Italian GP: Honda race notes

OLIVIER PANIS RACES TO SIXTH AT MONZA Honda quartet power to the end in race of attrition Lucky Strike B.A.R Honda's Olivier Panis crossed the line in sixth place in today's Italian Grand Prix while Giancarlo Fisichella (DHL Jordan Honda) ...


Honda quartet power to the end in race of attrition

Lucky Strike B.A.R Honda's Olivier Panis crossed the line in sixth place in today's Italian Grand Prix while Giancarlo Fisichella (DHL Jordan Honda) finished eighth. Jordan Honda's Takuma Sato and Jacques Villeneuve (B.A.R Honda) finished in ninth and 12th positions respectively.

Monza enjoyed perfect race conditions today as the drivers were greeted by sunshine and a clear blue sky (25 degrees). The race got off to a dramatic start as Jarno Trulli stalled his Renault on the formation lap meaning the Italian had to start the race from the back of the grid.

B.A.R Honda's Olivier Panis made a great start, making up six places to 10th position and he gained another place by the end of lap one as McLaren's David Coulthard pitted for a new front wing. Panis moved up into eighth place on lap four when Ralf Schumacher (Williams) retired and two laps later the Frenchman overtook Toyota's Mika Salo for seventh place. Panis spent the next five laps all over the back of the second Toyota of Allan McNish, who pitted on lap 12 and then retired on the following lap, moving Panis up into sixth position. The B.A.R Honda driver came in for his first of two scheduled pit stops on lap 19.

Rejoining in 11th place he had moved up to seventh position by lap 31 as the first round of pit stops were completed and McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen retired. Just three laps later Panis was up into fifth as Juan Pablo Montoya (Williams) exited the race and Salo pitted for a drive through penalty for crossing the white line at the end of pit lane. Panis came in for his second pit stop on lap 41 from third place and rejoined in sixth position, a fraction ahead of fellow Honda-powered driver Fisichella. The Frenchman pushed hard and crossed the line in sixth position, from 16th on the grid, to score a well-earned point for himself and B.A.R Honda.

Jordan Honda's Giancarlo Fisichella, who qualified 12th on the grid, had a terrible start due to problems with launch control and fell back to 17th place but by the end of lap 12 he was up into 14th position. The one-stopping Italian gained another two places when Jaguar's Pedro De La Rosa and Sauber's Felipe Massa retired and by lap 18 he was in 12th place. As the first pit stop sequence unfolded and Raikkonen and Montoya exited the race, Fisichella moved up into fourth position, coming in for his one scheduled pit stop on lap 38 and rejoining in seventh place.

Coulthard gradually reeled in the Italian and managed to dive past him on lap 47. However, the McLaren driver made a mistake and had to cut across the chicane allowing Fisichella to regain his position. The Italian held Coulthard off for four laps but the Scot went on to overtake the Jordan Honda driver just two laps from the end of the race and Fisichella crossed the line in eighth position having started 12th on the grid.

B.A.R Honda's Jacques Villeneuve was in 10th position by the end of the first lap having started ninth on the grid and fell back to 13th place on lap three as he was overtaken by the Renaults of Jenson Button and Jarno Trulli. The Canadian had an uneventful first half of the race and by lap 24 was up into seventh position as the first round of pit stops was completed. Villeneuve came in for his one scheduled stop on lap 35 from fifth place and rejoined in 10th, moving up into eighth position when Fisichella pitted three laps later. The B.A.R Honda driver fought hard to hold off Coulthard but was overtaken on lap 42, finishing the race in ninth place.

The one-stopping Takuma Sato (Jordan Honda) who didn't get a good qualifying run yesterday due to the collision with Raikkonen, moved up one place to 17th at the start and by the end of the fourth lap he was in 16th position. Six laps later Sato lost a couple of places to 18th as he ran wide, but by lap 35 when the Japanese driver came in for his one scheduled pit stop he was up into 12th position. Sato rejoined the action in the same place and the Jordan Honda driver went on to finish in 12th place from 18th on the grid.

In hot and sunny weather conditions at Monza (25 degrees) Ferrari's Rubens Barrichello took the chequered flag, finishing ahead of team-mate Michael Schumacher and the Jaguar of Eddie Irvine. Renault's Jarno Trulli and Jenson Button finished fourth and fifth while B.A.R Honda's Olivier Panis completes the point scoring positions.

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

"Olivier did a great job to finish in sixth place from 16th on the grid. It's good to score another point and I'm happy that all four Honda-powered drivers made it to the end today. The engine has been reliable this weekend and we haven't had any problems. We've got to keep the momentum going for the last two races of the year."

Olivier Panis Position: 6th

"I'm absolutely delighted to finish 6th today. To get a point after starting 16th on the grid is fantastic for us. It was a tough race with plenty of action but I took the risk of a two-stop strategy and it worked for me. I spoke with the team ahead of the race and said that I wanted to be able to attack and be part of the race. I got an amazing start and gained 7 places so I knew then I had the potential for a great result."

"I had a lot of fun out there today and was able to make the most of the overtaking opportunities. The pit stops worked well for us with the mechanics doing their usual fantastic job to make sure we got out ahead of Fisichella. I'm really pleased for the team. Every point counts and it is a very important result for us at this stage of the season. I'm really looking forward to Indianapolis now. Honda will have more of the latest specification engine and, as we've seen, it looks very promising in terms of performance and reliability for the last two races."

Giancarlo Fisichella Position: 8th

"Unfortunately our launch control system is problematic and today I lost four or five positions at the start alone which is not good at all. I was having a decent race and pushing hard, which wasn't easy because I was so full with fuel. The car balance wasn't too bad and there was a real possibility for me to finish 4th or 5th but we lost our race and chance to score points just because of launch control."

Jacques Villeneuve Position: 9th

"This was a very disappointing race for me after such a good qualifying session yesterday. I didn't get a good start and I was stuck in the wrong part of the track with cars everywhere and lost places as a result. It was a tough call on strategy today and compared with most other times here we decided to try one stop. In the end, we were running too much wing and I couldn't get a good tow behind anyone down the straights. Congratulations to Olivier; he made the two-stop strategy work and got a well-deserved point out of it for the team."

Takuma Sato Position: 12th

"The beginning of the race was really hard. I honestly struggled to get on the pace. I found the car so difficult to drive and I lost a lot of time at the beginning. After the pit stop it was getting much better and I was comfortable for the last 15 laps or so. It was a tough race."


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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Eddie Irvine , Giancarlo Fisichella , Takuma Sato , Jarno Trulli , Jenson Button , Ralf Schumacher , Michael Schumacher , Rubens Barrichello , David Coulthard , Olivier Panis , Jacques Villeneuve , Allan McNish , Mika Salo , Felipe Massa , Shuhei Nakamoto
Teams Ferrari , Sauber , McLaren , Williams , Jordan