Malaysia GP: Race notes - Honda


Both RA107s ran faultlessly in the Malaysian GP, giving the team its second two-car finish of the year.

In extremely tough conditions, the Honda Racing F1 Team drivers drove textbook races in this afternoon's Malaysian Grand Prix to bring their cars home in 11th and 12th places. Rubens Barrichello, who started the race from the pitlane, finished just 0.7s ahead of Jenson Button.

At the start, Jenson lost traction away from his 15th position on the grid and dropped down to 19th place at the first corner. He was then hit by another car at Turn 4, yet he managed to fight his way back to 16th place by the end of the opening lap.

Rubens was released from the pitlane only once the entire field had passed, yet he managed to pass two cars by the end of the first lap, and he did the same again on lap two to be in 18th place.

On lap five Jenson lost a place to Alex Wurz, which left the Honda Racing F1 Team's cars running in formation for the next few laps. The drivers swapped places on lap six, when Rubens overtook Jenson, and that's how the situation remained until Rubens made his first pitstop on lap 12, from which he emerged in 18th place, just behind Jenson.

Jenson didn't make his first pitstop until lap 21, by which time he'd climbed up to 11th place. He emerged from that stop in 16th place, behind Ralf Schumacher, and he moved back onto Rubens' tail on lap 28 when Schumacher pitted.

Rubens peeled into the pitlane on lap 34 for his second stop, which moved Jenson up to 13th place. Four laps later he made his second stop, from which he emerged just 0.7s behind Rubens, which was exactly the gap between them when they passed the chequered flag after 56 laps.

The Honda Racing F1 Team now has less than a week to move its equipment to the Middle East for next weekend's Bahrain Grand Prix. Both Jenson and Rubens tested at the track during the winter, and they are hopeful of another tenacious and reliable performance there.

Rubens Barrichello: We can never be happy finishing 11th but compared with what we had in qualifying yesterday I guess we have had a reasonable race today. For the last two race weekends we've had a bad qualifying and then the races have shown that we could have been closer to the points had we not suffered on Saturdays. For the next race our focus has to be on improving our qualifying performance and that's all we can do to move forward for now.

Jenson Button: A tough race, as we expected. I had a pretty terrible first stint. Sutil drove over the side of my car and there was some damage, although how much of a difference that made I don't know. During the first two stints I was suffering massively due to lack of rear grip. We came down quite a bit with the front wing level for the final stint, went miles forward on the brake bias and took some pressure out of the tyres to improve things slightly. We were still only 12th but after yesterday we can consider this a small step forward.

Jacky Eeckelaert, Engineering Director: Both cars were reliable through what is always a tough race here and finished with no mechanical problems. Rubens drove a very strong race considering the fact that he started from the pitlane, making up an impressive 11 places. Due to a first lap incident, Jenson had some damage to his car but with some adjustment at the final stop he was able to come back and finish less than a second behind his team-mate. Both Jenson and Rubens drive exceptionally well and achieved the maximum possible with the car we have for the moment.

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Published: 08/04/2007
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