|Formula One World Championship
Round 12: German Grand Prix
Honda Scores Another Point at Hockenheim
ucky Strike BAR Honda's Jenson Button crossed the line eighth at the German Grand Prix having started from 17th on the grid, while teammate Jacques Villeneuve finished in ninth place.
The sweltering weather conditions continued at Hockenheim, the air and track temperatures soaring to 35 and 48 degrees respectively as the cars lined up on the grid. The action began early, the safety car being deployed almost as soon as the lights went out for the start of the 67-lap race when McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen collided with Ferrari's Rubens Barrichello at turn one and both drivers spun off the track.
Jenson Button moved up to 11th position from 17th at the start as Ralf Schumacher, Heinz-Harald Frentzen, Justin Wilson, Kimi Raikkonen, Rubens Barrichello and Ralf Firman all retired from the action due to that first corner incident. Then, lap nine saw the Briton dive past Sauber's Nick Heidfeld for ninth place and slot in behind Cristiano Da Matta of Toyota. Button came in for his first of two scheduled stops on lap 21, having fought his way up to sixth position.
The BAR Honda driver rejoined in 10th place ahead of Jaguar's Mark Webber and by lap 34 was running in eighth position due to the pit stops of his teammate and Heidfeld. Following his final pit stop on lap 44 Button rejoined in eighth place, and he managed to keep Webber behind him to cross the line eighth from 17th on the grid and collect another championship point for himself and the team.
Jacques Villeneuve got away well from 13th position on the grid but tangled with the Jaguar of Justin Wilson at turn one. The Canadian pitted during the safety car period to assess the damage and put some fuel in the car, rejoining in 13th place behind Jos Verstappen of Minardi as six drivers retired from the race.
The race action began again on lap four and Villeneuve put on a charge, moving up to eighth place by the 23rd lap. The Canadian set consistently competitive lap times and during his final pit stop on lap 34 took on enough fuel to last him until the end of the race, rejoining in 11th position. With 11 laps remaining the BAR Honda driver was running in 10th place, but on the last lap he grabbed ninth as Webber drove off the track. In an eventful and undoubtedly arduous race for the entire field, Villeneuve finished just outside the points in ninth position, having qualified 13th.
Juan Pablo Montoya of Williams took victory in Germany, followed by McLaren's David Coulthard and the Renaults of Jarno Trulli and Fernando Alonso. The two Toyota drivers, Olivier Panis and Cristiano Da Matta, finished fifth and sixth while Ferrari's Michael Schumacher and BAR Honda's Button took the final two point scoring positions.
Shuhei Nakamoto - Engineering Director, Honda Racing Development
"Once again Jenson fought his way through the field to score a point having started towards the back of the grid. It must've been really tough out there today in this heat and I enjoyed seeing our guys push so hard. Pretty frustrating for Jacques to finish just outside the points again but a good performance nonetheless. We need to continue to score points in the final four races."
Jenson Button Position: 8th
"I'm really pleased to finish eighth today, it's just a shame that we couldn't collect two points instead of one. Still, every point counts and we did a great job from where we started. I have to thank the team and Honda because we were quick and reliable in tough race conditions. I had a real problem with my rears locking due to a diff control failure, so it wasn't easy trying to keep everyone behind - particularly Webber. It's a nightmare starting from the back and I have to do better in Hungary because I'm just making life hard for myself. We have to drive our car on the edge at the moment though and sometimes it's very easy to slip over the limit."
Jacques Villeneuve Position: 9th
"A frustrating end to a very tough race for me. I got hit from behind in the first corner and that just destroyed my race. It's a great shame because the car was good today and we had a good strategy. Because of where we were on the track, we changed to a one-stop strategy. This wasn't the best choice in the end, but we decided to take a gamble and it didn't work out. The engine worked well and the car was quick, so we had a good chance of points today and it's very disappointing."
Round 13 of the FIA Formula One World Championship is the Hungarian Grand Prix on Sunday 24 August.
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Round 12: German Grand Prix
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