FIA Formula One World Championship - Round 12 German GP, 23-25 July 2004 Race
Honda-powered Button Storms To Sensational Second In Germany
B.A.R Honda's Button and Sato cross the line second and eighth at Hockenheim
Lucky Strike B.A.R Honda's Jenson Button drove a brilliant race today to cross the line second in the German Grand Prix, having started from 13th on the grid, to score his seventh and the team's eighth podium finish this season. Honda-powered team-mate Takuma Sato battled hard to finish eighth and give B.A.R Honda a well-earned two-car points finish.
Following the standard formation lap and an aborted start due to the Toyota of Olivier Panis stalling on the grid, both Honda-powered drivers got away smoothly for the 67 lap German Grand Prix at Hockenheim. Despite locking up at turn two, Button moved up one spot to P12 and by lap four was up into 10th place, just over a second off team-mate Sato. As the front-runners pitted, the Briton moved into the lead on lap 12 and two laps later Button pitted under the safety car, which was deployed on lap 13 due to Kimi Raikkonen's rear wing flying off his McLaren causing the Finn to spin out of the race.
Having leap-frogged Mark Webber's Jaguar and B.A.R Honda team-mate Sato in the first round of pit stops, Button rejoined the action in fifth position behind Juan Pablo Montoya (Williams), and went on to snatch P4 from him on lap 21 when the Columbian ran wide. By lap 24, with a potential podium finish already in sight, Button had closed the gap to fellow countryman David Coulthard (McLaren) to less than a second and four laps later took the lead as those ahead of him pitted.
Lap 34 saw Button pit from the lead for his second of three scheduled stops and although he was able to clear Coulthard, Fernando Alonso (Renault) managed to sneak through as Button exited the pit lane, pushing the Honda-powered Briton back to P3. Button was all over the back of Alonso by lap 36 and enjoyed a fantastic battle with the Spaniard for P2, the pair getting side-by-side as Alonso ran wide at the hairpin.
As the next pit stop sequence unfolded, the B.A.R Honda driver took the lead for the third time on lap 47, coming in for his own third and final stop on lap 50. Button, who rejoined just behind Alonso, was clearly on a charge and on lap 52 had a go at the Renault driver, making it stick through turn six, pulling off a brilliant move for P2. Despite being held up by back-markers and driving one-handed on the straights due to a loose strap on his crash helmet making it difficult to breathe, the British star had pulled out a 6.3 second margin from Alonso by lap 55 and was just 10 seconds off race-leader Michael Schumacher (Ferrari).
Having started the race from 13th on the grid due to the 10 place penalty for Friday's engine change, Button drove a sensational race, crossing the line second to score eight championship points and notch up B.A.R Honda's eighth podium finish this season.
Sato fell back one place to ninth at the start, slotting in behind Antonio Pizzonia, who was standing in for the injured Ralf Schumacher at Williams. The Japanese driver pitted for his first of three scheduled stops on lap 10 and rejoined the action in P14 behind Pizzonia. Four laps later Sato was running in 11th position as the first round of stops was completed and the Honda-powered star put in some great laps during his second stint, charging past Pizzonia and Felipe Massa (Sauber) on lap 17 and 19 respectively.
Just as Sato started to reel in eighth placed Giancarlo Fisichella on lap 22, the Sauber driver pitted, moving Sato up into P8 with Webber his next victim. The B.A.R Honda driver out-breaked the Australian to take seventh place and was right on Renault's Jarno Trulli's tail in the battle for P6. On lap 26 Sato made it stick through turn two to take P6 from Trulli and started to pull away from Webber, who managed to follow him past the Renault.
One lap later Sato pitted from sixth on the same lap as Montoya, rejoining in 11th position and ending up seventh as the majority of the pack pit completed their stops. A 360 degree spin on lap 32 meant Webber was able to sneak through, but Sato remained in P7 as Christian Klien (Jaguar) pitted.
After his third and final stop on lap 49, Sato rejoined in seventh behind Webber and fell back to P8 on lap 58 when Pizzonia managed to overtake him as he struggled with the balance of his car. Sato, who started from eighth on the grid, battled hard throughout the race and ultimately crossed the line eighth, giving B.A.R Honda another solid two-car finish.
Clear blue skies and glorious sunshine were the order of the day at Hockenheim (27 degrees) as local hero Michael Schumacher won his home Grand Prix followed by B·A·R Honda's Jenson Button and Renault's Fernando Alonso. David Coulthard (McLaren), Juan Pablo Montoya (Williams) and Jaguar's Mark Webber finished fourth, fifth and sixth while Antonio Pizzonia (Williams) and B.A.R Honda's Takuma Sato took the final two point scoring positions.
Jenson Button Position: 2nd
"This was without doubt the best race of my F1 career. I'm just so thrilled to finish second when I thought the best I could hope for was maybe fifth, at best. The car felt fantastic, the engine was great and the teamwork from the boys was incredible. I made a good start but had a terrible first lap and didn't gain anything, but then the team did a fantastic job in the first pitstop. I had a great fight with Fernando, who had incredible traction out of turn three where I was losing out to him, then on the straight I could get close to him again. I tried a few times to get past him and nothing seemed to work but then I finally got him down the inside and held on to it. Towards the end of the race my helmet strap started to work loose and my helmet was lifting down the straights, which was pulling the strap tight against my throat and choking me. I had to drive one-handed most of the time! I'm really delighted for the team. We all really deserved this result before we take a well-earned break and I know we'll be back in Hungary giving everything we've got for the rest of the season."
Takuma Sato Position: 8th
"It was a good race in terms of achieving points for both cars, but I was extremely disappointed not to be able to score as many we wanted. It was a tough opening lap and unfortunately there was an incident at the hairpin that I had to avoid and so I lost a few places. During the race I also experienced two separate problems with the HANS device slipping out from under the shoulder strap, which meant a loss of support. It was a struggle to drive like that and I lost positions because of it. The second stint was exciting because I overtook quite a few cars and the car was working really well, but later in the race the balance was not as good and that was costing me lap time, which was disappointing. However, it is very encouraging to see the car return to pace and I am looking forward to Hungary."
Shuhei Nakamoto – Engineering Director, Honda Racing Development
"I am delighted with the performance of both the drivers and the team today but Jenson in particular drove a superb race. To have both cars in the points is a great boost for everyone as we go into the summer break."