Lucky Strike B*A*R Honda's Jenson Button is ready to do battle on the streets of Monte Carlo tomorrow after posting the 3rd fastest lap in today's final qualifying session for the 2004 Monaco Grand Prix. Williams driver Ralf Schumacher qualified...
Lucky Strike B*A*R Honda's Jenson Button is ready to do battle on the streets of Monte Carlo tomorrow after posting the 3rd fastest lap in today's final qualifying session for the 2004 Monaco Grand Prix.
Williams driver Ralf Schumacher qualified ahead of him in 2nd place, but under the new regulations, an engine change following Thursday's free practice session relegates him 10 places, leaving Jenson sandwiched in between the Renaults of Trulli and Alonso for the run into the notoriously tight first corner, Ste Devote.
Takuma Sato was on a hot lap that should have enabled him to be up with Jenson. He made a mistake in sector two when he hit the kerb, unsettling his car into the Nouvelle Chicane where he locked up on entry. He starts the race from row four after qualifying 8th, but Ralf Schumacher's relegation promotes him to 7th.
"It feels great to be starting the Monaco Grand Prix from the front row. This is a race everyone wants to do well in and to be in with the best chance of winning, or even on the podium, you have to be on the front row - preferably with the competition behind you! That might be the case with Michael, but I am sandwiched between the Renaults, and as we've seen here today, they are looking solid at the moment. We expected to be strong here, but I was struggling a little with set-up this morning. Thankfully we were able to address this for the start of qualifying and the car felt so much better, although I was still unable to get the best out of sector two. I'm pretty happy with everything though. I love it here and I think we can do a good job tomorrow."
"It's a great shame because I was on a really good lap until I had a moment in sector two coming off the kerb. I wasn't able to pick up grip straight away so I locked up into the chicane after the tunnel. Everything locked up - the front and the rears and I lost a lot of time. This unsettled me in sector three also. I'm not very happy because I could have been closer to the front row today, but I have to be positive and rely on what I think will be a strong strategy for tomorrow's race."
David Richards, Team Principal:
"To be on the front row of the grid at Monaco is such a fantastic achievement for Jenson. This place is always special, and you know that if you can master Monte Carlo you have done a fine job. Taku's 7th place is not really a true reflection of his speed over the past few days, and I am sure he must be kicking himself for his small error, as he could have been up there with Jenson. Of course where you start here is critical, but the first round of stops will I am sure spring a few surprises. We will be pushing to get back on the podium."
Geoffrey Willis, Technical Director:
"Qualifying position is extremely important here in Monaco, so we are very pleased that Jenson will be starting from the front row. Takuma unfortunately made a small mistake running over the kerbs on the exit from the tunnel, which lost him a probable front row qualifying position. The car has continued to be extremely reliable throughout the sessions, so we have been able to focus on set-up. The changes we made to Jenson's car after the morning's practice sessions worked well. This is clearly the best opportunity for a Michelin runner so far this season. We will be working very hard to ensure that B*A*R is the team that gets the results tomorrow.""
Shuhei Nakamoto, Engineering Director, Honda Racing Development:
"Getting onto the front row at Monaco is of course very important so I am very pleased with Jenson's lap today. Taku must be a little disappointed but he still starts the race in a competitive position and I am sure will fight hard to score points. The grand prix here always proves to be exciting and I'm looking forward to the race very much."
Chassis: BAR Honda 006-05
Lap time: 1:14.396
Chassis: BAR Honda 006-04
Lap time: 1:14.827