US GP: Honda race notes

JACQUES VILLENEUVE SCORES A POINT AT INDIANAPOLIS Honda-powered quartet maintain competitive form at US GP Lucky Strike B.A.R Honda's Jacques Villeneuve crossed the line in sixth place in today's US Grand Prix while Giancarlo Fisichella (DHL ...

Honda-powered quartet maintain competitive form at US GP

Lucky Strike B.A.R Honda's Jacques Villeneuve crossed the line in sixth place in today's US Grand Prix while Giancarlo Fisichella (DHL Jordan Honda) finished seventh. Jordan Honda's Takuma Sato and B.A.R Honda's Olivier Panis finished in 11th and 12th positions respectively. Today's result marks the second consecutive race that all four Honda-powered cars have finished and a B.A.R Honda driver has scored a world championship point.

The two-stopping B.A.R Honda of Jacques Villeneuve lost one position off the grid but by the end of the second lap had gained two places to sixth as the Williams pairing of Ralf Schumacher and Juan Pablo Montoya took each other out. On lap 12 Villeneuve overtook McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen for fifth place and set his sights on the one-stopping Renault of Jarno Trulli.

The Canadian maintained this position until lap 25 when he came in for his first pit stop. Villeneuve returned to the action in 10th place and by lap 30 was up into eighth, continuing his race-long battle with Trulli, who he fought with and eventually overtook for seventh position three laps later. The B.A.R Honda driver came in for his second pit stop on lap 51, rejoining in sixth behind Trulli who he pushed hard to catch. Villeneuve crossed the line in sixth position, just two and half seconds behind the Renault driver, scoring a valuable point for himself and B.A.R Honda, which means that the team leap-frogs Jordan Honda for seventh place in the Constructors' Championship.

Jordan Honda's Giancarlo Fisichella took a unique strategy being the only Bridgestone runner who was one stopping. By the end of lap two he was in ninth place and despite driving hard during his long first stint, the Italian struggled with oversteer and inconsistent tyre behaviour. Fisichella made his one scheduled pit stop from fifth position on lap 37, rejoining in ninth place behind Nick Heidfeld (Sauber). As the second pit stop sequence unfolded on lap 51 Fisichella gained another place and held seventh position until the end of the race.

The two-stopping Takuma Sato (Jordan Honda) made a great start, moving up three places to 12th. By the end of lap two Sato was up into 11th place behind Heinz Harald Frentzen (Sauber), who he overtook on lap six on his second attempt. The Japanese driver was pushing so hard that on his first attempt to overtake Frentzen, he went off onto the grass and rejoined behind the Sauber driver. It didn't take him long to catch Frentzen, however, and Sato remained in 10th place until pitting on lap 26. After his second pit stop on lap 51 Sato rejoined in 12th position, quickly moving up into 11th place when Raikkonen retired, and the Jordan Honda driver went on to cross the line in 11th position, having started 15th on the grid.

B.A.R Honda's Olivier Panis, who qualified 12th on the grid, had a terrible start and fell back to 17th place, but by the end of lap 12 he was up into 15th position and fighting with Allan McNish (Toyota) for 14th place. Panis overtook him two laps later before coming in for his first of two scheduled pit stops on lap 21. The Frenchman had a suspected mechanical problem so he couldn't push as hard as he wanted to and had to come in early for his second pit stop on lap 50. Having rejoined in 13th position and gained another spot on Raikkonen's departure, Panis finished the race in 12th place.

The drivers were greeted by stunning weather conditions (26 degrees) at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway as Ferrari's Rubens Barrichello took the chequered flag, finishing ahead of team-mate Michael Schumacher and the McLaren of David Coulthard. Juan Pablo Montoya (Williams) and Renault's Jarno Trulli finished fourth and fifth while B.A.R Honda's Jacques Villeneuve completes the point scoring positions.

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

"This is the second consecutive race that we have scored a point and all four Honda-powered drivers have made it to the end. Overall this has been a good weekend for us and our drivers fought really hard today. We're all looking forward to our home Grand Prix at Suzuka in two weeks time where we will be working hard to further increase our competitiveness."

Jacques Villeneuve Position: 6th

"The team did a great job today, as they have all weekend. We picked up a very important point and really made the best of things in the race. I had been quite worried about grip so the tyres really dictated a two- stop strategy today. We made a few changes after warm-up this morning to try to counter any problems and the car actually worked well in the race. The track picked up grip but it was tough going for the first 6- 10 laps after the pitstops. Once the fuel went down the tyres actually got better so it was easy to do some quick laps. We've been quite competitive here this weekend; I could drive the car aggressively and overtake. A good showing here means we should be better off in Suzuka so I'm optimistic about a good finish to the season."

Giancarlo Fisichella Position: 7th

"Finishing 7th is not very good. There was reasonable pace and I was having a good race except that the behaviour of the tyres was very inconsistent. Both sets of tyres were okay for the first few laps but then there was huge oversteer everywhere and after 15 to 20 laps the rear end came back and I was quick again. I'm very disappointed."

Takuma Sato Position: 11th

"The start was exciting and our launch control has improved since the last race which is good. I already improved on my position going into Turn 1 by overtaking Olivier and Eddie Irvine. After the start I got stuck in traffic, which cost us time and the two stop strategy meant we should have been pushing ahead. Towards the finish I had blistering on the tyres or something and found the oversteer quite difficult. In the end it was just about bringing the car home. It was a tough race."

Olivier Panis Position: 12th

"Looking on the positive side I have to say 'Congratulations' to Jacques. He drove a hard race to finish 6th and secured a very important point for the team. On the other hand, this has been a disappointing end to a difficult weekend for me. I had a very bad start and lost places into the first corner then had to follow slower cars until the first pitstop. We then suspected a mechanical problem and I couldn't really push as hard as I needed to, so I pitted early for my second stop. After that, we seemed to get over the problem and I could start pushing again but it was always going to be a struggle to recover. I have to put this weekend behind me now and hope for better things in Japan."


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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Juan Pablo Montoya
Teams Ferrari , Sauber , McLaren , Williams , Jordan