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Formula 1May 4, 2003
Formula One World Championship Round 5
Round 5: Barcelona, Spain

BAR Honda Driver Finishes Ninth in Spain
Button crosses the line ninth, while Villeneuve's race is cut short


Lucky Strike BAR Honda's Jenson Button finished in ninth place and just missed out on a point at the Spanish Grand Prix while teammate Jacques Villeneuve retired from the race on lap 12.

The drivers were greeted by almost perfect weather conditions (24 degrees) as the afternoonÕs 65-lap race got off to a dramatic start at the Circuit de Catalunya. Jaguar's Antonio Pizzonia was very slow to move off the grid and McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen, who started from the back as he failed to set a time in final qualifying yesterday, drove straight into the back of the Brazilian. Moments later Jarno Trulli (Renault) and David Coulthard (McLaren) tangled as the safety car was being deployed for the first accident. Although the Italian's race was over, the Scotsman managed to rejoin the action after pitting to repair some damage.

Despite the eventful start both BAR Honda drivers got away well, Button remaining in fifth place off the grid and Villeneuve making up four spots to seventh position. The safety car returned to the pits on lap five and Juan Pablo Montoya (Williams) snuck past Button for fifth place. His BAR Honda teammate was running directly behind him in sixth position, but Villeneuve's race was cut short as the frustrated Canadian retired on lap 12 when his engine stopped as a consequence of a wiring harness fire.

Button came in for his first of three scheduled pit stops on lap 14 and rejoined in 12th place behind Coulthard. Just four laps later the British drivers touched as Button tried to overtake Coulthard and the McLaren driver spun out of the race. After a lengthy pit stop for a new front wing, more fuel and fresh tyres, the Honda-powered driver rejoined the action at the back and fought hard to make up four places to 11th by lap 36. Button moved up another two places by lap 42 as both Heinz-Harald Frentzen (Sauber) and Olivier Panis (Toyota) retired.

The Briton pitted for his third and final stop on lap 45 and rejoined in 10th place behind the Sauber of Nick Heidfeld, who was then given a drive through penalty for ignoring blue flags. Button was on a mission to catch fellow countryman Ralph Firman (Jordan) but encountered gear selection problems during the last few laps and went on to cross the line in ninth place, just missing out on the points.

Ferrari's Michael Schumacher took the chequered flag followed by Fernando Alonso (Renault) and Rubens Barrichello (Ferrari). The Williams pairing of Juan Pablo Montoya and Ralf Schumacher finished fourth and fifth while Cristiano Da Matta (Toyota) crossed the line sixth. The final two points scoring positions were taken by Mark Webber (Jaguar) and Ralph Firman.

Shuhei Nakamoto - Engineering Director, Honda Racing Development
"After a strong weekend I was hoping for a much better result today. Jacques made a good start and it's such a shame that his race was cut short. There was an engine wiring harness fire, which caused the engine to shut down. At the moment we don't know exactly what started the fire but it is unrelated to the problem we had in the last race. Jenson was obviously fighting hard but again, a really frustrating afternoon for him."

Jenson Button Position: 9th
"Considering how bad the race was for me IÕm lucky to end up even close to the points. The start wasnÕt fantastic but then the tyres took a long time to warm up and I dropped behind the Williams. After the first pit stop I came up behind David Coulthard and he seemed to be struggling a little bit. I got alongside him on the inside in the first corner and he just turned in, so that destroyed my race really. I had to come into the pits with a damaged front wing and a puncture to the left front tyre. Because of that there was a problem getting the jack under the car and then getting the new tyre on again. I pushed as hard as I could for the rest of the race and there was still a chance of getting seventh or eighth. Then we had a gearshift problem towards the end of the race and I lost third gear three laps from the end and fourth for the last two laps. Not the best of races and in the end I was lucky to make it to the finish. The team did a great job throughout the weekend though so IÕm just sorry we werenÕt able to make the best of it."

Jacques Villeneuve Position: DNF
"What can I say? I was very optimistic because I was running more fuel than Jenson. He was three-stopping and I was on two, but I was right behind him after the safety car. The race was going really well and we were genuinely fighting to be in the top there. I was running the same strategy as Barrichello and would have come into the pits at the same time. We could have had a good battle with Montoya. ItÕs a little bit frustrating now because itÕs been the same story race after race. ItÕs a shame that we spend the weekend working on race strategy and set-up, and we compromise our qualifying position to give us the best shot at the race. Then we canÕt even make use of that work because we donÕt finish on Sunday."

Formula One World Championship Round 5
Round 5: Barcelona, Spain

line
1 Michael Schumacher (Ferrari)
2 Fernando Alonso (Renault)
3 Rubens Barrichello (Ferrari)
4 Juan Pablo Montoya (Williams BMW)
5 Ralf Schumacher (Williams BMW)
6 Cristiano da Matta (Toyota)
7 Mark Webber (Jaguar Cosworth)
8 Ralph Firman (Jordan Ford)
9 Jenson Button (BáAáR Honda)
10 Nick Heidfeld (Sauber Petronas)
11 Justin Wilson (Minardi Cosworth)
12 Jos Verstappen (Minardi Cosworth)
Jenson Button
Jenson Button
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