HARD DAY FOR HONDA AT INDIANAPOLIS Button and Villeneuve forced out of the action on lap 41 and 63 Lucky Strike B*A*R Honda's Jenson Button, who was running in second place and lead the US Grand Prix for 17 laps, was forced out of the action on...
HARD DAY FOR HONDA AT INDIANAPOLIS
Button and Villeneuve forced out of the action on lap 41 and 63
Lucky Strike B*A*R Honda's Jenson Button, who was running in second place and lead the US Grand Prix for 17 laps, was forced out of the action on lap 41 when his engine stopped. His Canadian team-mate Jacques Villeneuve retired from the race on lap 63, also with an engine failure.
The unpredictable Indianapolis weather continued and after a dry but chilly morning the skies darkened and it started to spit with rain as the drivers made their way onto the grid in preparation for the 73 lap race, the air temperature barely registering a cool 13 degrees.
B*A*R Honda's Jenson Button held 11th position off the grid and moved up to tenth on lap two as Rubens Barrichello (Ferrari) tangled with the Williams of Juan Pablo Montoya and ended up beached in a sand trap.
The fourth lap of the race saw the rain start to fall and some of the field started to come in for wet tyres. The Briton benefited from staying out a bit longer than the rest of the pack and was up into second place by the time he came in for fuel and wet tyres on lap 20 as the rain got heavier. The B*A*R Honda driver rejoined in fourth position and almost immediately overtook the Jaguar of Justin Wilson for third place.
By lap 23 Button was leading the race, as the front-runners took it in turns to pit and aquaplane off the track. On lap 27 Button was 12 seconds ahead of Ferrari's Michael Schumacher, and on course for his maiden podium finish.
It took Schumacher 17 laps to close the gap and on lap 37 the German overtook Button for first place. The B*A*R Honda driver continued to set competitive lap times and was running in second place when he was forced to retire on lap 41 with engine failure.
Jacques Villeneuve fell back four positions to 16th at the start and moved up to 15th by the second lap as Rubens Barrichello (Ferrari) retired from the race. On lap six the Canadian came in during the first rain shower of the race and ran for three laps on wet tyres, the team splitting the strategy for both drivers to take advantage of the changeable weather. After pitting for dry tyres on lap nine, Villeneuve continued to run in 16th when he got back on track.
Lap 22 saw the Canadian pit for wet tyres as the rain worsened, rejoining in 15th place and making his way up to ninth position behind Montoya by lap 41. Eight laps later Villeneuve stopped again and rejoined in ninth place. With just ten laps to go he was forced out of the action due to engine failure.
Ferrari's Michael Schumacher took victory at the Brickyard, followed by Kimi Raikkonen (McLaren) and Heinz-Harald Frentzen (Sauber). Renault's Jarno Trulli, Sauber's Nick Heidfeld and the Williams of Juan Pablo Montoya finished fourth, fifth and sixth while Jordan's Giancarlo Fisichella and Jaguar's Justin Wilson took the final two point scoring positions.
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."
Jacques Villeneuve DNF:
"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."
Jenson Button DNF:
"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."