Spanish GP: Honda Friday qualifying notes

HONDA IN TOP FIVE FOR FRIDAY QUALIFYING Button and Villeneuve set fifth and 12th fastest times in Barcelona Lucky Strike B*A*R Honda's Jenson Button finished fifth fastest in today's first qualifying session for the Spanish Grand Prix ...

HONDA IN TOP FIVE FOR FRIDAY QUALIFYING
Button and Villeneuve set fifth and 12th fastest times in Barcelona

Lucky Strike B*A*R Honda's Jenson Button finished fifth fastest in today's first qualifying session for the Spanish Grand Prix while Jacques Villeneuve finished 12th.

Button was eighth fastest in this morning's free practice, setting a time of 1m17.966s and finishing the session as the fastest Bridgestone runner. Villeneuve finished 14th with a time of 1m18.731s. Both B*A*R Honda drivers enjoyed a trouble-free session and completed over 50 laps between them (245.96km).

McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen was the first driver out on track at the Circuit de Catalunya this afternoon in superb weather conditions (26 degrees), as the Finnish driver is currently leading the 2003 drivers' championship. The ambient air temperature rose six degrees from this morning's session, and the track temperature increased 12 degrees to a high of 40.

Villeneuve went out 11th to complete his one flying lap, half way through the hour long session. The Canadian set an eighth fastest time of 1m18.461s, finally placing him 12th after all the qualifying runs were completed.

Button was out on track straight after his team-mate and put in a tidy lap, gaining fourth position with a time of 1m17.613s, just under five tenths of a second behind Michael Schumacher in the new F2003-GA, making its debut this weekend. The Briton ultimately finished fifth at the end of the session.

For final qualifying tomorrow Villeneuve and Button will be out on track in ninth and 16th place respectively, as the drivers will start in reverse order of today's times.

Ferrari's Michael Schumacher set a best lap of 1m17.130s around the 4.730km/2.939miles circuit, followed by Jarno Trulli (Renault). Rubens Barrichello (Ferrari) and Cristiano Da Matta (Toyota) finished third and fourth while B*A*R Honda's Jenson Button and Toyota's Olivier Panis complete the top six positions.

Shuhei Nakamoto - Engineering Director, Honda Racing Development:

"Our drivers covered 52 laps between them this morning and we've had a trouble-free reliable day, which I'm very pleased about. Jenson put in a good lap this afternoon and set a competitive time which is encouraging for the rest of the weekend. I'm sure both guys are looking forward to qualifying tomorrow."

Jenson Button Position: 5th

"I'm very pleased with 5th today. This morning I had a car that was a little bit too twitchy at the rear in the high-speed corners and I was worried that we wouldn't be able to get on top of that. We made some changes though and they seemed to do the trick, so I'm pleasantly surprised. It just felt like a very clean lap in which everything came together."

"A start like this gives you the confidence that the car is going to be stable for final qualifying and the race, so I'm very happy. We've had another small step up with the engine and aero here and these changes are gradually paying dividends. Things are looking good for the rest of the weekend so I'd like to think that top six is a possibility on Sunday."

Jacques Villeneuve Position: 12th

"The car has been very hard to drive all day but it didn't feel like a particularly bad lap, so it's a little bit disappointing. On long runs we were quite competitive but we just don't seem to have been able to make new tyres work for us today. Jenson's time showed that the car is quick but we have some work to do this evening to understand why we haven't been able to get the best out of it today."

-honda-

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Jarno Trulli , Jenson Button , Michael Schumacher , Olivier Panis , Jacques Villeneuve , Kimi Raikkonen , Shuhei Nakamoto
Teams Ferrari , McLaren