HONDA POWERS JENSON BUTTON TO BEST-EVER FINISH Button crosses the line second in San Marino to score third consecutive podium Starting from pole position at Imola, Lucky Strike B.A.R Honda's Jenson Button drove another spectacular race to bring...
HONDA POWERS JENSON BUTTON TO BEST-EVER FINISH
Button crosses the line second in San Marino to score third consecutive podium
Starting from pole position at Imola, Lucky Strike B.A.R Honda's Jenson Button drove another spectacular race to bring his B.A.R Honda 006 home in second place, his third consecutive podium finish, at the 24th San Marino Grand Prix. Takuma Sato made a lightening start from seventh on the grid, running in fourth position until the first round of pit stops, but his race ultimately ended just six laps from the chequered flag.
Honda-powered Jenson Button thundered off the start line from his first ever pole position and pulled out a 2.7 second lead over the Ferrari of Michael Schumacher, who had an early scrap with Williams' Juan Pablo Montoya for P2, by the end of lap one. Button and Schumacher immediately started to pull away from the rest of the pack, the race leaders lapping a second a lap quicker than third placed Montoya.
Though he was clearly on a charge, the Briton had to settle for second position by lap 12 as Schumacher managed to get past Button in the first of his three scheduled pit stops. Button's second pit stop came on lap 26 when he had an impressive 14.8 second margin over Montoya in third. Race leader Michael Schumacher pitted on the very next lap.
The German continued to edge further ahead of Button, both drivers holding their track positions after smoothly executing their third and final pit stops on lap 44 (Button) and 46 (Schumacher). There was no change up front for the remaining 16 laps, as the Ferrari and B.A.R Honda stars settled down and went for consistent and comfortable lap times around the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari circuit. Button's superb second placed finish today secured the Briton eight world championship points for the first time in his career, as he notched up a sensational hat-trick of podium finishes.
The heavy overnight rain was nowhere to be seen as Takuma Sato also made a terrific start in the second B.A.R Honda 006, jumping two places to fifth from seventh on the grid. Sato managed to make it stick despite the lap one tussle between Michael Schumacher and Montoya, the Japanese driver brilliantly snatching fourth from Ralf Schumacher to be sandwiched between the Williams duo.
Having lost out during the first round of pit stops, Sato was running in eighth place by lap 10 behind Fernando Alonso's Renault and went on to have a fairly uneventful second stint, running consistently in eighth position, pitting as scheduled on lap 28 and 43. Ultimately though, Sato's challenge was unfulfilled, the B.A.R Honda driver being denied eighth as his car stopped on track with an engine failure on lap 57.
To the delight of the Italian Tifosi, Michael Schumacher won the 62 lap San Marino Grand Prix, B.A.R Honda's Jenson Button and Juan Pablo Montoya (Williams) joining him on the podium. The Renault pairing of Fernando Alonso and Jarno Trulli and Ferrari's Rubens Barrichello finished fourth and fifth and sixth while Ralf Schumacher (Williams) and McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen complete the point scoring positions.
Shuhei Nakamoto - Engineering Director, Honda Racing Development:
"Jenson has been immense all weekend. To take pole the way he did and then drive so strongly all race really demonstrates his ability and also his obvious confidence in the car. Taku had to battle hard for the whole race with difficulties but stuck to his task very well and I am sorry the engine eventually stopped. Although we have made a good step this weekend, we have to find the same again to challenge for the top."
Jenson Button Position: 2nd
"It was another fantastic race for me and second place is another step closer to our ultimate ambition - a first win for me and the team. The first lap felt very good and I was able to gather pace, pull away and lead the first stint. This is a difficult track to overtake on so I wasn't too worried, but then after Michael overtook me in the first pitstop he pulled out a very strong lead. I was very surprised actually. There was nothing I could do to catch him but we are very pleased to have taken a step up the podium. Our revised package has worked incredibly well here and this result just goes to prove what we can achieve together with our partners Honda and Michelin. I'm very happy today and it looks like we have a very exciting season ahead of us."
Takuma Sato Position: DNF
"It is a shame that I couldn't finish the race with only a few laps to go, since I had a very exciting start and there was a lot of fighting for position in the first lap. But then I struggled with the pace after a few problems with the gearbox at the start, which got worse. Nonetheless, we have seen another great team result here this weekend. I am very much looking forward to the next race in Barcelona at a track I know well from testing there so often this year."