The Honda Racing F1 Team experienced mixed fortunes during yesterday's qualifying for the Canadian Grand Prix.
Rubens Barrichello took his best grid position of the year, whilst Jenson Button's progress was disrupted from the outset by a gearbox problem. Rubens made steady progress with the set-up of his car throughout the day, beginning in the morning's final practice session in which he set the 14th fastest time.
He then improved the balance of his RA108 during Q1 and Q2 and he will start today's 70-lap Canadian Grand Prix from ninth on the grid. Saturday's warmer track temperatures (44°C) would no doubt have helped Jenson as well, but for the gear selection problem he suffered from the start of his first flying lap in Q1. He set a lap time of 1:23.565s before pitting and was confined to the garage for the remainder of the session. He will start the race from 19th position. The weather forecast for Sunday's race is mixed and the drivers are expecting a lot of marbles off-line. It's certain to be an exciting race, with Rubens leading the Honda Racing F1 Team's charge and hoping to add tohis points tally from Monaco.
RUBENS BARRICHELLO Q. Well done on a strong qualifying performance today. Tell us about thesession and how you intend to carry this through to the race tomorrow?
A. "I'm really pleased for myself and the team today. After the points that we scored in Monaco at the last race, this is a great start for the weekend here in Canada. In the hot conditions, the asphalt on the track was breaking up this afternoon and you had to take a good line to avoid running wide where it was so slippery. So it gave me the chance to use my experience to put some good laps in and I had two strong runs in Q1 and Q2 to make it through to the final session. It is nice to qualify in ninth place and we did a solid job today. I can look forward to a good race tomorrow from here."
JENSON BUTTON Q. A frustrating day for you today. What went wrong?
A. "I had a problem with third gear right at the start of Q1 which meant that I had no drive and that was the end of my qualifying today. It's been a pretty tough weekend for us and it's very disappointing to be starting from the back of the grid. We will just have to see how the race develops and take advantage of any opportunities which might arise."
STEVE CLARK Head of Race & Test Engineering
Q. This had all the makings of a challenging weekend for the team, however things appear to have turned out rather more positively than you might have expected following Rubens' strong qualifying position today?
A. "We have worked very hard to improve the car over the course of the weekend and that, coupled with making the most of the tyres and track today, has been the key to a good qualifying result. Credit to Rubens and the whole team for a great effort all round in a high pressure qualifying session today."
Q. A different story for Jenson however. What will you be doing tomorrow to ensure the best possible result for both drivers?
A. "Rubens is starting from a very strong position and we have to have asensible strategy to capitalise on that. It is likely to be a more difficult day for Jenson. However starting at the back gives us the opportunity to take some risks with his strategy in order to put ourselves in a situation where we will be able to take advantage of a safety car scenario and other such opportunities."