|Honda Racing F1 Team
After a promising qualifying session yesterday, in which Jenson Button qualified third and Rubens Barrichello sixth, today’s Bahrain Grand Prix ended in frustration for the Honda Racing F1 Team drivers.
Jenson Button & Rubens Barrichello
Jenson finished the 57-lap race in fourth place, while Rubens was one lap down in 15th place, having been plagued by a gearbox problem for most of the race.
Jenson was compromised from the start when a clutch problem caused him to make a slow get-away from the grid and was only fifth into Turn 1, one place behind team-mate Rubens. The two Honda drivers then had a close dice for several laps, until Jenson got ahead at the start of lap four.
They were then elevated to fourth and fifth places when Felipe Massa spun out of third place on lap seven, which is where the Honda drivers stayed until Rubens made his first pitstop on lap 16. He rejoined the race in 12th place, but was unable to make significant progress because he lost a gear, which greatly reduced the performance of his RA106 race car.
Jenson made his first pitstop on lap 18, rejoining in eighth, and he then set about charging back up the field. On lap 29, he made a sensational pass on Juan Pablo Montoya for fourth, which became third when the one-stopping Kimi Raikkonen pitted on lap 30.
Jenson led the race for one lap before making his second and final pitstop on lap 40, and he quickly closed onto the tail of Raikkonen, which is where he spent the final 15 laps of the race. At the flag, he was only 0.6s adrift.
Honda now has just one week in which to move its equipment to Malaysia for the second race of the season, where there is everything to play for.
Position: 4th / Best lap time: 1:32.729
"Had I not had such a bad start then this could have been a great race for us. The pace of the car was absolutely there but the strategy didn’t pan out because I lost places off the start and wasn’t where we had planned to be at the pitstops. We may not have a podium but we have a very competitive car and if you look at the lap times when we weren’t in traffic we were genuinely as quick as anyone out there. I think we go to Malaysia feeling extremely positive. If we can address the clutch issue which caused the problem with the start we will be able to fight even harder with the competition."
Position: 15th / Best lap time: 1:33.840
"It’s a disappointing way to finish my first race for the team but in the early stages we saw a taste of our potential. Jenson and I had a great race with each other early on which I’m sure got a few people excited! Soon after though I knew we had a gearbox problem and I had to try to race with one gear missing. I was unable to push and had no chance of a points finish, so it wasn’t a good way for me to spend the race. We know that the pace is there so we just have to resolve our problems for next weekend when I’m sure we will have a much better race."
GIL DE FERRAN, SPORTING DIRECTOR
"Jenson drove a brilliant race, pushing hard throughout and showing that we had very similar pace to the leaders. Unfortunately he had a clutch problem at the start which dropped him back and ended up compromising the whole race. Rubens was running well early on but he lost the use of a gear which wiped out his chances. We come away from Bahrain disappointed with our final result but at the same time very encouraged by the performance of our car and drivers and looking forward to Malaysia."
SHUHEI NAKAMOTO, ENGINEERING DIRECTOR, HONDA RACING DEVELOPMENT
"A disappointing result. Looking at the positives, Jenson’s pace matched that of Fernando and Michael for most of the afternoon, and he drove his customary strong race throughout, but the start spoiled his chances of a better finish. It was a shame for Rubens that his debut race for us was affected by a gearbox problem. The V8 engine has been strong the whole weekend, and we remain positive for next week."
SUPER AGURI F1 TEAM
Takuma Sato came home to complete the SUPER AGURI F1 TEAM team’s inaugural Formula One Grand Prix at the Bahrain International Circuit today. Team mate Yuji Ide made a gallant effort during his F1 racing debut following an early drive-through penalty, fuel rig complications and finally a stop out on track due to a mechanical problem with only 10 laps of the grand prix remaining.
Position: 18th / Best lap time: 1:37.104
“It is a fantastic result for us. I think that the boys in the garage deserve to be happy because they worked so hard to get us here to Bahrain. Although today we had radio communication and fuel rig problems, which is why there was some confusion during our pitstops, I think that everyone in the team has done a really good job. It is a positive step for us and I am very happy with today’s result. It was only a shame for Yuji that we could not bring the two cars’ home, but it is the great start that the team needed.”
Position: DNF(Lap 35) / Best lap time: 1:38.302
"I wanted to finish the race very much but the engine just stopped. I had the same problem as I had on Friday. Earlier in the race I couldn't put the gear into neutral so I over-ran at the pit stop. I don't know what I could do to make the car better but I know the mechanics have been working hard so I feel bad for my lack of experience. I will review the problem with engineers and I will do my best to finish the next race in Malaysia.”
Aguri Suzuki, Team Principal
“"Well this race was like a test for us. All that happened and what we were testing was something we should have done during the winter season. We will learn through each race and today was a good lesson for us. I spoke to both drivers before the race and told them that the most important thing for us to do today is to finish and from that experience, learn as much as possible. Taku did a good job.
“Yuji told me that he really wanted to finish the race, but he will have to improve step-by-step - so every single race will be a great lesson for him. He just needs more experience and the team will improve the car for both drivers."