Lucky Strike B*A*R Honda took one step closer to victory today, securing its fourth podium of the season after Jenson Button drove the race of his life to finish 2nd in the Monaco Grand Prix. Having started from the front row of the grid, Jenson...
Lucky Strike B*A*R Honda took one step closer to victory today, securing its fourth podium of the season after Jenson Button drove the race of his life to finish 2nd in the Monaco Grand Prix.
Having started from the front row of the grid, Jenson could taste a first victory for both himself and the team and drove a hard-fought race from start to finish. His ability to close the gap to race leader Trulli was hampered by traffic as backmarkers repeatedly ignored blue overtaking flags - just one of the dramas unfolding in the most thrilling race of the season so far, in which the field was decimated by 11 retirements, including that of Championship leader Michael Schumacher.
Takuma Sato made the most sensational start off the grid, stealing the limelight as he scorched his way from 7th to 4th. At the first corner he slotted in neatly behind his team-mate, leaving the Ferraris and Raikkonen's McLaren in his wake. Just two laps later, he suffered an engine failure as a result of the delay on the grid for the restart. The smoke from his engine unsighted David Coulthard and Giancarlo Fisichella, causing an accident at the swimming pool complex from which Fisi thankfully escaped serious injury.
Today's haul of 8 points enables B*A*R to maintain 3rd position in the Constructors' championship, pulling 5 points ahead of Williams to 40. Jenson lies 3rd in the Drivers' Championship with 32 points whilst Takuma retains 8th on 8 points.
Jenson Button Position: 2nd
"It was a very tough but incredibly exciting race for me - and I suspect everyone watching at home too! It felt great crossing the line in second place, but ever so slightly frustrating because I was only a second behind the winner! I didn't get a good start and Alonso was able to get by me, then the traffic was very bad because of the backmarkers and I was getting really frustrated, being stuck behind da Matta for three and a half laps. After I broke free of them I could really start catching Jarno. We had a great strategy today but we just couldn't quite catch him."
Takuma Sato Position: DNF (2 laps)
"I am obviously extremely disappointed today after making such a great start off the grid, but on the positive side it was encouraging to see our race pace was so strong. I think we made a great tyre choice for this race and we had a very good strategy - it's just a shame I wasn't able to use it! I immediately felt a loss of engine power and saw some smoke, then my race was over."
"It was very unfortunate that the smoke caused the crash between Coulthard and Fisichella, and although there was nothing I could have done about it, I am really pleased that no one was hurt. We have been working very hard in testing at Barcelona and Paul Ricard for this race and the Nurburgring, and at least I don't have long to wait to try to make up for today."
David Richards, Team Principal:
"Jenson and Taku put up a great fight today, and we have shown yet again how a young team can take on the establishment and rattle a few cages. This was a really exciting race all round, and the team's ability to make instant tactical decisions really came to the fore. As always, traffic plays its part and Jenson did lose out pretty badly after the safety car came in and he was so blatantly held up. I guess many teams would have settled for a solid second but Jenson has shown that we will always fight back and never give up."
"In the same way, Taku's start was blistering and he muscled his way into a great position; it's just a shame it was so shortlived. Together with Honda and Michelin we have created a tight-knit team full of motivation and momentum, and that is what is capturing the imagination of fans around the world, who I would like to thank for all their tremendous support."
Geoffrey Willis, Technical Director:
"The car had been quick all weekend here, so we had hoped to bring the first Michelin win of 2004. In the end we were not quite quick enough to beat Renault today, and so are very happy to take another 2nd place. Jenson drove a faultless race and excellent work by the team in responding to the second safety car allowed Jenson to battle with Trulli right to the end. The failure of Toyota and da Matta to respond to the blue flags was pretty disappointing and cost Jenson over six seconds, which would have made the last part of the race even more exciting."
"Unfortunately, after a terrific start, Takuma's car stopped just two laps into the race, the engine failure undoubtedly the result of overheating at the restart. This was an unexpected failure with little warning and unfortunately caused the incident with Fisichella and Coulthard."
Shuhei Nakamoto, Engineering Director, Honda Racing Development:
"One way or another we contributed to lots of the drama today! First of all Jenson had another fantastic race and I loved watching him catch Jarno - fighting for a win feels good. I have to say that I am very sorry for Taku - he got a fantastic start and we should have done better for him."