HONDA-POWERED BUTTON ON POLE IN IMOLA Button and Sato to start San Marino GP from first and seventh on the grid Jenson Button was simply fantastic today, sticking his B.A.R Honda 006 on pole for tomorrow's grid of the San Marino Grand Prix. The...
HONDA-POWERED BUTTON ON POLE IN IMOLA
Button and Sato to start San Marino GP from first and seventh on the grid
Jenson Button was simply fantastic today, sticking his B.A.R Honda 006 on pole for tomorrow's grid of the San Marino Grand Prix. The Briton, who has been enjoying superb form all weekend, set a blisteringly quick 1m19.753s lap to edge out World Champion Michael Schumacher's Ferrari by over a quarter of a second and secure the first ever pole position for himself and the B.A.R Honda team. His Honda-powered team-mate Takuma Sato secured seventh place on the grid with a 1m20.913s, the Japanese driver putting in another assured qualifying performance.
Button's pole position today clearly marks a return to form for Honda in Grand Prix qualifying after 11 years and 79 Grands Prix. Ayrton Senna scored Honda's last pole position at the 1992 Canadian GP in the McLaren-Honda MP4/7, at which time Honda's current F1 Project Leader, Takeo Kiuchi, was Senna's engine engineer. Not only was Senna, who died in a tragic accident at Imola exactly ten years ago, the most prolific points scorer for Honda, but also by far the best qualifier that has worn the Honda badge, the Brazilian achieving 44 out of his 65 career poles with the Japanese company during its second generation of F1 participation.
Briton John Surtees scored Honda's first pole position in 1968, driving the Honda RA301 at Monza, and since then 73 grid-topping qualifying performances have been achieved by Honda-powered drivers, spanning three eras of participation (1964-1968, 1983-1992 and 2000-present).
Button will be joined on the front row at Imola tomorrow afternoon by Ferrari's Michael Schumacher for what is shaping up to be a thrilling race. The pair will be followed by the Williams of Juan Pablo Montoya and Ferrari's Rubens Barrichello while Ralf Schumacher (Williams), Renault's Fernando Alonso and B.A.R Honda's Takuma Sato will line up in fifth, sixth and seventh place respectively.
Shuhei Nakamoto -- Engineering Director, Honda Racing Development:
"Fantastic. Jenson really did a great lap. To have pole this weekend means a lot to us all because the last time we were on pole was with Ayrton in 1992. I am looking forward to seeing how both the guys get on in the main event tomorrow."
Jenson Button Position: 1st
"Obviously I'm thrilled to achieve pole position - the first for me and the team. This is a fantastic moment in my career and the team's history, and I'm just so pleased for everyone who is now starting to see all their hard work and support pay off. It's great to break Ferrari's streak of poles so far this season - and on their home turf as well - but pole doesn't bring you points unless you work very hard in the race to maintain that starting position. We are under no illusions that tomorrow is going to be a tough race and we'll have to watch Michael every step of the way."
"But the car feels great; much better than in pre-qualifying when I had very low grip. I was really pleased with my lap and it all came together when it counted. For the first time in my F1 career I'll be starting the race with no one in front of me, which I know will be a special moment for me, but I'll be focusing 100% on the start lights because it's all down to me from there."
Takuma Sato Position: 7th
"It was not a perfect final qualifying lap for me because I didn't feel that I had a lot of grip, so I'm not satisfied. I was possibly riding the kerbs too much in the last sector, but the car generally worked well and I think we will have a strong package tomorrow. It is great to have two cars qualifying so high at the first European grand prix, especially with Jenson's pole position. Our new package has been working incredibly well so everyone in the team and at Honda and Michelin should be very pleased with the results we have seen here. I am delighted that we have had such a good season so far and hopefully we can achieve another solid two-car finish tomorrow."