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Formula 1March 23, 2003
Formula One World Championship Round 2
Round 2: Sepang, Malaysia

Two points for Honda in Malaysia
Button finishes seventh at Kuala Lumpur, Villeneuve does not start


Lucky Strike B·A·R Honda's Jenson Button crossed the line in seventh place at the Malaysian Grand Prix while team-mate Jacques Villeneuve was unable to start the race due to an electrical problem which damaged his gearbox at the start of the formation lap.

Button started from ninth on the grid and was up into fifth place by the end of the first lap, following a collision involving Ferrari's Michael Schumacher, Jarno Trulli (Renault) and the Williams of Juan Pablo Montoya. Button came in for his first of two scheduled pit stops on lap 17 from third position, rejoining the action in fifth place just behind Ralf Schumacher (Williams). Lap 35 saw another clean and quick stop for the Brit, who rejoined in sixth place and moved back up to fifth when Trulli pitted.

After the pit stop sequence Michael Schumacher was hot on the tail of Trulli and by lap 40 Schumacher had caught the Italian and eased past, going on to overtake Button on lap 42. One lap later the German had to leave the track for his fourth pit stop so Button reclaimed fifth place. The B·A·R Honda driver pushed hard and until the final lap it looked as though the 23-year-old was going to finish fifth. However, Trulli and Schumacher managed to catch and pass him in the closing seconds of the race as he was plagued by progressive oversteer. Button went on to cross the line in seventh position, collecting his and the team's first championship points of the season.

McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen won the race, recording his maiden F1 victory and was joined on the podium by Rubens Barrichello (Ferrari) and Renault's Fernando Alonso. Fourth and fifth place were taken by Ralf Schumacher and Jarno Trulli while Michael Schumacher finished sixth. The final two points scoring positions were taken by Button and Sauber's Nick Heidfeld.

Shuhei Nakamoto --- Engineering Director, Honda Racing Development
"What a frustrating day! I think Jenson did a very good job battling in the high temperatures right to the end and I'm very pleased that we have scored our first points of the year. I'm also encouraged for the future by the race pace we showed today. As always, it is a very tough race on the engine and I'm glad it made it to the end. This was obviously not a good day for Jacques but we're looking ahead to Brazil now where we know we can do better."

Jenson Button Position: 7th
"It was a very tiring race and the car was so difficult to drive. We were a lot slower than the Renault today and when the car is that hard to handle it's very difficult to stay in front. I had very low grip, not just on the rear but also on the front, and the oversteer got progressively worse towards the end; it just destroyed the tyres. I held off Jarno for as long as I could, then on the last corner I braked where I normally would and the rear just locked up. I went straight on and Michael was able to get through. It's very disappointing because I was fighting hard to hold on to fifth. We got some points though and that's the main thing so I'm optimistic for Brazil."

Jacques Villeneuve Position: DNF
"A big disappointment as we concentrated all weekend on the race set-up and fuel strategy. We didn't look too good in qualifying but we were confident for the race. We couldn't show it though because of an electrical problem from the start. Bad luck, but that's life."


Formula One World Championship Round 2
Round 2: Sepang, Malaysia


line
1 Kimi Raikkonen (McLaren Mercedes)
2 Rubens Barrichello (Ferrari)
3 Fernando Alonso (Renault)
4 Ralf Schumacher (Williams BMW)
5 Jarno Trulli (Renault)
6 Michael Schumacher (Ferrari)
7 Jenson Button (Lucky Strike B·A·R Honda)
8 Nick Heidfeld (Sauber Petronas)
9 Heinz Harald Frentzen (Sauber Petronas)
10 Ralph Firman (Jordan Ford)
11 Christiano Da Matta (Toyota)
12 Juan Pablo Montoya (Williams BMW)
13 Jos Verstappen (Minardi Cosworth)
DNF Jacques Villeneuve (Lucky Strike B·A·R Honda)
Jenson Button
Jenson Button
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