Honda disappointed after missed opportunity

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The Honda Racing F1 Team’s driver duo, Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello, battled through atrocious weather conditions at Fuji Speedway today to bring their RA107s home in 10th and 11th positions.

The rain-soaked 67-lap race promised much for the Honda Racing F1 Team, with Jenson lining up in sixth position on the grid. But a coming-together with Nick Heidfeld on lap 21, a throttle problem and a couple of Safety Car periods played against the Briton and he was eventually forced to park his car on the final lap after Takuma Sato hit him and broke his suspension.

The race started behind the Safety Car with both cars on Bridgestone’s extreme wet tyres. Despite running under yellow flags for the early laps, Jenson moved up to fourth place when the Ferraris ahead of him pitted.

The race went green on lap 20 but at the first corner after the re-start Jenson was involved in a collision with Heidfeld and lost his front wing. He encountered a temporary engine sensor problem which slowed him down on his in-lap and after pitting he rejoined the race in last place.

Rubens, meanwhile, started in 17th place. He dropped back to 19th during the early laps, but battled his way through to 12th by the time of the second Safety Car period on lap 42. Jenson at the same stage of the race was up to 17th.

During this final Safety Car period, the drivers moved up to eighth and 13th places following incidents involving several cars ahead of them. Rubens then gained another place when Massa pitted, but seventh was as high as he climbed because he was forced to pit for a splash-‘n’-dash on lap 60. He emerged behind Jenson and crossed the line in 10th place.

The Honda Racing F1 Team now has less than a week to move its equipment to Shanghai for next weekend’s Chinese Grand Prix.

Rubens Barrichello “I’m obviously disappointed that our strategy did not work out today but to be honest, in my view, the race should have been stopped very early on. The conditions were so difficult and it was impossible to see anything for the entire race. We tried to work the conditions to our advantage but the decisions did not work out today. We will put this race behind us now and focus on next weekend in China."

Jenson Button “It’s hugely frustrating that we weren’t able to take advantage of our strong qualifying performance in the race today. The conditions and visibility were so bad that it felt really dangerous out there and it was really difficult to keep the tyres warm enough to be effective. I had already lost my front wing after a coming-together with Heidfeld, then I had an engine sensor problem which put me back in last place. I had to come in to get a new nose and after that it was just a case of trying to stay on the road and pick up positions where possible. All in all it's a real shame as we could have scored some points today but we take some comfort from a good performance yesterday which put a smile on the team’s faces.”

JackY Eeckelaert, Engineering Director “It is disappointing to end our home race in 10th and 11th positions, especially with Jenson having started from the third row of the grid. His ability to challenge for points was unfortunately lost at turn one when he lost his front wing after a coming together with Heidfeld. The visibility was so poor that you cannot blame either driver for that. Rubens drove a steady race from 17th to 10th, but unfortunately the deployment of the safety cars did not match his fuel strategy. We feel we missed out on an opportunity to score some good points today and that is frustrating.”