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Formula 1March 05, 2005
Formula One World Championship
Round 01: Australian GP Qualifying 1

B·A·R Honda Hampered By Melbourne Weather

Race Results >>

Ever-changing weather conditions created havoc - and a surprise result - in first qualifying for tomorrow's Australian Grand Prix.



Jenson Button


Jenson Button


A topsy-turvy first qualifying session for tomorrow's Australian Grand Prix left Lucky Strike B·A·R Honda driver Jenson Button in eighth place and sent Takuma Sato aquaplaning into the barrier. Fortunately Takuma was unhurt, but he will be forced to start tomorrow's race from the back of the grid.

Rather than being a guage of car and driver performance, this first qualifying session of the year was all about the weather. The track was wet to begin with, but dried mid-session - when the fastest times were set - before a final downpour flooded it for the final runners.

Both B·A·R Honda drivers were hampered by the running order, which was taken from the results of last year's Brazilian Grand Prix - a race in which Jenson retired and Takuma finished sixth - but run in reverse. Jenson was the fifth car out, when the track was still wet, and in greasy conditions he immediately went fastest (1m41.512s). He subsequently slipped down to eighth as the session progressed and the track dried.

Takuma was the 15th car to qualify, joining the track in the middle of the monsoon conditions. On his warm-up lap, his car aquaplaned off the track into the barrier, ripping off the front wing of his car and damaging the front and rear suspension. He immediately radioed the team to say that he was fine, but added that he "couldn't do anything to prevent the accident".

The fastest time of the session was set by Giancarlo Fisichella, who posted a time of 1m33.171s in dry conditions. His lap was 24 seconds faster than reigning World Champion Michael Schumacher, who was hit by the worst of the conditions on his lap.

In this morning's free practice sessions, Jenson struggled with oversteer, which was resolved by set-up changes for qualifying. Takuma completed 17 laps until he was stopped by an electrical fault with five minutes of the second session remaining.

Tonight, both drivers head to the Melbourne Motorshow, where they will be meeting fans on the Honda stand.



Takuma Sato


Takuma Sato


Jenson Button, Position: 8th
"The weather conditions haven't exactly given us the best start to the first qualifying session of the season. Judging by the way the weather turned again after my run I was luckier than I thought I would be. The car was very bad this morning when the track was damp and we were off the pace. We changed the rear-end for qualifying and it was a big improvement. The weather has thrown things slightly for us but at least we know we are heading in the right direction again. I won't make any predictions for tomorrow though because I'd say today has left everything wide open."

Takuma Sato, Position:19th
"It's been a very mixed day for us. The car stopped at the end of free practice with an electrical problem and the wet weather didn't help our progress. The track started to dry again early in the qualifying session but when it was time for me to leave the garage the rain started again and was very heavy. With intermediate tyres it was impossible to drive the car in those conditions. I tried my best in very difficult circumstances but there was nothing I could do. All I can do now is try my hardest from the back of the grid for the race on Sunday."

Geoffrey Willis - Technical Director
"In variable track conditions,this afternoon's qualifying was always going to be quite a lottery.With the track starting damp, Jenson's early position in the qualifying order put him at quite a disadvantage. Despite a good lap on wet tyres it dried very quickly and he was pushed down to eighth position. Just as the circuit had dried enough for several runners to use dry tyres, a heavy rain shower interrupted the running and no-one else was able to improve, fortunately leaving Jenson in a reasonable position for tomorrow's qualifying. However given the large time gaps between the positions, the new aggregate qualifying format it is unlikely to lead to substantial changes for tomorrow's race. Although today's running was difficult due to the mixed weather conditions and some car problems, we were fairly happy with our pace at the end of the morning and will now focus on our strategy for tomorrow's race. Takuma then followed out shortly after the start of the heavy rain on intermediate tyres, but with the car aquaplaning right from the pit exit he crashed at turn eight on his out lap. We will have to see from the level of damage whether we will repair his race car in time for tomorrow or use the T-car."

Shuhei Nakamoto - Engineering Director, Honda Racing Development
"Taku obviously had no luck today - the weather in qualifying and he had an electrical problem in Free practice. Jenson didn't have much luck either. Having said that we have concentrated up to now on the most important part of the weekend, the race. So let's see what we can do tomorrow."

Formula One World Championship
Round 01: Australian GP Qualifying 1


line
1 G FISICHELLA (Renault)
2 J TRULLI (Toyota)
3 M WEBBER (Williams)
4 J VILLENEUVE (Sauber)
5 C KLIEN (RedBull)
6 D COULTHARD (RedBull)
7 N HEIDFELD (Williams)
8 J BUTTON (B·A·R Honda)
9 N KARTHIKEYAN (Jordan)
10 K RAIKKONEN (McLaren)
11 JP MONTOYA (McLaren)
12 R BARRICHELLO (Ferrari)
13 T MONTEIRO (Jordan)
14 F ALONSO (Renault)
15 C ALBERS (Minardi)
16 P FRIESACHER (Minardi)
17 R SCHUMACHER (Toyota)
18 M SCHUMACHER (Ferrari)
19 T SATO (B·A·R Honda)
20 F MASSA (Sauber)

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