Lucky Strike B*A*R Honda's Jenson Button experienced one of the highlights of his F1 racing career today when he led the United States Grand Prix for 15 laps before engine failure brought his race to a premature end. He delivered a terrific drive...
Lucky Strike B*A*R Honda's Jenson Button experienced one of the highlights of his F1 racing career today when he led the United States Grand Prix for 15 laps before engine failure brought his race to a premature end. He delivered a terrific drive in changing weather conditions which the team played perfectly to its advantage, putting Jenson within reach of his first podium and the team's best-ever race finish. It was not be however and he was forced to retire after 41 laps of the 73- lap race.
Jacques Villeneuve suffered the same fate 12 laps later whilst chasing a points-finish from ninth position, which dealt a double blow to the team's hopes of retaining fifth place in the Constructors' Championship.
"Leading the US Grand Prix was a great feeling and a fantastic moment in my career, but it's massively disappointing to lose out on the best chance I've had at my first podium. The team were aware for a few laps that I was losing hydraulic pressure but there was nothing they could do about it. Before this affected the car we had an engine problem and as I came round the last corner the engine gave way. It was a really tough race generally."
"The changing weather made any strategic decision a gamble and we were waiting and waiting to be sure that stopping and changing to wets was the best move. We held on a bit too long and I went off as things got really slippery out there. The car was pretty much undriveable; I had a lot of oversteer and after my pitstop the car was really twitchy."
"Realistically Michael was going to get past me sooner or later but I was hanging in well behind him and I'm confident that, all things being equal, we could have stayed there for the rest of the race. We needed points here today and instead we missed out on a great opportunity."
"There was no grip off the start or during the first lap but then the car improved and we were really quick on wet tyres. When it started raining we came in first to put on wets but it stopped raining at the same time, which was really bad luck. It was havoc out there. One lap too many and you're on ice and can lose 30 seconds, one lap too early and you overheat your rain tyres. We took the risk and it didn't pay off. We recovered later in the race and I was pushing hard in ninth, so we would have been there if any opportunities came our way but then the engine let go and that was the end of our race."
David Richards, Team Principal:
"There can be no hiding our disappointment after an outstanding performance from Jenson which promised so much. He held on exceptionally well in tough conditions, leading the race for 15 laps and looking very strong until his engine failed. We always knew that we would be competitive in wet conditions and both Jacques and Jenson proved this point. The fight for fifth place in the Championship now goes down to the wire with only one point separating three teams and everything to fight for in Suzuka two week's time."
Geoffrey Willis, Technical Director:
"This was a very disappointing outcome from a very exciting race which was dominated by changing weather conditions. Jenson made a good start and our qualifying strategy enabled us to run long enough to choose the best time to change to wet tyres. Following his first stop he led the race for 15 laps before giving way to Michael, and despite the difficult conditions Jenson was able to stay with him until he was forced out with engine failure. Although it is always difficult to predict the race outcome, the evidence suggests that, had we continued, we would have been on target for second and the team's best podium finish."
"Jacques suffered a bad start from the other side of the grid and when the first rain came we decided to split the strategies and bring him in for wet tyres whilst covering the Toyotas. In the end, this was the wrong decision and we soon had to revert to dry tyres, which penalised the rest of Jacques race. Despite this, he too was running strongly when he was also forced to retire with engine failure. We had pushed hard to bring the new Bridgestone wet tyre compound, having tested it at Monza, and the car was clearly very competitive in fully wet conditions. This result makes our task even more difficult in terms of securing fifth place in the Championship, but we will just have to fight even harder in Suzuka."
Shuhei Nakamoto, Engineering Director, Honda Racing Development:
"At the moment we're all clearly very disappointed by having two engine failures and this is obviously heightened by the fact that we were running in second. I am, however, determined that today's disappointment will not stop us from pushing as hard as we can to close the gap to the front runners."
Chassis: BAR Honda 005-6
Position: DNF (63 laps)
Best lap time: 1:13.538
Chassis: BAR Honda 005-4
Position: DNF (41 laps)
Best lap time: 1:13.038