|Formula One World Championship
Round 14: Italian Grand Prix
Honda Driver Races to Sixth Place in Italy
Lucky Strike BáAáR Honda's Jacques Villeneuve crossed the line sixth at the Italian Grand Prix, having started from tenth on the grid while team-mate Jenson Button was forced out of the action on lap 24 with a gear selection problem.
Monza continued to enjoy beautiful weather as the drivers made their way onto the grid in preparation for the formation lap, the air and track temperatures registering 23 and 43 degrees. Giancarlo Fisichella's Jordan Ford stalled on the grid as the drivers pulled away for the formation lap, so the Italian decided to start the race from pit lane. Seconds after the 53 lap race began, Renault's Fernando Alonso hit Jos Verstappen's Minardi as he tried to avoid the stricken Jaguar of Justin Wilson, forcing all three drivers to peel off into the pit lane for repairs.
BáAáR Honda's Jenson Button lost two places to ninth position at the start due to a technical problem but settled down to lap within seconds of his team-mate and made his way up into fifth place by lap 13, as the race entered the first pit stop zone. The BáAáR Honda driver was fighting hard and making good progress despite a problem with second gear and two laps later pitted for his first of two scheduled stops.
Button rejoined in ninth place and a few laps later reported that he had also lost first gear. The Briton battled on but by lap 24 he had lost sixth and seventh gear as well so the team decided he should park his BáAáR Honda 005 in the garage.
Jacques Villeneuve got a good start from tenth position on the grid, leap-frogging his team-mate for eighth place, as the cars diced for position through the tricky first chicane. By lap 15 the Canadian had moved up into third position as the first pit stop sequence unfolded. One lap later Villeneuve came in for his first scheduled stop, rejoining in seventh place ahead of Olivier Panis (Toyota).
The BáAáR Honda driver started to pull away from Panis and put in some solid laps before pitting for a second scheduled stop on lap 33. The Canadian rejoined the action in ninth position and three laps later moved back up into seventh place as the Saubers of Nick Heidfeld and Heinz-Harald Frentzen pitted.
Villeneuve moved up to sixth position on lap 45 as David Coulthard's McLaren came to a halt at the exit of the pit lane. The Canadian continued to put in competitive lap times for the final eight laps of the race and went on to cross the line in sixth place, scoring three championship points for himself and the team.
Ferrari's Michael Schumacher won the race to the delight of the Italian tifosi, followed by the Williams of Juan Pablo Montoya and the second Ferrari of Rubens Barrichello. Kimi Raikkonen (McLaren), Marc Gene (Williams) and BáAáR Honda's Jacques Villeneuve finished fourth, fifth and sixth while Jaguar's Mark Webber and Renault's Fernando Alonso took the final two point scoring positions.
Shuhei Nakamoto - Engineering Director, Honda Racing Development
"Jacques drove a steady race today and I'm pleased we've picked up three more points at this crucial stage of the championship. Not a good day for Jenson. We will have a challenging final two races."
Jacques Villeneuve Position: 6th
"I'm really pleased to finish sixth today and get three more Championship points for the team. The race was a great team effort and the guys did a fantastic job during the pitstops. We didn't qualify as well as we hoped yesterday but we were working for the race, so it was great to stay reliable and be able to make the most of a good race set-up. Let's hope we can build on that at Indianapolis in two weeks now."
Jenson Button DNF
"I got a really bad start then things went from bad to worse. I lost second gear early in the race so I had to rely on first. I was doing quite well considering, and I managed to stay ahead of Frentzen and Panis, then I lost first, sixth and seventh in close succession. It's a real shame after such a positive qualifying performance because I felt that we could easily have achieved points finishes for both cars today. Jacques did a good job though and three points for the team is still very important at this stage. We have to maintain the momentum in testing next week now and make sure we do as good a job in Indy and Japan."
Round 15 of the FIA Formula One World Championship is the US Grand Prix on Sunday 28 September.
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Round 14: Italian Grand Prix
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