The Honda Racing F1 Team's Jenson Button will lead the challenge of the Japanese teams in their home grand prix at Fuji tomorrow when he lines up on the grid in sixth position. He delivered a fantastic qualifying performance in wet weather and used all his driver skill to push his RA107 to the limit in the poor conditions and progress through to Q3.
His team-mate Rubens Barrichello had a disappointing session when a small mistake on his flying lap cost him a place in Q2 by just 0.1 sec. He will start from 17th position.
This morning's free practice session was abandoned due to rain and low cloud which meant that the medical helicopter would not be able to fly in the event of an incident. Both Honda Racing F1 Team drivers had completed just two installation laps each earlier in the session when there was a brief interlude in the conditions.
Qualifying got underway in similarly wet and cloudy weather and the drivers started the session by getting a feel for the track conditions. Both reported very low grip. As continuous running established a dry line, conditions began to improve and the lap times started to tumble rapidly. It was in the frantic closing moments of the session that Rubens had a moment in turn five which allowed Liuzzi to squeeze him out of contention for Q2.
Jenson easily qualified for the second session in 10th position then improved to sixth place in Q2 to earn him a place in the final shoot-out for the third time this year. He ended the day as the seventh fastest driver but will start tomorrow's Japanese Grand Prix from the third row of the grid in sixth position.
Jenson Button: I love these wet conditions! A really good qualifying session today and I am obviously pleased that we put in a strong performance at our home race and in front of all the Honda fans here at Fuji. They were pretty tough conditions out there with the track getting greasy towards the end and it was difficult to know which tyres to be on. The team did a great job in deciding our strategy and we definitely got the best of the car in Q1 and Q2. The third session was more difficult as we were running our race fuel levels but I'm happy to have qualified seventh but be starting from sixth on the grid tomorrow. The driver can really make a difference in these conditions so we will be hoping for a wet race as we have a great starting position and there is everything to play for at this end of the grid. I'm really looking forward to the race tomorrow and if it is wet then we have a chance to score some points.
Rubens Barrichello: I am very frustrated to have lost the chance to go into the second qualifying session by only 0.1sec today. The car was capable of a lot more performance in these wet conditions. Nevertheless I am happy for the team as Jenson did a good job today. It will be a challenging race from here but this track does have some overtaking opportunities so I will put up a good fight to do my best in the team's home race.
Jacky Eeckelaert, Engineering Director: In free practice this morning both Jenson and Rubens did only two laps on extreme-wets and reported that the wet track had good grip on those tyres. Then the session was aborted and we went straight into qualifying. This session was wet again and we decided to go for the wet tyres as with 22 cars on the track, the standing water would disappear quickly and then the extreme wet would probably overheat within just a few laps. Rubens was competitive at the start of the session but at the end of Q1, when the track became faster, he had a moment in turn five and did not make it through to Q2. Jenson progressed easily from Q1 to Q3. In the last session he qualified in an excellent seventh position but we are obviously even more pleased that he will be starting from P6 on the grid tomorrow due to Rosberg's engine change penalty.
To check out our Fuji qualifying gallery, click here