a lot between this morning's final practice session and the start of qualifying, primarily due to the blustery wind conditions. As a result, both Honda drivers took to the track early in Q1 to ascertain what changes needed to be made to their cars. They set their fastest laps of Q1 in the dying moments of the session. Jenson's effort of 1:15.993s placed him 15th and just 0.1s shy of a place inside the top 10; Rubens was 0.2s slower than his team-mate but back in 18th place.
Having progressed through to Q2, Jenson completed two runs and improved with each lap. His best lap was a 1:15.701s, which placed him 14th and just 0.3s shy of a place in the top 10. The team will now focus on strategy for tomorrow's race, ahead of what should be a thrilling 67-lap race.
Weather: Fine with sunny spells
Q. How was your qualifying today?
A. "Realistically we got the best out of the car today, although it is frustrating that we were not quite able to put a complete lap together. On my first run in Q2, the tyres were graining during the last sector, so we tried to look after them on my second run. Unfortunately that meant that they did not work fully in the first sector, putting me two-tenths down on my best lap time halfway round the lap. Once the tyres started working well in the middle sector I was able to gain all of the time back and improve my lap time. So it's a little bit disappointing. However we improved all the way through qualifying today and have generally been working well over the weekend. It's a nice feeling as I haven't felt totally confident with the car for the last couple of races."
Q. A disappointing qualifying position today, although the times were close in the midfield?
A. "The last time that I started 18th on the grid at Hockenheim I won the race in 2000, so you never know what might happen tomorrow! Realistically the car was just not quick enough in a very competitive midfield today. We were losing a couple of tenths in the first sector but it was the long middle sector that really cost us time. We are having to run a compromised downforce set-up because of the straights and that then impacts the third sector through the stadium complex, so it is difficult to hook up a consistently good lap time. We are so close to the limit of the car's performance that if you don't quite get it right, you can lose a lot of places, and that's what happened today. I'm not sure that it is going to rain tomorrow but that's what we need to have a good race."
Head of Race & Test Engineering
Q. You appear to have made good progress from yesterday's practice, particularly with Jenson?
A. "We have made progress overnight and improved the car from yesterday by adapting the set-up to the prevailing conditions. This is the case for Rubens and Jenson as their pace was very similar during qualifying today. Rubens lost time in turn 6 on his final run which cost him a place in Q2. Jenson's 14th position was the maximum that we could have achieved the car today, but we are pleased to have had one car progress to Q2."
Q. What are your expectations for the race tomorrow?
A. "With both cars starting fairly well back from the start, there is an increased risk of incidents on the first lap and it will be difficult to gain positions. We do not expect any rain during the race tomorrow so the drivers will have to be patient and take the opportunities which may arise during the race. The track seems very inconsistent with a number of mistakes evident so far this weekend. With this, and the fact that the grid is very close in the midfield, there will be many cars fighting over the points positions."