Honda Racing F1 Team
Jenson Button came home in a fighting fourth place in the Japanese Grand Prix, giving the Honda Racing F1 Team its sixth consecutive points finish of the season. His team-mate, Rubens Barrichello, finished in 12th place after he was forced to make an extra pitstop early in the race to replace a bent front wing.
- Jenson Button
- Rubens Barrichello
At the start, Jenson made an excellent get-away from seventh place on the grid to pass Giancarlo Fisichella through the opening couple of corners. He then spent the opening few laps of the race in sixth place, in the thick of the action.
Rubens, meanwhile, dropped a place away from the line to Nick Heidfeld, but his chances of a points finish ended soon afterwards when he damaged his front wing on another car. He was overtaken by Kimi Raikkonen later on in the lap and was forced into the pits to replace the nosecone, rejoining the race in last place.
Jenson withstood intense pressure from Fisichella in the early laps, but the Italian eventually found a way through on lap four, dropping Jenson back to seventh place. But before his first pitstop on lap 16, he had climbed up to second place as the cars in front pitted before him. He emerged from that stop in 10th place, behind Robert Kubica and ahead of Mark Webber.
On lap 22, Rubens made his first scheduled pitstop from 15th place. He rejoined the race in 20th place and set about climbing back up the order.
On lap 37, Jenson made his second and final pitstop, and he rejoined the race in fifth place after race leader Michael Schumacher retired on the same lap. He climbed to fourth when Kimi Raikkonen pitted, and that’s where he ended the race, 10.1s behind Fisichella.
Rubens stopped for a splash ‘n’ dash of fuel on lap 42 and climbed his way through the backmarkers during the remaining laps to cross the line 12th, 25.5s behind the McLaren of Pedro de la Rosa.
The Honda Racing F1 Team has just one race remaining this year, the Brazilian Grand Prix on 22 October.
- JENSON BUTTON
- "I’m reasonably pleased with 4th place here today. We had a solid race and I think we did the best job possible given the fight going on for the Championship. We started a little better and I overtook a Renault off the line. The tyres came good and we were able to get past the Toyotas. Again, the team did an amazing job in the pitstops; we’ve been right up there since Hockenheim. We just haven’t quite got enough to beat the two Championship contenders right now, but we will get there, trust me! I’m very sad that we won’t be coming back to Suzuka next season because this feels like a home Grand Prix for me. For now though, it’s nice to get another 4th place and pick up five more points for myself and the team."
- RUBENS BARRICHELLO
- "It was very unfortunate that I had another coming together with Heidfeld. He closed the door really fast and I had nowhere else to go so I locked wheels and tapped him. Sadly, I damaged the front wing. After that I was very fast but this is Suzuka where it’s very difficult to overtake. A disappointing result for me in front of our home crowd but I still have my own home race in Brazil to look forward to and hopefully we can do better there and end the season on a high."
- GIL DE FERRAN, Sporting Director
- "Jenson made a good start and gained one position before the first corner. Subsequently, when we saw some of our competitors stop early, we fuelled Jenson relatively long in the middle stint to beat them on both speed and strategy, which was very satisfying. Jenson drove a customary hard-charging and faultless race and once again extracted the best from the car. Unfortunately, Rubens damaged his front wing in the first corner and was playing catch-up from then on.
We leave Suzuka happy to be in the points once again but also sad that we will not be returning next season to a track that has brought so much joy and many exciting moments over the years. Sadly, we have just one more stop before the end of the season. We have enjoyed the challenge so much this year that I wish we could just keep going."
SUPER AGURI F1 TEAM
Over one hundred and twenty thousand fans at the Suzuka Circuit today were able to cheer the SUPER AGURI F1 TEAM drivers’ home as both Takuma Sato and Sakon Yamamoto took the chequered flag at the 2006 Japanese Grand Prix. It is a fantastic result for the young, small team who worked so hard to make the dream of a new F1 team become a reality at the end of 2005. The combination of exceptional team work, at the races and back home at the SAF1 Team factory in Leafield, and close relationships with both engine supplier Honda and Bridgestone tyres, has ensured that the team is now truly competing with nearest rivals Spyker MF1 and Scuderia Toro Rosso.
- Takuma Sato
- Sakon Yamamoto
- TAKUMA SATO
- "This is an absolutely fantastic result for the team – we could not have asked for anything more. Our performance at the beginning of the weekend was not as it should have been, but I believe that we have done everything that we could for the race. The start was very exciting. I overtook a few cars into turn one, but then I got held up and re-overtaken, but then at the Esses I re-overtook Scott Speed, which was an exciting moment. Unfortunately my pace then was not enough and I was overtaken by Speed again. But after I settled into the race the car worked very well and the Bridgestone tyres gave superb performance, so I was able to run competitively. The boys in the team did a tremendous job - I think that the pitstops were the best we have done all season - very quick and very accurate. And the fans were incredible! We had great support and at the end I could see all of the flags shining through the sunlight. For me, counting down the laps to the last lap at Suzuka is a very special feeling, but also very sad as the race is ending and especially as this may be our last race here for a while. I think that the team is really satisfied with our two-car finish today."
- SAKON YAMAMOTO
- "I really appreciate the support from everyone who has come to the race this weekend. Their support gave me the extra power to finish the race. I would like to thank the team, sponsors and everyone who has supported me through my career. It is a fantastic feeling to finish my home grand prix at the Suzuka Circuit, but on the other hand I am a racer, and I always want to go faster, so I will review my race and prepare myself for the next grand prix in Brazil."
- AGURI SUZUKI, Team Principal
- "I would like to say ‘thank you’ to everybody – my team, the fans, everybody who has been supporting us. It is a great result for us to have a two-car finish here and both drivers have done a great job today. At the moment, however, it is a perfect result for us whilst we are still a small and new team. So I am very happy that we have achieved this result here at Suzuka today, especially as it may be the circuit’s last grand prix."