Japanese GP: BAR race notes

Lucky Strike B.A.R Honda are thrilled to be celebrating fifth place in the 2003 Formula One Constructors' Championship today after Jenson Button and Takuma Sato secured a two-car points finish in a thrilling climax to the season in the ...

Lucky Strike B.A.R Honda are thrilled to be celebrating fifth place in the 2003 Formula One Constructors' Championship today after Jenson Button and Takuma Sato secured a two-car points finish in a thrilling climax to the season in the Japanese Grand Prix.

The team came to Suzuka needing two points more than its closest competitors and instead came away with eight after one of Jenson's best performances of the season and a fantastic debut for Takuma with his new team.

Jenson Button

"That was incredible! We came here fighting for two points and came away with eight, which is just amazing. We really deserved this result today and to finally secure fifth place in the Championship is a great way for the team to finish the season. It was a very tough race though. I got a great start and took Webber on the outside, which was very important for us at that stage as we didn't know what strategy they were running. I had two perfect pitstops and after that it was just a question of conserving everything and staying as consistent as possible, because it's hard to keep your concentration here. It was nice to lead again for the second race in a row - even if it was only briefly on this occasion."

"Takuma has been under a lot of pressure all weekend and he rose above it. I'd like to thank Honda for a fantastic race engine and all the race team for a great job this weekend, especially in the pitstops today. I'd also like to pay tribute to the team back at base for sticking with it during a very difficult year. This is a great boost for all of us for the winter."

Takuma Sato

"I'm absolutely thrilled. Racing here this weekend came as a total surprise but to finish sixth and play a part in securing fifth place in the Championship is just amazing. And all in front of my home crowd! I made a great start and jumped two places off the grid, then I managed to pass Wilson and Webber, which was important for the team. I had a close call with Michael in the chicane, but I had the line and he came up on the inside of me. This is a great way to start my racing career with B.A.R and now I can't wait for the start of the next season. I'd like to thank everyone from the team and Honda for making my return to racing so successful."

David Richards , Team Principal

"This is just fantastic! To have this result at Honda's home track, with Taku driving his first race with us is amazing. Jenson had one of his best races, driving with real maturity, and showed he had the pace of the top teams. We had an excellent race set-up and a perfect fuel strategy, which leapfrogged us over Saturday's light fuel teams. I like to think that this weekend's performance is significant in a number of ways, and going into the winter break, gives us the confidence that the changes we have made are all positive. Both Honda and ourselves have ambitious plans for next year and we will be pushing very hard when testing resumes in November."

Geoffrey Willis , Technical Director

"I am very pleased that in the closing race of the season we have been able to demonstrate the real potential of the team. Both Takuma and Jenson drove perfect races, the team's strategy was perfect and both cars ran faultlessly. I would also thank Bridgestone for providing a strong tyre this weekend. Although we have lost far too many points this year, this race has allowed us to take 5th place in the championship, which is a true reflection of the performance of the package. This has given everyone at B.A.R and Honda just the boost that we need to drive us hard over the winter and prepare for the 2004 season."

Shuhei Nakamoto , Engineering Director, Honda Racing Development

"A great way to end the season, especially in front of our home crowd. Both our guys were really strong out there and our strategy worked perfectly. Jenson pushed hard and showed good pace throughout the race and Taku coped brilliantly with the pressure of a home debut. I'm also very pleased that we secured fifth in the constructors' championship today - the car worked really well and the boys did a great job on all the stops. I want to use this as a springboard for next season."

Jenson Button
Position: 4th
Best lap: 1:34.605

Takuma Sato
Position: 6th
Best lap: 1:35.290

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Takuma Sato , Jenson Button , David Richards , Shuhei Nakamoto