The 2008 Formula One World Championship reached its conclusion yesterdayafternoon in Brazil, where the Honda Racing F1 Team's RA108s came home in13th and 15th positions. Rubens Barrichello and Jenson Button both improvedon their 15th and 17th grid positions to give the team its 10th two-carfinish of the year.
A thrilling season-finale had everyone guessing before it had even begun,when a rain shower on the grid forced the start to be delayed while the carsswitched to wet weather tyres. Both Honda drivers then made good get-awaysand managed to steer clear of trouble at the first corner, where DavidCoulthard ended his final Grand Prix in the barrier and brought out theSafety Car.
The race restarted at the beginning of lap five with Rubens in 11th placeand Jenson in 14th. Rubens lost a position to Nick Heidfeld on lap six andon the following lap Jenson became one of the first drivers to pit for drytyres. Rubens switched to dries on lap nine and the Honda drivers circulatedin the midfield for the middle segment of the race.
On lap 33 Jenson made his second pitstop, from which he rejoined in 15thplace. Rubens made his second stop on lap 40, emerging just ahead of Jenson.They changed positions at Turn 1 on lap 43 and circulated in formation untilJenson made his third pitstop on lap 56.
Rubens pitted for what should have been the final time on lap 64, just asrain was starting to fall again and Jenson followed a lap later, both carsswitching to extreme wets. Just four laps from the end, Rubens was forced topit again after his tyres completely overheated because they did not suitthe conditions, making this a busy day for the pit crew who performed eightfaultless pitstops.
Q. Talk us through your race today and the calls that you made on strategy?
A. "I had a good start to the race, making up three positions out of thefirst couple of corners, however from there we suffered from being held upin traffic. We made an unusual call on my strategy, pitting early andswitching to what would have been a three-stop programme to avoid thetraffic situation. When I did have clean air, the car's performance wasactually not bad, however unfortunately the strategy didn't really work outfor us. We then needed to stop again for wet tyres at the end of the raceanyway and fitting the extreme wets didn't pay off for us. This weekendbrings a difficult and frustrating season to a close for our team but I amproud of the way in which we have persevered and maintained our motivationright to the last race."
Q. Your home Grand Prix produced an exciting outcome today. How was yourrace? A. "It was a crazy race with the weather playing a big role in the resulttoday. It was actually quite a competitive race for us in the context of thecar's performance and I was running just outside the top ten before thefinal pit stop. When the rain came right at the end of the race, we took agamble by fitting the extreme wets, thinking that it might pay off if therain was particularly heavy. That didn't work out for us and I dropped a fewplaces when I was forced to stop again just three laps later because thetyres completely overheated. We've always done our utmost to extract themaximum performance from the car this year and it is a credit to us thatthis resulted in a podium finish at Silverstone. Thank you to everyone atthe team for keeping their heads up during a difficult year."
ROSS BRAWN, Team Principal
Q. Sum up your final race of the season today? A. The sudden shower just prior to the start of the race set the tone forwhat was always going to be a very exciting race here today. We fitted thestandard wet tyres, which was the correct choice by the time we began therace following the delayed start. When the conditions improved, we wereamongst the earlier cars to stop for dry tyres and both drivers gainedpositions because of that. In the ensuing laps, the cars were runningtogether and being held up in traffic so we decided to pit Jenson early andsplit the remainder of the race, leaving Rubens running to plan. In the end,as the race continued to unfold, this strategy favoured Rubens. With theadvancing rain at the end of the race we pitted both cars and fitted theextreme wet tyres. This was a large roll of the dice in anticipation of apotentially torrential downpour which, had it paid off, could have moved usmuch further up the field. Unfortunately the level of rain did not exceedthe limits of the standard wet tyre that everyone else had opted for,however from where we were in the field it was a risk we could afford totake. Today we close the book on a difficult season for our team and lookforward to concentrating all our efforts on 2009. Finally, I would like tocongratulate Lewis Hamilton on winning the Drivers' Championship and Ferrarion securing the Constructors' title. It has been a very exciting season forthe sport and today's race was a fitting finale to a fantastic championshipfought with a great spirit."