|Formula One World Championship
Round 9: European Grand Prix
Honda Finish Seventh, Score Two More Points
Lucky Strike BAR Honda's Jenson Button crossed the line seventh at the European Grand Prix scoring two points and moving the team up into fifth in the constructors' championship, while teammate Jacques Villeneuve's race was over on lap 54 due to gearbox failure.
The drivers were greeted by warm temperatures and partly cloudy skies (air 25 degrees, track 30 degrees) at the Nurburgring for the 60-lap race. Button made up one place to 11th at the start and moved up into tenth on lap 11 when Olivier Panis (Toyota) locked his wheels and spun off. The Briton came in for his first of two scheduled stops on lap 15, pulling into the box just as his teammate left the pit lane. Button rejoined in 11th place and made his way up to eighth by lap 27 as Nick Heidfeld (Sauber) and Cristiano DaMatta (Toyota) pitted and McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen retired from the action.
Lap 37 saw Button pit for his second scheduled stop, rejoining in tenth place behind Jaguar's Mark Webber, and by lap 42 the BAR Honda driver was back in eighth position as both Panis and Renault's Jarno Trulli exited the race. Button continued to push hard and just three laps from the end moved up into seventh when McLaren's David Coulthard spun off while trying to pass Fernando Alonso (Renault). Having qualified in 12th position, Button crossed the line in a points-scoring seventh place, lifting the team into fifth place in the constructors' championship.
Jacques Villeneuve did not have a good start and fell back two places off the grid to 19th. After making his way into 17th place by the end of lap nine, the Canadian made a mistake and spun at turn two. He managed to get his BAR Honda 005 back on track and by lap 13 he was up to 17th position. On lap 14 he hit a cone at one of the chicanes and had to pit for a new nose, fuel and tyres, moments before Button was scheduled to come in.
The team worked incredibly fast to get Villeneuve back out on track in time to receive Button, and the Canadian rejoined the action in 20th position. By lap 40 Villeneuve was running in 15th due to the retirements of Trulli and Panis and the pit stops of the Minardi duo. The BAR Honda driver looked set to cross the line 15th when, just six laps from the end, it was all over as he parked his car at turn six with gearbox failure.
It was a Williams one-two for Ralf Schumacher and Juan Pablo Montoya at the Nurburgring, followed by Rubens Barrichello (Ferrari) and Fernando Alonso. Michael Schumacher (Ferrari) and Mark Webber finished fifth and sixth while Jenson Button crossed the line seventh. The final point-scoring position was taken by Nick Heidfeld.
Shuhei Nakamoto - Engineering Director, Honda Racing Development
"Jenson drove a good race and I'm pleased the team is back to points-scoring form. We're encouraged by the overall performance of our engine this weekend and look forward to being fully able to demonstrate its capacity at Magny-Cours. Jacques obviously had a hard day. I hope he'll be back refreshed in France next weekend."
Jenson Button Position: 7th
"I'm very happy to finish where we did because we weren't really on the pace at all today. The start was poor and there must have been a 30-metre gap between me and the guys in front, but I caught up at the first corner and managed to get past Webber in the process. I was really struggling with oversteer and I had to take it really easy on the first couple of stints to conserve the tyres, otherwise it would just have been oversteer all the way. It's been a tough old weekend here so I'm pleased we were able to get a couple of points into the bargain because the boys deserve a bit of a boost. Their work in the pits today was incredible with Jacques and I in on the same lap. I hope we can all expect something more in Magny-Cours next weekend."
Jacques Villeneuve Position: DNF
"I'm pleased to see the end of a very bad weekend. Once we got going the pace wasn't too bad, but it was hard to be stuck behind the Minardis. I made a couple of mistakes as well and I was lucky to recover from my spin in the chicane. Just as it looked as if I was at least going to be able to finish the race, second gear broke and it was over. I guess we just have to hope for a better weekend in Magny-Cours now."
Geoffrey Willis - Technical Director, BAR
"This has been a difficult weekend for the team so it is very good to finish with two more points. Jenson drove a solid race, particularly resisting the pressure of those behind him during the middle stint of the race. A great deal of credit must go to the pit crew today; they did an excellent job to change Jacques' nose in record time and get him out before Jenson came in on a scheduled stop just 10 seconds later. Jacques had a fairly dismal race; he started poorly and dropped to 19th, then had to fight his way past the Minardis. A subsequent mistake at the chicane saw him damage the front wing and finally his race came to an early conclusion with a second-gear failure, the cause of which will now be investigated."
| Formula One World Championship
Round 9: European Grand Prix
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