Bahrain GP: Race notes - Honda


After a promising performance in qualifying, the Honda Racing F1 Team's race today was rather more frustrating. Rubens Barrichello brought his RA108 home in 11th position whilst Jenson Button was forced to retire at one-third distance.

Rubens ran in 12th position for the opening stint of the race. He was held behind Fisichella for a substantial distance and had to wait until the first pitstops to make his move. They pitted on the same lap and the Honda pit crew did a fantastic job to get Rubens out ahead. He made his second pitstop on lap 42 and went on to finish just 0.6s behind Alonso in 11th place after following Alonso very closely for 15 laps.

At the start, Jenson gained one position to be eighth, but his hopes of a competitive finish ended at turn five of the opening lap where he sustained a puncture to his right rear tyre. He was forced to pit and he rejoined the race in 20th position. Jenson was lapping very competitively before he clashed with Coulthard on lap 19. Jenson pitted initially for a new nose, before retiring two laps later with extensive damage to the rear end of the car which rendered it unraceworthy.

How was your race today?
Rubens Barrichello: "It was a good race for us today in terms of the pace of the car. I didn't have a very good start and it was chaotic on the first lap with others going off the track. I was able to avoid any collisions but lost a few positions in the process. After that I was stuck behind Fisichella and lost a lot of time until the team did a great job with my first pit-stop to get me out ahead of him on the road. From then on, the car felt good and I could start closing the gap to the pack ahead."

What have you learnt from the RA108 this weekend?
RB: "Overall we have had a very positive weekend in Bahrain. The car has shown the pace required to make Q3 and the lap times look good from the race today. I have successfully completed my third full race distance of the season which shows strong reliability. Unfortunately we lacked the straight-line speed necessary to overtake on the long straights here today which compromised our race. I'm confident that the developments that we have coming for the next few races will see us continue to improve and enable us to challenge for points."

A disappointing outcome to a race that held real promise for you. How are you feeling?
Jenson Button: "I got a good start and was able to make up a couple of places off the line and then I'm not sure what happened into turn five. I was hit from behind, got a puncture and had to pit, which really ruined my race from the first lap. After we'd changed the tyres, the pace of the car was really good and I felt very comfortable with the balance. The lap times were very good for the car that we have at the moment so I was disappointed to be so far down the field following the first lap incident."

Tell us about the coming together with David Coulthard?
JB: "I caught up with David quite quickly as he seemed to be struggling and I had a go at passing him down into turn eight. I committed early as he hit the brakes, when it was evident that there was a gap where I could get a huge run on him down into the apex. Unfortunately he moved back over to the racing line late in the braking zone and I had nowhere to go and couldn't slow the car down in time. We had to retire as there was significant damage to the rear of the car. It's a very frustrating way to end what could have been a really good race but we will take the positives from this weekend with our first top ten qualifying position and the pace of the car today. We now look ahead to Barcelona where we will have a lot of new developments and I'm confident that we will take a further step forward."

Are you pleased to see further signs of encouragement in today's race?
Ross Brawn, Team Principal: "Jenson got a great start but unfortunately the puncture put him out of contention. His early pace was very competitive though, matching the front runners. Rubens lost time following Fisichella but otherwise he had the pace to score points. Both our qualifying and race pace are gradually improving race by race as we continue to work on the set-up."

As we head into the European season, tell us about Honda's preparation for the Spanish Grand Prix?
RB: "We have a four-day test in Barcelona where we will evaluate our major aero upgrade. Obviously most teams will also be making improvements however we hope our step will be larger than most. We also have a straight-line test in Menorca to measure the new aero package full size."

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    Published: 06/04/2008
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