Lucky Strike B*A*R Honda's Jenson Button opened the team's 2003 points account with a hard-fought 7th place finish in today's Malaysian Grand Prix. He drove a committed race from start to finish, fending off pressure from Jarno Trulli's Renault...
Lucky Strike B*A*R Honda's Jenson Button opened the team's 2003 points account with a hard-fought 7th place finish in today's Malaysian Grand Prix. He drove a committed race from start to finish, fending off pressure from Jarno Trulli's Renault and the Ferrari of Michael Schumacher before being forced to yield in the final lap when progressive oversteer made his car too much of a handful. Jacques Villeneuve was unable to start the race due to an electrical problem which damaged his gearbox at the start of the parade lap.
"It was a very tiring race and the car was so difficult to drive. We were a lot slower than the Renault today and when the car is that hard to handle it's very difficult to stay in front. I had very low grip, not just on the rear but also on the front, and the oversteer got progressively worse towards the end; it just destroyed the tyres. I held off Jarno for as long as I could, then on the last corner I braked where I normally would and the rear just locked up. I went straight on and Michael was able to get through. It's very disappointing because I was fighting hard to hold on to 5th. We got some points though and that's the main thing so I'm optimistic for Brazil."
"A big disappointment as we concentrated all weekend on the race set- up and fuel strategy. We didn't look too good in qualifying but we were confident for the race. We couldn't show it though because of an electrical problem from the start. Bad luck, but that's life."
David Richards, Team Principal:
"A weekend of mixed emotions; clearly very disappointing for Jacques because I'm sure his race strategy would have led to a very solid result, but on the other hand the team can take encouragement from the overall performance of both cars. Jenson battled with the balance of his car throughout the race and was unfortunate to drop a couple of places on the last lap. But then again, we have a couple of points in the bag and a car that is clearly improving with every race."
Geoffrey Willis, Technical Director:
"A good result for the team in getting our first points of the season in a very tough race. Jenson put in a determined drive despite struggling with a difficult car. It was however very disappointing that Jacques was unable to start the race. Just before his car left the garage we had an electrical problem and then, at the start of the parade lap, the problem returned and damaged the gearbox so he was unable to make it off the grid. Although we've had excellent reliability for most of the weekend, we have struggled to get the best out of the car and tyres in these hot conditions. However, we go to Brazil optimistic that we can realise more of our potential."
Shuhei Nakamoto, Engineering Director, Honda Racing Development:
"What a frustrating day! I think Jenson did a very good job battling in the high temperatures right to the end and I'm very pleased that we have scored our first points of the year. I'm also encouraged for the future by the race pace we showed today. As always, it is a very tough race on the engine and I'm glad it made it to the end. This was obviously not a good day for Jacques but we're looking ahead to Brazil now where we know we can do better."
Jacques Villeneuve: DNS
Chassis: BAR Honda 005-2
Jenson Button: 7th
Chassis: BAR Honda 005-4
Best lap time: 1:38.413