German GP: Honda race notes

JORDAN HONDA'S SATO SCORES HIS SEASON BEST FINISH Sato races to eighth position in German Grand Prix DHL Jordan Honda's Takuma Sato crossed the line eighth in today's German Grand Prix while team-mate Giancarlo Fisichella and fellow ...

Sato races to eighth position in German Grand Prix

DHL Jordan Honda's Takuma Sato crossed the line eighth in today's German Grand Prix while team-mate Giancarlo Fisichella and fellow Honda-powered driver Olivier Panis stopped on lap 61 and 40 respectively with engine problems. His Lucky Strike B.A.R Honda team-mate Jacques Villeneuve was forced out of the action on lap 28 due to a gearbox problem.

Jordan Honda's Takuma Sato had an incident filled race but managed to bring the car home in eighth place, his best result of the year. Although Sato lost one place at the start and ultimately ended lap two in 14th place, the young Japanese driver fought back into 12th position by first following Villeneuve past Jenson Button (Renault) moving him up to 13th place and 10 laps later reclaiming 12th spot from Villeneuve.

By lap 22 Sato had gained three further places following the pit stops of Renault's Jarno Trulli and the Saubers of Felipe Massa and Nick Heidfeld. He came in from ninth place for his first stop on lap 26 and by lap 30 as the first round of pit stops unfolded settled in 10th position. Sato moved back up into ninth place on lap 37 when McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen pulled into the pits with a puncture and by lap 43 Sato had gained two places following the departure of Panis and the pit stop of Massa. Having completed his second scheduled pit stop on lap 45, Sato rejoined the action in eighth position and drove hard for the remaining 22 laps, crossing the line in eighth place from 12th on the grid and securing his best finish of the year.

The two-stopping Jordan Honda of Giancarlo Fisichella and B.A.R Honda of Olivier Panis fell back two places off the grid to eighth and ninth positions respectively, ahead of Massa and Heidfeld. The Honda-powered pair remained in these positions until lap 12, when Fisichella ran wide, letting Panis and Massa through and dropping back to 10th place. Just three laps later the Italian moved up into ninth as he overtook Trulli, who had already lost a place to Massa, and by lap 26 Fisichella was back up to his sixth place starting position as the first round of pit stops took place.

A combination of a sticking wheel nut and a clutch problem caused a lengthy first pit stop for Fisichella on lap 28, rejoining the action in 13th place behind Mika Salo (Toyota). The Italian challenged Salo for 12th position on lap 33, but ran wide at the hairpin allowing the Finn to sneak back through. By lap 40 Fisichella was up into eighth, following Raikkonen's puncture, the departure of Trulli and Panis and the pit stops of Salo and Massa. Five laps later Fisichella came in for his second scheduled pit stop and rejoined in 10th place, only to retire from the race on lap 61 with engine failure.

Having lost two places at the start, B.A.R Honda's Olivier Panis had moved up two spots to seventh position by lap 13 by overtaking Fisichella and Trulli. Panis held seventh place until lap 26 when he came in for his first pit stop and by lap 30 when the pit stop sequence was completed, the Frenchman was back in seventh position ahead of Massa. Seven laps later Panis moved up into a potential point scoring position as Raikkonen departed with a puncture. Just a handful of laps later the race was over for the B.A.R Honda driver as he span off the track and stopped due to engine failure on lap 40.

B.A.R Honda's Jacques Villeneuve lost four places to 15th at the start but by the end of lap two the Canadian had moved up into 13th, having taken Eddie Irvine (Jaguar) and Sato. Four laps later the B.A.R Honda driver snatched 12th place from Jenson Button, which he held until lap 16 when Sato overtook him. By lap 22 Villeneuve had gained three places to 10th position, as Trulli, Massa and Heidfeld all pitted. On lap 25 Villeneuve came in for his first of two scheduled pit stops, only to retire from the race three laps later due to gearbox failure.

In warm and sunny conditions at Hockenheim (30 degrees) Ferrari's Michael Schumacher took the chequered flag, finishing ahead of the Williams of Juan Pablo Montoya and Ralf Schumacher. Rubens Barrichello (Ferrari) and McLaren's David Coulthard finished fourth and fifth while Sauber's Nick Heidfeld completes the top six positions.

Shuhei Nakamoto - Race and Test Team Manager, Honda Racing Development

"A disappointing result for the Honda-powered drivers after such a good qualifying session yesterday and competitive lap times in warm up this morning with three of our drivers in the top five. Takuma drove a good race and this is his best result of the year so this has been a good day for him. We've learnt a lot this weekend and the drivers have given us positive feedback about our step up. Although we lost two engines today we now have three weeks to balance the increase in power with greater reliability."

Takuma Sato Position: 8th

"Eighth is my best finish so far which is a great result for me. It's a shame it wasn't inside the points, but I am getting closer. I had an exciting race, overtaking a couple of people with some dramatic moves, which was really enjoyable. The pit stop strategy worked well. At the end of the race I lost some stability with the car, but I kept going. Looking forward, our good form is a promising sign and points are my next target."

Giancarlo Fisichella Position: DNF

"I had a problem with the clutch on my first pit stop and then the team had trouble with the right front wheel, so I lost quite a lot of time. The car was driving quite well so it's a shame. I am disappointed about having to retire this time but we are getting better so I'm looking ahead to the next race."

Olivier Panis Position: DNF

"Obviously I'm very disappointed not to finish after such a good weekend. I lost a couple of places at the start but then I worked hard to regain them. My race was a great fight from beginning to end and, after making my way through the traffic, I was improving all the time. The car felt fine until my first pitstop but then I felt something wrong and we now know it was the engine. It's a real shame because we've been very competitive here. I was very happy to qualify 7th and today, sitting in our best grid position of the season, I had a good feeling."

"I was in the points when my race ended so we'll never know how well things could have turned out. Most importantly, we've seen a good step forward from Honda here. The car has been quick all weekend and I'm sure if we can solve the problems we can look forward to five good races ahead. As usual, the team have done a great job and I hope they enjoy the break. I'm looking forward to a relaxing holiday and some time with my family before preparing for the Hungarian Grand Prix in three weeks."

Jacques Villeneuve Position: DNF

"As a team we've been very competitive but it's a disappointing end to a difficult weekend here for me. The car had a lot of oversteer until the first pitstop but after we changed the tyres it felt a lot better. My race really got going then and I could start to attack. We were relatively quick compared to the people we were racing and I started to make up places, but then I had a gearbox problem and my race was over. We've seen some good signs this weekend though. The engine was working well here so let's hope we can continue to improve during the rest of the season. The team have been working hard all year so they deserve a break now. There's still some work to be done to prepare for the next race but it gives everyone a bit of down-time. Hungary is a very physical race so, as well as enjoying a holiday with Elly, there's a lot of preparation ahead with my trainer Erwin."


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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Juan Pablo Montoya
Teams Ferrari , Sauber , McLaren , Williams , Jordan