The Honda Racing F1 Team qualified its RA108s in 14th and 18th positions for the Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai this afternoon.
Rubens Barrichello was the quicker of the team's two drivers, progressing into Q2 for the first time since the Canadian Grand Prix in June. Jenson Button, meanwhile, just missed the cut for Q2 and will start tomorrow's race from the penultimate row of the grid.
Both Honda drivers took to the track early in Q1 to discover how the rising track temperature had affected the balance of their cars. They were both on the harder, used prime tyre from the morning practice session and Rubens posted a time of 1:37.550s, while Jenson was 0.4s behind his team-mate.
They both pitted to make subtle changes to their car set-up, before returning to the race track with 10 minutes of Q1 remaining, again on the prime tyre. Both drivers lapped significantly faster: Rubens set a time of 1:36.693s and Jenson 1:37.053s.
They pitted after just one flying lap, before taking to the track for a final time with just three minutes of Q1remaining. Again Rubens improved, albeit by 0.053s, to set the 15th fastest lap and progress into Q2. Jenson didn't have a balance on this decisive run and was knocked out of the session.
In Q2 Rubens completed two flying laps, the first of which was his best of the weekend so far. His time of 1:36.079s was only 0.2s slower than Robert Kubica's BMW and gave him a place on the seventh row of the grid.
Q. Your best qualifying performance for sometime. You must be very pleased?
A. "It was a really nice lap to progress into Q2 today as I had a slowout-lap because everyone was backed up and I was worried about the lack ofgrip, so it was a really good effort. I then had probably my best lap around this circuit to make a 1.36.079 by getting everything possible out of the car. I don't think we would have been able to produce anything more than that. I'm pleased with our performance today, particularly after the difficulties that we had in practice yesterday, so we can be very satisfied with our grid position for the race tomorrow."
Q. After showing promising pace in practice, this proved to be a disappointing qualifying session for you?
A. "I was reasonably happy with the balance after practice this morning, but unfortunately the car went away from us in qualifying. We just weren't able to find a good balance this afternoon with a real lack of front grip on the prime tyres and difficulty with traction out of the corners. We need to lookin to why this happened and why we were unable to get the best out of the car. It will be a tough race from here tomorrow."
Head of Race & Test Engineering
Q. Mixed results in qualifying today. Talk us through it?
A. "As we suggested yesterday, our performance wasn't as bad as it might have appeared on Friday's timesheets. We saw this morning that the option tyre was going to be difficult to get to work, so we took the prime for Q1.This worked well for Rubens, who got the most out of the car, but Jenson didn't have a balance on his last run. With the track warming up in Q2 we saw that the option tyre, which Rubens was running, was a few tenths quicker, so a different tyre choice might have got Jenson through to Q2. In Rubens' second run in Q2, the balance wasn't perfect and he lost a few tenths. Even with a better lap it was unlikely we would have made it into Q3."