The Honda Racing F1 Team endured a frustrating Belgian Grand Prix this afternoon. Rubens Barrichello finished in 13th position and Jenson Button was forced to retire on lap 37. The RA107 lacked consistency around the demanding seven-kilometre Spa-Francorchamps circuit, which made it difficult to drive over a race distance. As a result, the team adopted a one-stop strategy to maximise their chances of a reasonable result.
At the start, both drivers got away well. Jenson was 12th on the grid and managed to retain that position through the notoriously tight La Source hairpin on the opening lap. It was the same story for Rubens, back in 17th place.
The drivers battled their way up the order during the opening segment of the race, helped by the cars ahead of them pitting early on their two-stop strategies. Jenson then became the first of the Honda Racing F1 Team’s drivers to pit at the end of lap 24. He had climbed up to 11th position by this point and rejoined the race in 15th place.
Rubens stayed out two laps longer than his team-mate, pitting from 12th place at the end of lap 26. He rejoined in 17th position and spent the remainder of the race fighting with Liuzzi.
Disappointment was to strike on lap 37 when Jenson slowed two-thirds of the way around the lap. He made it back to the pits, but was forced to retire with hydraulic failure. Rubens went on to cross the line in 13th position.
The team moves to Jerez this week, where it will test some aerodynamic updates on the RA107 ahead of the next race, the Japanese Grand Prix on 30 September.
Rubens Barrichello “This has been a pretty frustrating weekend for us because we have been struggling with the car from start to finish. Today, carrying that amount of fuel for a one-stop strategy, the rears were locking badly and I was fighting the car the whole race. Now we have to look forward to Tuesday, the start of our test in Jerez, where we will test the car in a different configuration - hopefully a better one so we can make some progress in the remaining three races.”
Jenson Button “It’s always disappointing to retire from a race but it was six laps less pain as the car was so difficult to drive. We expected a tough race this weekend, having tested the revised circuit back in July, so it was no surprise that the car has not been working well here. It was a tough race and the car was changing from huge oversteer to understeer throughout the lap. Then the clutch started slipping, the power steering failed and it was clear we had experienced a hydraulic failure. Disappointing, but we head to Jerez next week with new developments for our home race in Japan and let’s hope for better things in Fuji.”
Jacky Eeckelaert, Engineering Director “Our race result today reflects our qualifying positions and that was the most we could hope for really. On this high-speed track our car is simply not fast enough to get us into the points on merit and today there were no reliability issues at the front of the field. We adopted a one-stop strategy, which was the right choice from where we started, and both Jenson and Rubens did a good job with a very difficult car. Next week we will be testing a new aero package in Jerez, which will be used for the remaining three races. We hope to be able to demonstrate the benefit of all the hard work that has been taking place back at base over the past few weeks.”