Spanish GP: Honda race notes

VILLENEUVE RACES TO SEVENTH IN SPAIN B.A.R Honda driver takes seventh at Barcelona Jacques Villenueve (Lucky Strike B.A.R Honda) crossed the line in seventh position in today's Spanish Grand Prix while team-mate Olivier Panis retired from the...

Honda driver takes seventh at Barcelona

Jacques Villenueve (Lucky Strike B.A.R Honda) crossed the line in seventh position in today's Spanish Grand Prix while team-mate Olivier Panis retired from the race on lap 44 with a broken exhaust. DHL Jordan Honda's Takuma Sato retired on lap 11 while team-mate Giancarlo Fisichella was forced out of the action on lap five with a loss of hydraulic pressure.

The weather became cloudy and windy (20 degrees) as the Spanish Grand Prix got underway at the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona. B.A.R Honda's Jacques Villeneuve remained in 15th position off the grid but benefited from the retirement of McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen and Jordan Honda's Giancarlo Fisichella, as he moved up into 13th position by the end of the fifth lap. Just a handful of laps later the race was over for Jordan Honda's Takuma Sato, moving the B.A.R Honda driver up into 12th, just behind the Arrows of Enrique Bernoldi.

Villeneuve came in for his first pit stop on lap 23, and gained a place when Ralf Schumacher (Williams) pitted for a new front wing. He then overtook Bernoldi for 10th position on lap 37. Villeneuve gained a place during the second set of pit stops, and went on to pass the Renault's of Jenson Button and Jarno Trulli whose cars had developed problems. Villeneuve maintained his position and went on to cross the line in seventh place, having started from 15th on the grid.

His B.A.R Honda team-mate Olivier Panis made up two positions at the start, and gained another place as a result of Kimi Raikkonen's departure on lap four. The Frenchman came in for his first pit stop on lap 23 and rejoined the race in 11th place ahead of Bernoldi. Panis continued to push hard and managed to take ninth position from Heinz-Harald Frentzen (Arrows) as the first pit stop sequence unfolded. He gained another place as a result of Ralf Schumacher's lengthy pit stop but on lap 44, just after his second scheduled pit stop, Panis had to pull over with a broken exhaust.

Jordan Honda's Takuma Sato made a great start, improving five positions to 13th place, to slot in just behind team-mate Giancarlo Fisichella by the end of the first lap. His attack was short-lived however, as his car suffered from understeer, causing him to spin into the gravel trap on turn 13 on lap 11. His Jordan Honda team-mate Fisichella didn't manage to improve on his grid position at the start of the race, but moved up into 11th place when Kimi Raikkonen retired. However, the Italian was forced out of the action on lap five due a loss of gear box hydraulic pressure.

Michael Schumacher (Ferrari) dominated the race, finishing ahead of Juan Pablo Montoya (Williams) and the McLaren of David Coulthard. The Sauber pairing of Nick Heidfeld and Felipe Massa finished fourth and fifth with Heinz-Harald Frentzen (Arrows) completing the top six.

Jaguar's Eddie Irvine had to start from the back of the grid due to a fuel irregularity in yesterday's qualifying session, which meant that B.A.R Honda's Jacques Villeneuve started from 15th and Jordan Honda's Takuma Sato started from 18th. Minardi team boss Paul Stoddart withdrew Alex Yoong and Mark Webber from the race due to several wing failures in the practice sessions for this weekend's race. Ferrari's Rubens Barrichello remained on the grid as the formation lap got underway and the Brazilian was unable to start the race due to technical problems with the car.

Shuhei Nakamoto - Race and Test Team Manager, Honda Racing Development

"All four Honda-powered drivers pushed very hard today but for one reason or another three obviously failed to finish, not a great day! However, we have to take the positives from any race and learn from them. Our race pace wasn't too bad so we have to try and improve our qualifying performance so that we can take advantage of any chances available to score points. The fight goes on."

Jacques Villeneuve Position: 7th

"The race went well for me today and we were more competitive than in qualifying. I was angry because Bernoldi put me on to the grass and then I lost a lot of time running behind him. I wasn't happy with the car at first but we made some aerodynamic changes during the pitstop and the car felt much better after that. By the time I started doing quick laps though I was too far behind. It hasn't been a very good weekend generally. Austria should be better for us than here but we still have a lot of work to do."

Olivier Panis Position: DNF

"I'm disappointed that we missed a big opportunity to score one or two points today but I'm very pleased with the team because they did a great job this weekend. I made a very good start and the pitstop strategy and execution were brilliant. After the first stop I rejoined the race ahead of Frentzen and I was able to keep him behind me without difficulty before an exhaust failure ended my race. We seem to have reduced our reliability problems to a minimum but we still need to keep pushing to keep on top of them. When points opportunities come our way we need to be in a position to take advantage of them. I'm looking forward to testing in Estoril next week and to the next race in Austria as I'm hungry for a good result."

Takuma Sato Position: DNF

"I suffered huge understeer into the high speed corner and just could not correct it. It is a big shame as we were in good shape in warm up and I'd made a good start to the race."

Giancarlo Fisichella Position: DNF

"Not a good day! I had a loss of hydraulic pressure which meant I could not change gears. I am very disappointed as I haven't been able to finish any races because of various problems and it is clear we are not competitive enough. I hope to improve things for the future."


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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Eddie Irvine , Giancarlo Fisichella , Takuma Sato , Jarno Trulli , Jenson Button , Ralf Schumacher , Enrique Bernoldi , Michael Schumacher , Heinz-Harald Frentzen , Mark Webber , David Coulthard , Olivier Panis , Jacques Villeneuve , Nick Heidfeld , Kimi Raikkonen , Alex Yoong , Felipe Massa , Paul Stoddart , Shuhei Nakamoto
Teams Ferrari , Sauber , McLaren , Williams , Minardi , Jordan