The Honda Racing F1 Team enjoyed its best qualifying performance of the year at the Bahrain International Circuit today. Jenson Button achieved his target of a top 10 grid slot when he posted the 9th fastest lap, while his team-mate Rubens Barrichello will start tomorrow's 57-lap Bahrain Grand Prix from 12th position.
Jenson completed two runs in Q1, in which his second lap - 1:32.793s - was 0.8s quicker than his first effort and placed him an impressive 5th place overall. Rubens also completed two runs and his best lap, 1:32.944s, placed him in 9ｔｈ position.
The track conditions improved throughout qualifying, which resulted in both drivers improving their lap times in Q2. Jenson's best lap, 1:32.362s, was his fastest of the weekend so far and placed him 10th, while Rubens was just 0.2s behind.
Saturday Practice: P16 1:33.600
Qualifying 1: P5 1:32.793
Qualifying 2: P10 1:32.362
Qualifying 3: P9 1:35.057
Q. You must be pleased with your qualifying performance? Did you maximise the current performance of the RA108?
A. "I'm very pleased with our qualifying session today. To make it through to Q3 and be lining up on the clean side of the grid tomorrow in P9 is very satisfying for myself and the team. After struggling a little this morning, we were able to resolve the issues before qualifying and the car felt good this afternoon. We can have a strong race from here so I'm excited about the prospects for tomorrow."
Q. How have you been able to improve the car during the weekend?
A. "We haven't made any significant changes to the car since the first two races so really we are just working hard to optimise the current package. The car is still quite new to us as we only had the new aero package just before the first race of the season, so I'm happy with how this season is progressing. We're moving forward with each race and I'm confident that this will also be the case in Barcelona when our next upgrades arrive."
Saturday Practice: P14 1:33.551
Qualifying 1: P9 1:32.994
Qualifying 2: P12 1:32.508
Qualifying 3: -
Q. How would you sum up your qualifying session today?
A. "I'm quite happy with qualifying today, particularly as we made a lot of improvements to the car since yesterday, so it was a very good job from our engineers overnight. Unfortunately we had a gearbox issue which interfered with my lap during Q2. Without that, I am confident that we could have had a place in the top ten."
Q. What are your expectations for the race tomorrow?
A. "I enjoy this track and if the car is performing well again tomorrow, then I believe that we can be challenging for points here. A small mistake around this track can cost you a lot of time so the key is to keep focused and have confidence in your braking. If we can achieve this, then I'm expecting a good race."
STEVE CLARK, Head of Race & Test Engineering
Q. Are you pleased with the qualifying performances of Jenson and Rubens?
A. "Obviously Jenson getting our first top ten qualifying of the season is very satisfying. He had no 'option' tyres left for the final session so we had no realistic chance to threaten the top half, although finishing ahead of Alonso is helpful for tomorrow. Rubens also had the pace to get to the last session but he had a gearbox problem on his last run which cost him that chance. Rubens was able to pass into Q2 with only one set of option tyres, so he has the advantage of a new set to start the race tomorrow."
Q. What kind of race can we expect to see tomorrow?
A. "The wind could play a big part and we may see the track losing grip for the start of the race. We are running relatively high downforce here so we are hoping this will play into our hands. There is plenty of runoff at this circuit so I wouldn't expect many safety car events tomorrow; there has been just one in the past. There may well be plenty of overtaking, especially as the tyres start to give up grip. We were very happy with our race set-up from Friday and Jenson's car worked well with fuel in the final qualifying session."