Honda: Frustrating end ...

to Turkish weekend No points for the Honda Racing F1 Team at Istanbul Park.

The Turkish Grand Prix ended in frustration for the Honda Racing F1 Team. Despite everyone’s best efforts to move Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello up the order, they came home pretty much where they’d started, in 11th and 14th places respectively.

In his record-breaking 257th GP start, Rubens got too much clutch slip away from the line, which allowed Jenson – who started one place further back in 13th – to pass him into Turn 1. However, no sooner had the race started than the Safety Car was deployed after a collision at the back of the field between Giancarlo Fisichella and Kazuki Nakajima.The race re-started two laps later, with Jenson and Rubens running in 11th and 12th places after they’d both gained another position when Heikki Kovalainen pitted following a puncture. The Hondas then ran in formation until Rubens made his only pitstop of the race on lap 27, from which he rejoined in 14th position.

On the prime tyre Jenson climbed up to eighth place during this first pitstop window before making his only pitstop of the race on lap 31. He rejoined the race in 11th position, behind Jarno Trulli and ahead of Nelson Piquet, and it was at this stage of the race that the tide turned against him. He struggled for grip on the softer, option tyre – as he had during qualifying yesterday – and in the space of 500 metres he lost two positions at the end of lap 35 and the beginning of lap 36, first to Piquet and then to Kovalainen.

As more rubber went down on the asphalt, the handling of Jenson’s RA108 improved and he started to set competitive lap times. He set his fastest time of the race on the final lap, which was enough to hold off a late-race challenge from Kovalainen and secure 11th position.

"Although I managed to improve slightly on my start position, it was a disappointing race for us,” reflected Jenson. “The start was clean and I had a pretty good first lap, however our pace wasn't as good as we expected it to be during the race. I had a problem on my first stint with the front tyres, caused by the brakes overheating, which cost me a bit of time. We then changed our strategy to a one-stop which worked pretty well. Unfortunately the difference in fuel loads really tells here so it was difficult to hold back the quicker cars behind me who were two-stopping. We need to make some further improvements to the car before we are able to challenge for the points again."

Rubens had a lonely end to his race, coming home in 14th. "It was a frustrating race for us today,” he confirmed. “Unfortunately we did not have the pace to compete and overall I'm disappointed with the performance of the car. I suffered from understeer and traffic in my first stint so we stopped a little bit early to try and get me out into some space. From then on, it was an uneventful run to the end of the race. We have a lot of work to do over the next couple of tests to try to find some pace."

The Honda Racing F1 Team now heads to Paul Ricard for an intensive test session ahead of the next race on the calendar, the Monaco Grand Prix on 25 May. “We should have some visually interesting new parts for Monaco the highest downforce circuit so far,” says Team Principal Ross Brawn. “However, we do not expect Monaco to be the highest downforce track of the year - our calculations show that Singapore will require even more. Montreal is at the opposite end of the spectrum with the demand placed on very high straight line speed."

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