BUTTON RACES TO EIGHTH IN SAN MARINO Third consecutive points scoring finish for Honda-powered drivers Lucky Strike B*A*R Honda's Jenson Button finished in eighth place at the San Marino Grand Prix while Jacques Villeneuve retired from the race...
BUTTON RACES TO EIGHTH IN SAN MARINO
Third consecutive points scoring finish for Honda-powered drivers
Lucky Strike B*A*R Honda's Jenson Button finished in eighth place at the San Marino Grand Prix while Jacques Villeneuve retired from the race on lap 19.
As the drivers formed on the grid for the start of the 23rd San Marino Grand Prix cloudy skies loomed and the forecast was for rain later in the afternoon (18 degrees). Jordan's Ralph Firman and Minardi's Justin Wilson and Jos Verstappen all started from pit lane and refuelled between the formation lap and the start of the race. Jaguar's Antonio Pizzonia stalled on the grid and team-mate Mark Webber was slow to get away, blocking Villeneuve who was directly behind the Australian on the grid. The Canadian fell back six places to 13th while Button lost one place at the start and slotted in 10th.
Having moved up to seventh place as the first round of pit stops commenced, Button came in for his first stop for fuel, tyres and a front wing adjustment on lap 16, rejoining in 12th place behind Olivier Panis (Toyota). Lap 18 saw Villeneuve pit for a good clean stop and the Canadian rejoined in 13th position. However, just one lap later the race was over for Villeneuve when his engine wire harness was burnt, causing the engine to stop.
Button was up into ninth place by lap 24 as the remainder of the frontrunners pitted. The British driver moved up another spot as the second round of pit stops commenced on lap 27. Juan Pablo Montoya (Williams) was forced to pit twice in quick succession due a refuelling problem on his first stop, the Colombian rejoining five seconds behind Button on lap 33. Three laps later the B*A*R Honda driver came in for his second stop, rejoining in eighth place behind Fernando Alonso (Renault).
By lap 42 the air temperature had dropped three degrees to 15 and over the next 14 laps both Firman and Fisichella (Jordan) and Jaguar's Mark Webber retired from the action. Button pushed hard for the remainder of the race but was unable to catch Alonso and crossed the line in eighth position, making this the third consecutive race in which B*A*R Honda has finished in the points.
Ferrari's Michael Schumacher took the chequered flag followed by McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen and Rubens Barrichello (Ferrari). Ralf Schumacher (Williams) and David Coulthard (McLaren) finished fourth and fifth while Fernando Alonso (Renault) crossed the line sixth. The final two points scoring positions were taken by Juan Pablo Montoya (Williams) and B*A*R Honda's Jenson Button.
Shuhei Nakamoto - Engineering Director, Honda Racing Development:
"Jenson drove hard today and this is the third race in a row that we've scored points, so that's encouraging. This wasn't a good race for us though. It was very unfortunate that Jacques had a problem and couldn't finish. I would also like to add that our thoughts are with Daijiro Kato's family at this very sad time."
Jenson Button Position: 8th
"It's good to get a point here but a little disappointing that we couldn't do better today. I got a little bogged down at the start behind Webber but then I pushed as hard as I could. I think we got everything right today in terms of strategy but we still finished a long way off the leaders. I think we've been able to demonstrate improving reliability but we just need a little more speed. We have an aero and engine upgrade for the next race, which we're testing in Mugello next week, so we should see a small step forward for Barcelona in two weeks' time."
Jacques Villeneuve Position: DNF
"It's very disappointing not to finish the race here because things were looking good for us today. I had a problem changing down and then the engine stopped shortly after. I was quite surprised that so many people ran a three-stop strategy because we were on two stops and we were quite competitive. We've had a few problems recently and sadly they've been on my car, but it is encouraging that we are competitive. We just need to work on reliability now and make sure we don't keep missing out on good opportunities."