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Formula 1MalaysiaMarch 21, 2004
Formula One World Championship
Round 2: Malaysian GP

Honda-powered podium for Jenson Button in Malaysia
Button on the podium for first time with B·A·R Honda

Lucky Strike B·A·R Honda’s Jenson Button drove a superb race to finish on the podium at the Malaysian Grand Prix, crossing the line in third place to score the first podium of his F1 career. Takuma Sato also drove a strong race from the back of the grid, forcing his way into a point-scoring position before his race was cut short just three laps from the end by an engine problem.

As the drivers prepared to start the formation lap for the Malaysian Grand Prix the air and track temperatures registered a comparatively cool 34 and 42 degrees, and the light rain, which had been forecast throughout the weekend, finally arrived. However, the shower came and went before the lights went out to signal the start of the 56 lap race.

Jenson Button got away well from sixth on the grid, dodging the Jaguar of Mark Webber who had a slow start, and touching wheels with Renault’s Jarno Trulli as they fought for fifth place. The B·A·R Honda driver enjoyed an exciting battle with the Italian, trading places with him during the first few laps, finally securing fifth place for himself on lap three.

By lap 10 Button was running in second position as the first of the three-stoppers began to pit. The Briton came in for his first of three scheduled stops on lap 12, at the same time as race leader Juan Pablo Montoya (Williams), and as he rejoined the track to resume fifth place he narrowly missed Trulli’s Renault. Button was running in third place when he came in for his second stop on lap 26 as others had pitted earlier. He rejoined in fifth place ahead of McLaren’s Kimi Raikkonen, and moved up into third position by lap 28 as Williams' Ralf Schumacher retired and Ferrari’s Rubens Barrichello pitted.

Button maintained a three second margin between himself and fourth-placed Raikkonen until he pitted for the third and final time on lap 40, rejoining in fourth place as the Finn retired from the action. Barrichello pitted four laps later, moving the Briton up to third position. With an 8.1 second gap to the Brazilian and just eight laps to go, tension mounted as Button raced towards a podium finish. From sixth on the grid, Button completed a blistering drive to bring his B·A·R Honda 006 home in third place and score the first podium of his F1 career and collect six well-deserved championship points.

Having failed to record a time in yesterday’s qualifying session, Takuma Sato started from the back of the grid in 20th place alongside Renault’s Fernando Alonso, who also failed to set a qualifying time. Sato got a great start and, along with Alonso, fought his way through the field to 11th place by the end of lap one but fell back to 15th by lap three. The sixth lap saw the Japanese driver spin off into the gravel but he managed to keep going and rejoin the action in 16th place. Having moved up to seventh by lap 12, Sato came in for his first of two scheduled stops on lap 14, one of the last drivers to do so. Just two laps later the Honda-powered driver was running in 11th position and lapping faster than race leader Michael Schumacher.

Sato was on a charge and when he came in for his second and final pit stop on lap 36 he was running in eighth place. After a good clean stop of 6.8 seconds, the B·A·R Honda driver rejoined in ninth position behind Alonso, moving back up to eighth on lap 41 due to the retirement of Raikkonen. Sato continued to push hard and enjoy a scrap with Alonso but his race was cut short when his engine failed just three laps from the end.

Ferrari’s Michael Schumacher won the Malaysian Grand Prix and was joined on the podium by Juan Pablo Montoya (Williams) and B·A·R Honda’s Jenson Button. Fourth and fifth place were taken by Rubens Barrichello (Ferrari) and Renault’s Jarno Trulli. McLaren’s David Coulthard, Renault’s Fernando Alonso and Sauber’s Felipe Massa took the final three point-scoring positions.

Shuhei Nakamoto – Engineering Director, Honda Racing Development
"It’s a great feeling to be on the podium again. Jenson drove a brilliant race, and the whole team worked really well over this weekend to make it possible. It was a real shame we had an engine problem with Taku’s car after he too showed excellent race pace and was running in a points-scoring position near the end. This is the first step, and we still have a lot of work to do, but it shows we are heading in the right direction."

Jenson Button Position: 3rd
"There are no words to describe the feeling of your first podium and this one has been a long time coming. It’s a fantastic result for the team in only our second race of the season and I’m delighted for everyone - the team, Honda and all our partners - because they have worked so hard for this. It was a tough race but so enjoyable because we were very competitive. Everyone has done a great job over the winter and made such a good step forward. This really is a sign that B·A·R has some very exciting times ahead."

Takuma Sato Position: DNF
"Obviously it was extremely disappointing that we weren’t able to finish the race with only three laps to go. The car was very strong and we had good race pace. Unlike many of the drivers, we chose a two-stop strategy but it was working very well. I had a very good start and was determined to make up places off the grid. I was up to 11th by the end of the first lap and then obviously I wanted to keep pushing because I knew a points finish was within my grasp. Unfortunately I made a mistake at turn 6 at the time when the track was starting to get damp and as a result I went off. I was able to rejoin the race and I just put everything I had into getting back into the top 8. I concentrated hard on every lap and it was great to be racing with the Renault at the end. Despite the disappointment, I’m very happy for the team and we have shown today that there are some very exciting race performances to come from all of us.."

Formula One World Championship
Round 2: Malaysian GP
1 M Schumacher (Ferrari)
2 J Montoya (Williams)
3 J Button (B·A·R Honda)
4 R Barrichello (Ferrari)
5 J Trulli (Renault)
15 T Sato (B·A·R Honda)
Jenson Button

Jenson Button
Jenson Button
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