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Formula One World Championship 2006

Round 03: Australian GP

  • Race Results
  • Qualifying
April 2, 2006

The Australian Grand Prix promised much for the Honda Racing F1 Team, but ultimately delivered little

Honda Racing F1 Team

The Honda Racing F1 Team endured a frustrating Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne. Pole sitter Jenson Button retired within sight of the finish line and Rubens Barrichello came home in seventh place.

Jenson Button
Jenson Button
Jenson Button
Jenson Button

Following his fantastic performance in yesterday’s qualifying session, Jenson had high hopes for today’s 57-lap race. Everything started well: on a competitive fuel load he led the field into Turn 1 and was able to resist the challenges of world champion Fernando Alonso.

However, a crash further down the field brought out the first of four Safety Cars during the race and this was when Jenson’s problems began. The slow pace behind the Safety Car caused the handling of his RA106 to drop off and Alonso overtook him after the re-start on lap three.

The second Safety Car appeared on lap six following another accident and, when the race re-started on lap eight, Jenson lost another place to Kimi Raikkonen. And his problems weren’t over because a fuel pick-up problem cost him four seconds as he approached his first pitstop on lap 19.

Further back, Rubens made steady progress from his 16th position on the grid. By lap three, he was up to 13th place and was looking good for his hoped-for points finish.

Following his first pitstop, Jenson rejoined the race in ninth place and immediately began to climb through the field. He was up to fifth by the time of the third Safety Car on lap 33, when he pitted to take advantage of the yellow flag conditions. When the race re-started on lap 36, he was in fourth place, but lost two places on the opening lap.

The Safety Car was brought out again on lap 37, but Jenson retained his sixth place at the re-start, which became fifth when Juan Pablo Montoya crashed in front of him.

Two corners from the finish, Jenson’s engine began to tighten and it expired on the pitstraight, in sight of the chequered flag. Jenson’s retirement promoted Rubens to seventh place.

There is now a three-week break until the next race at Imola, during which time Honda has test sessions planned at Vallelunga and Barcelona.

"It’s disappointing to end the weekend as we did today after starting the race in pole position. The way the race panned out with the four safety cars left me struggling for grip after each restart and I lost so much time and so many places. I could feel that something was wrong with the engine in turn 13 and it was a difficult way to end the race after such a long hard battle. The car is strong when we have tyre temperature, but when we don’t we have massive grip problems. We have two weeks of testing before Imola and hopefully we can solve these problems."
"It was very frustrating that Jenson was unable to finish the race. Although we didn’t have the pace to fight very hard, it was disappointing to see him go out like that. I struggled the whole race with the brakes and it was impossible for me to overtake, although I was able to get past Speed and gain position. I have a couple of points at least, so in that respect at least my season is underway now. I think we all realize what a lot of work there is to do in the next couple of weeks in testing if we are to start the European season in a more competitive position."
GIL DE FERRAN, Sporting Director
"Jenson had a very difficult time to warm up the tyres at the start and every restart after that, which meant that he progressively lost places in those situations. The same issue troubled both drivers. Then we had an engine failure on the last turn. Rubens had a tough race through the field and did a good job to finish in the points. We were unlucky with him on the second outing for the safety car since we elected to keep him out to gain track position, but the plan didn't work when he encountered traffic. Overall we were certainly hoping for more but despite the disappointment we will continue to keep pushing. There are two tests prior to Imola where we will be able to look into some of the issues that afflicted us here."
SHUHEI NAKAMOTO, Management Board Member - Honda Racing F1 Team, Engineering Director - Honda Racing Development
"We’ll be studying the data to work out the cause of Jenson’s engine problem. We’re sorry his efforts did not bring him any points today. He drove a strong race but struggled for grip after the safety car periods. Rubens did well to score his first points of the season. We have lots to work on in testing to get where we need to be."


Following an action-packed Australian Grand Prix, SUPER AGURI F1 TEAM drivers Takuma Sato and Yuji Ide both came home safely to finish the race in 12 th and 13 th positions respectively. The 57-lap spectacle featured numerous incidents and safety car outings right up to the very end, but the SAF1 Team drivers both drove a solid race despite experiencing a few minor problems of their own.

Takuma Sato
Takuma Sato
Yuji Ide
Yuji Ide
"At the start of the race I was driving side-by-side with many other cars for position and I was able to work my way up to the middle of the pack – it was very exciting and I really enjoyed it. Although the safety car came out three times today it was very good training for us and I am happy that we managed to complete our actions successfully. Unfortunately though I had a problem with my left-front wheel and had to come into the pits towards the end of the race. At the end of the next lap I had another wheel problem, this time with my front-right, and so I had to finish the race in the pitlane. I am a little disappointed that I did not take the chequered flag as the boys had done such a great job today, but it was still a great day for the team."
"This is the first time that both Taku and I have finished a race, so I am happy about that. However, I am far from being competitive compared to the other drivers, so I want to improve my driving skills and learn the next circuit as quickly as possible. I will be testing in Barcelona in a week’s time, so I will be able to spend more time in the car and learn more of the skills that I need to improve."
AGURI SUZUKI, Team Principal
"It was such a dramatic race today. So many things happened, including with our cars, but I am glad to say that we have accomplished our very first team goal which was to have both cars finish the race. Although it is a small one, it is always a good feeling to accomplish your goal. I am sure that it was a difficult race for the drivers and the team, so I am grateful to all of them for their hard work."
Formula One World Championship
Round 03: Australian GP
Rank Driver (Team)
1 Fernando Alonso (Renault)
2 Kimi Raikkonen (McLaren)
3 Ralf Schumacher (Toyota)
4 Nick Heidfeld (Sauber)
5 Giancarlo Fisichella (Renault)
6 Jacques Villeneuve (Sauber)
7 Rubens Barrichello (Honda Racing F1)
8 David Coulthard (Red Bull Racing)
9 Scott Speed (Torro Rosso)
10 Jenson Button (Honda Racing F1)
11 Christijan Albers (MF1 Racing)
12 Takuma Sato (Super Aguri F1)
13 Yuji Ide (Super Aguri F1)
DNF Juan Pablo Montoya (McLaren)
DNF Tiago Monteiro (MF1 Racing)
DNF Vitantonio Liuzzi (Torro Rosso)
DNF Michael Schumacher (Ferrari)
DNF Mark Webber (Williams)
DNF Christian Klien (Red Bull Racing)
DNF Jarno Trulli (Toyota)
DNF Nico Rosberg (Williams)
DNF Felipe Massa (Ferrari)

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