|Honda Racing F1 Team
The San Marino Grand Prix ended in disappointment for the Honda Racing F1 Team, with Jenson Button finishing seventh and Rubens Barrichello 10th. Both drivers expected more from the 62-lap race after starting from second (Jenson) and third (Rubens) positions. But events on the track and in the pitlane conspired against them.
At the start, Jenson converted his front row grid position and tucked in behind Michael Schumacher into Turn 1. Rubens, on the other hand, didn't get off the line so well and dropped two places into the first corner.
The Safety Car then came out at the end of the opening lap, following an accident at the back of the field. When the race re-started on lap three, both Honda Racing F1 drivers got away well, providing proof that the team has solved its tyre temperature problems from Australia. The drivers then stayed in third and fifth places until their first pitstops on laps 14 (Rubens) and 15 (Jenson).
At Rubens' first pitstop his fuel rig failed to deliver so the team rapidly switched to Jenson's rig. At Jenson's first stop there was a problem with the right rear wheel nut and then in his second stop the lollipop was lifted momentarily before the fuel nozzle was disconnected. As the car pulled away, a number of mechanics were hit by the fuel hose and knocked over. Some fuel was spilt, but thankfully no one was seriously hurt and fire extinguishers were instantly on stand-by but fortunately were not required.
Rubens made his second and final stop on lap 34, while Jenson made a third stop on lap 44, rejoining the track ninth. By the flag, Jenson had battled his way back to seventh, 1.8s behind Mark Webber. Rubens was 10th, half a minute behind Ralf Schumacher.
The Honda Racing F1 Team now heads to Silverstone for a three-day test session ahead of the next race, the European Grand Prix, on 7 May.
"There is no doubt that we missed out on the chance of a podium today as the car was quick and we had a good strategy. I had a problem at the first pitstop with the right rear wheel going on and then in the second pitstop the lollipop was raised before the fuel hose was disconnected. Unfortunately when that happens, it takes all of the pit crew with it. The Chief Mechanic has lifted the lollipop perfectly hundreds of times before and I know he'll make sure this never happens again. Thankfully, no one was seriously hurt and I know the boys will be back giving it their all at the next race. Today has been disappointing but we had the pace and we have certainly moved forward a lot since Australia. We've said this many times before but we just have to stay focused and keep pushing."
"It was disappointing for us today at the end of what has been a strong weekend. I had a bad start and then lost a lot of time at my first pit stop. The nozzle failed and the team had to switch me to the other one. The pace of the car was okay, particularly on the first run, but it was a bit more difficult in the middle section. The lack of pace was due to the rear tyres locking; even though the brakes have got a lot better, the rears were locking on new tyres. However, the balance of the car is better so we are getting stronger, we just need to work hard at the areas which are catching us out. If it wasn't for the problems with fuelling today, I could have finished in the top six. The team is working well and we're much happier with the tyre-warming issues, so we should make a fresh start in Nürburgring in two weeks."
GIL DE FERRAN - Sporting Director
"Needless to say this was a difficult day for us when unfortunately it all went wrong in the pits. On his first stop, Rubens had a fuel rig failure and on Jenson's second stop the problems were more dramatic but thankfully no one was hurt as a result of the incident. We are certainly all disappointed with the final results, however if we had not had such an uncharacteristically bad day in the pits we would most likely have been fighting for a podium position. Our car pace this weekend was competitive and it is onwards and upwards to the Nürburgring now."
SHUHEI NAKAMOTO - Management Board Member - Honda Racing F1 Team, Engineering Director - Honda Racing Development
"Overall the race was disappointing today. We have not been able to get the best out of the car or ourselves this weekend so we have to refocus for the Nürburgring in two weeks."
SUPER AGURI F1 TEAM
It was a disappointing end to a promising race weekend for the SUPER AGURI F1 TEAM. Following an early collision with Christian Albers which damaged his front-left suspension, Yuji Ide later suffered a mechanical failure ending his race on lap 23. Takuma Sato drove a solid race once again and the team executed his pitstops with rapid precision. Unfortunately, his race ended prematurely at turn 15 on lap 44 resulting in the team’s first double DNF of the season.
“It is disappointing not to finish the race as we have had no reliability issues all weekend. I had a reasonable start to the race and I was able to make up a position, but the car was lacking in pace so I could not improve any further. The boys have done a really great job all weekend and we have made good progress so we shall just keep working hard to improve our performance.”
"I didn't think I was pushing too hard at the start, but when I was exiting the second chicane Albers was the one on the racing line and I could not avoid contacting his car. After the contact the car was not stable in the corners and my front-left suspension was damaged. I later had a rear suspension problem and had to retire from the race. My lap times were a little faster this weekend, so I want to keep my rhythm and do better in the next race."
Aguri Suzuki, Team Principal
"I knew that this would be a tough race as the circuit here makes conditions difficult for us. The team was very excited coming to Italy and has tried its best to get a good result for the first European grand prix. I know that our performance level is not high at the moment, but I see the team and drivers working very hard, so I regret that we have not been able to provide them with a new car as yet. Until we introduce the SA06 we will face a hard time, but we have very high spirits and I believe that the team will continue to do its best.”