Malaysian GP: Honda Friday qualifying notes

HONDA SECURES TOP TEN SPOT IN FRIDAY QUALIFYING Button sets ninth fastest time at Sepang Lucky Strike B*A*R Honda's Jenson Button and Jacques Villeneuve finished ninth and 15th fastest respectively in today's first qualifying session for the ...

HONDA SECURES TOP TEN SPOT IN FRIDAY QUALIFYING
Button sets ninth fastest time at Sepang

Lucky Strike B*A*R Honda's Jenson Button and Jacques Villeneuve finished ninth and 15th fastest respectively in today's first qualifying session for the Malaysian Grand Prix at Sepang on Sunday.

The Honda-powered duo ran well during the morning free practice session as all drivers adjusted to the unique climatic conditions of Malaysia. Button set the sixth fastest time of 1m37.060s, finishing the morning as the highest Bridgestone runner, while Villeneuve set the eighth fastest time of 1m37.357s.

McLaren's David Coulthard was the first driver out on track for the afternoon session, as the order was dictated by the 2003 drivers' championship standings. Villeneuve therefore went out ninth, just over 20 minutes into the session, while Button took to the track for his one flying lap directly after his team-mate.

The Canadian did not have a good run on what appeared to be a slowing track. He made a mistake in the final sector and set a time of 1m37.585s, finally placing him 15th. Button completed a tidier run, the Brit recording the ninth fastest time of the day, a 1m36.632s.

The drivers will start in reverse order of today's times for final qualifying on Saturday, hence Villeneuve and Button will be out on track to complete their one flying lap in sixth and 12th place respectively.

The weather remained humid and fairly cloudy at Sepang (34 degrees) as Ferrari's Michael Schumacher set a stunning fastest lap of 1m34.980s, followed by team-mate Rubens Barrichello and the Williams of Juan Pablo Montoya. Kimi Raikkonen and David Coulthard (McLaren) finished fourth and fifth while Renault's Jarno Trulli grabbed sixth place.

Shuhei Nakamoto - Engineering Director, Honda Racing Development:

"Both drivers had a good session this morning and I'd hoped for better results this afternoon, but ninth and 15th isn't too bad. Our engines were in good shape throughout both sessions so I'm looking forward to seeing what we can do tomorrow - when it really counts."

Jenson Button Position: 9th:

"The balance has changed quite a lot since this morning when I was struggling with too much understeer. I had a lot more oversteer this afternoon. We did some set-up changes to help the oversteer but it just seems to have got worse again. Maybe it's the circuit but it was quite snappy everywhere under braking. Considering the way the car was, I don't think the lap was too bad really. There's a lot to be gained which is positive and I'm sure we'll see an improvement tomorrow."

Jacques Villeneuve Position: 15th:

"The differential wasn't working properly this morning so we weren't really sure what the car balance was at the end of practice. We changed the car set-up and brakes for qualy so it was a little bit of an unknown. The car itself was quite quick, not as competitive as Melbourne though. I was trying hard and made a mistake in the last two corners and paid the price by having a slow lap."

-honda-

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Jarno Trulli , Jenson Button , Michael Schumacher , Rubens Barrichello , David Coulthard , Jacques Villeneuve , Kimi Raikkonen , Shuhei Nakamoto
Teams Ferrari , McLaren , Williams