The 2008 Formula One World Championship reached its conclusion this afternoon in Brazil, where the Honda Racing F1 Team's RA108s came home in 13th and 15th positions. Rubens Barrichello and Jenson Button both improved on their 15th and 17th grid positions to give the team its 10th two-car finish of the year.
A thrilling season-finale had everyone guessing before it had even begun, when a rain shower on the grid forced the start to be delayed while the cars switched to wet weather tyres. Both Honda drivers then made good get-aways and managed to steer clear of trouble at the first corner, where David Coulthard ended his final Grand Prix in the barrier and brought out the Safety Car.
The race restarted at the beginning of lap five with Rubens in 11th place and Jenson in 14th. Rubens lost a position to Nick Heidfeld on lap six and on the following lap Jenson became one of the first drivers to pit for dry tyres. Rubens switched to dries on lap nine and the Honda drivers circulated in the midfield for the middle segment of the race.
On lap 33 Jenson made his second pitstop, from which he rejoined in 15th place. Rubens made his second stop on lap 40, emerging just ahead of Jenson. They changed positions at Turn 1 on lap 43 and circulated in formation until Jenson made his third pitstop on lap 56.
Rubens pitted for what should have been the final time on lap 64, just as rain was starting to fall again and Jenson followed a lap later, both cars switching to extreme wets. Just four laps from the end, Rubens was forced to pit again after his tyres completely overheated because they did not suit the conditions, making this a busy day for the pit crew who performed eight faultless pitstops.
Talk us through your race today and the calls that you made on strategy?
Jenson Button: "I had a good start to the race, making up three positions out of the first couple of corners, however from there we suffered from being held up in traffic. We made an unusual call on my strategy, pitting early and switching to what would have been a three-stop programme to avoid the traffic situation. When I did have clean air, the car's performance was actually not bad, however unfortunately the strategy didn't really work out for us. We then needed to stop again for wet tyres at the end of the race anyway and fitting the extreme wets didn't pay off for us. This weekend brings a difficult and frustrating season to a close for our team but I am proud of the way in which we have persevered and maintained our motivation right to the last race."
Your home Grand Prix produced an exciting outcome today. How was your race?
Rubens Barrichello: "It was a crazy race with the weather playing a big role in the result today. It was actually quite a competitive race for us in the context of the car's performance and I was running just outside the top ten before the final pit stop. When the rain came right at the end of the race, we took a gamble by fitting the extreme wets, thinking that it might pay off if the rain was particularly heavy. That didn't work out for us and I dropped a few places when I was forced to stop again just three laps later because the tyres completely overheated. We've always done our utmost to extract the maximum performance from the car this year and it is a credit to us that this resulted in a podium finish at Silverstone. Thank you to everyone at the team for keeping their heads up during a difficult year."
Sum up your final race of the season today? To check out our Brazilian GP gallery, click here
Ross Brawn, Team Principal: The sudden shower just prior to the start of the race set the tone for what was always going to be a very exciting race here today. We fitted the standard wet tyres, which was the correct choice by the time we began the race following the delayed start. When the conditions improved, we were amongst the earlier cars to stop for dry tyres and both drivers gained positions because of that. In the ensuing laps, the cars were running together and being held up in traffic so we decided to pit Jenson early and split the remainder of the race, leaving Rubens running to plan. In the end, as the race continued to unfold, this strategy favoured Rubens. With the advancing rain at the end of the race we pitted both cars and fitted the extreme wet tyres. This was a large roll of the dice in anticipation of a potentially torrential downpour which, had it paid off, could have moved us much further up the field. Unfortunately the level of rain did not exceed the limits of the standard wet tyre that everyone else had opted for, however from where we were in the field it was a risk we could afford to take. Today we close the book on a difficult season for our team and look forward to concentrating all our efforts on 2009. Finally, I would like to congratulate Lewis Hamilton on winning the Drivers' Championship and Ferrari on securing the Constructors' title. It has been a very exciting season for the sport and today's race was a fitting finale to a fantastic championship fought with a great spirit."