Frustrating French GP for Honda

The Honda Racing F1 Team's Rubens Barrichello made the best of a frustrating French Grand Prix weekend today when he brought his RA108 home in 14th having battled from 20th place on the grid. Rubens fought hard with the cars that he was able to compete with and the six positions that he gained saw the biggest improvement by any driver in the race.

His team-mate Jenson Button, on the other hand, had a short-lived race. The handling of his car was affected from the outset by a first corner collision with Sebastien Bourdais. The damage from that incident did not become fully apparent until the wing succumbed to the damage three laps later when he rode the kerb at the last chicane and it became trapped under the front of the car. Jenson pitted for a new nose but went on to experience a severe lack of grip and the car became increasingly undriveable. When he retired after 16 laps, the team were able to see that the bargeboards had been damaged when the wing went under the car.

The Honda Racing F1 Team now turns its attention to the next race on the calendar, the British Grand Prix. The team will test a new aerodynamic package on the RA108 at Silverstone next week, prior to heading to one of its two home races - just seven miles from its UK base in Brackley - on 5 July.

RESULTS

Drivers          Car No.   Chassis No. Race Result / Fastest Lap

Rubens Barrichello   17      RA108-04    P14      01:17.969

Jenson Button    16      RA108-02    DNF     

Weather        Overcast and breezy Temperatures    Air: 25°C       Track: 25-31°C     

RUBENS BARRICHELLO

Q. Sum up your French Grand Prix today. A. "It was in many ways a great race today, just with a difficult car. Atleast we were able to progress up the field and make a fight of it. As weexpected, the car was slightly better in race trim and with a good strategyand great pit stops, we were able to improve on my starting position andchallenge the people we were able to. Our engineers and mechanics did agreat job this weekend, so I would like to thank them for their hard workand motivation. However there is no escaping the fact that this has been apainful weekend for us. We have a lot of hard work ahead at the test inSilverstone next week where we aim to improve the competitiveness of the carfor the next few races with some new developments." 

JENSON BUTTON

Q. A brief and frustrating race for you. What went wrong?  A. "Going out of the race so early is a disappointing end to what has been atough weekend for us. I got a good start and was alongside Bourdais. Ithought he was going to turn in at turn one and close the door so I pulledin behind him and then unfortunately hit him in the rear as everythingslowed down for the corner. I could feel that there was something broken atthe front of the car as there was an air coming in from the front, but thecar was driveable and I was staying with the back of the pack so Icontinued. However the front wing must have been loose as a result of theimpact, as it dislodged itself when I went over the kerbs in the lastchicane and got stuck under the front of the car. We replaced the nose butthe bargeboards had been pulled off and the car had become undriveable so Ihad to retire. It's my home Grand Prix next and we have a busy programme atthe Silverstone test next week to prepare, so we will stay positive and keeplooking forward."  

ROSS BRAWN, Team Principal

Q. Talk us through the challenges you faced in today's race.  A. "Rubens got a good start and then did a solid job managing the tyres witha heavy fuel load for the first stint. Unfortunately though he was trappedbehind a slower car, which allowed the cars ahead to pull away. However,with a good strategy and consistent laps, Rubens was able to move throughthe field and, having started from the back of the grid, he went on to makeup five places. While this is by no means a good result, the team and carworked very well throughout the whole race. Jenson's first corner incidentwith Bourdais damaged the front wing, and as a consequence it became looseand broke off. Despite a nose change, some residual bodywork damage wascausing him to lose a great deal of downforce. Given that it was so early inthe race it was not sensible to leave a stricken car running so we decidedto retire him." Q. What steps will you now take to try to improve the car for the next fewraces? A. "Next week we are testing at Silverstone where we will be evaluating aconsiderable aero upgrade which we plan to introduce for the British GrandPrix in two weeks' time. There will be further developments to this over thecoming races then a suspension upgrade for the start of the final long haulraces."