Japanese GP: Honda Saturday qualifying notes

HONDA DRIVER QUALIFIES NINTH AT SUZUKA Button and Sato qualify ninth and 13th for Japanese Grand Prix B*A*R Honda's Jenson Button qualified in ninth place for tomorrow's grid of the Japanese Grand Prix to start the race from the fifth row ...

HONDA DRIVER QUALIFIES NINTH AT SUZUKA
Button and Sato qualify ninth and 13th for Japanese Grand Prix

B*A*R Honda's Jenson Button qualified in ninth place for tomorrow's grid of the Japanese Grand Prix to start the race from the fifth row while team-mate Takuma Sato will start in 13th place.

The overcast skies looked threatening all morning and sure enough light rain started to fall in the hour before final qualifying. The rain had stopped and the track was dry by the time Minardi's Nicolas Kiesa made his way on to Suzuka circuit for the last final qualifying session of the season. The air and track temperatures registered 21 and 24 degrees respectively.

Button went out fifth to complete his one flying lap, twelve minutes in to the session. The Briton ran wide during the second and third sectors, struggling with understeer, and recorded a time of 1m33.474s, finally qualifying in ninth position for tomorrow's race.

Sato took to the track tenth in the running order, almost half way through the session. The Japanese driver ran wide and locked up in the final sector and recorded a time of 1m33.924s, qualifying him in 13th place on the grid after all the runs were completed.

To spice up the session it started to spit with rain as the final five prepared to qualify. Ralf Schumacher spun his Williams in the wet and Renault's Jarno Trulli decided to abort his lap, so both drivers will start from pit lane. Ferrari's Michael Schumacher also suffered in the rain and will line up alongside Takuma Sato in 14th place.

Rubens Barrichello (Ferrari) will start the race from pole position alongside Juan Pablo Montoya (Williams). They will be followed by Cristiano Da Matta and Olivier Panis (Toyota) while Renault's Fernando Alonso and Jaguar's Mark Webber will line up fifth and sixth on the grid.

Shuhei Nakamoto - Engineering Director, Honda Racing Development :

"Another good effort from Jenson and Taku. The conditions obviously played a part in qualifying today and may well affect the race tomorrow. We have to take every opportunity we get to secure fifth place in the constructors' championship in front of our home crowd."

Jenson Button Position: 9th

"I was a little bit on the edge there and overcooked it in a couple of places, particularly in the second Degna where I went right over the kerb, so I lost a bit of time there. We needed to pull out a fast one though and get the best out of the car, and that's what we've got to do to get the grid position. My set-up wasn't ideal going into warm-up and we had to work quite hard during that session to make it better. It's still not ideal but I'm quite pleased with the lap overall and it was a lot of fun. The most important thing now is to give it everything we've got in the race in order to win back fifth in the Championship."

Takuma Sato Position: 13th

"That was a little difficult for me. The important thing was to stay close to Jenson and I'm quite pleased with where I ended up. I did make a couple of mistakes which cost me a couple of tenths. Most importantly I didn't make a big mistake so I'm quite confident for the race. Contrary to what many people think, I'm not as familiar with Suzuka as most of the current drivers. Before 2002, the last time I raced here was in 1998, and prior to that I only ever raced here in school series. With the latest changes to the circuit, I'm still learning as much as the other drivers - more so, of course, because I haven't raced for a year. I have a huge amount of support here though and I'm really looking forward to tomorrow."

-honda-

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Juan Pablo Montoya
Teams Ferrari , Williams , Minardi