|Olivier qualified his B.A.R Honda in 12th position for sunday's grid of the European Grand Prix to start the race as the leading Honda-powered driver. Takuma Sato will start in 14th position while his team-mate Giancarlo and B.A.R Honda's Jacques Villeneuve will line up in 18th and 19th positions respectively.
Panis on Saturday
Jacques Villeneuve was the first of the four Honda-powered drivers out on track for saturday's qualifying hour at the Nürburgring, just over 20 minutes into the session, followed five minutes later by team-mate Olivier Panis and in quick succession the Jordan Honda pairing of Giancarlo Fisichella and Takuma Sato.
Jacques on Saturday
Olivier Panis finished the day as the fastest Honda powered driver by setting a best time of 1m31.906s on his fourth and final run, which was almost a second and a half faster than his first attack, finally placing him in 12th position. Takuma Sato finished in 14th position with a best time of 1m31.999s resulting in the Japanese rookie out qualifying his team-mate for only the second time this season. Sato set his fastest time on his third of four outings and improved on his initial timed lap by just under a second.
Giancarlo Fisichella and B.A.R Honda's Jacques Villeneuve both set their best times on their second outing, coincidentally both drivers were unable to set a faster time in their final two runs, ending a torrid day for the two Bridgestone shod drivers. Fisichella's best lap of 1m32.591s was an improvement of five tenths of a second on his initial time, placing the Italian 18th on the grid. Villeneuve recorded a fastest lap of 1m32.968s, which was just under a second quicker than his first run, and will start tomorrow's race from 19th position.
Taku on Saturday
Shuhei Nakamoto, Race and Test Team Manager, Honda Racing Development
"After Canada where two of our drivers qualified sixth and ninth we were hoping to carry our improved performance forward and achieve good grid positions here, so today is really disappointing. Of course we're going to try everything to take advantage of any opportunities we can to continue our points scoring run."
"After the practice session this morning, I knew that qualifying was going to be very difficult because our car wasn't that competitive. It was quite well balanced but difficult to drive. In situations like this, the only solution is to stay focused, roll up your sleeves and work hard in the debriefs to try to come up with a solution. I'm quite happy with 12th position because that final run was extremely tough but I managed to control every metre of the lap and get the time. I appreciate all the hard work put in by my engineers and the rest of the team because, together, we have been able to raise our technical performance significantly over the last two days. They rose to the challenge, which was the only way back from this morning. Now, we have to continue to keep pushing for the race."
"It was a tough qualifying session for both of us. Somehow we couldn't really get the pace at this circuit, which is disappointing as everyone's working really hard. I can push very hard in qualifying now and understand the way the session is going. I think I got all the performance I could out of the car today and although 14th place is a bit lower than expected, it was all we could do. I worked hard and am pleased to have brought a reasonable result to the mechanics and engineers."
"I'm confused. I don't know why but it's been a tough session for us. There is something wrong because 18th is, of course, not the position we expect. We will look at the data and everything and hope for a better day tomorrow."
"Obviously I'm very disappointed to qualify 19th. I haven't been able to get the car to work all weekend and we just couldn't find a qualifying set-up today. We were slow all around the track but mainly in the first sector where I just couldn't get the car to work well. I drove as hard as I could but, to be honest, the car has been pretty undriveable and I don't understand it because Olivier seems able to get a lap time out of his. I have a new chassis for this race so we're not sure if that is a factor. Sometimes new chassis don't work properly, as we saw last year on a couple of occasions. I guess we'll find out tomorrow when we use the T-car so we can at least take that out of the equation. Tonight, we'll have to pull some hair and see what we can work out for the race. It's going to be very hard to achieve much from that position but we have to hope for reliability and take any opportunities that are presented to us."
"It's been a tough weekend achieving a good set-up for both cars. The improvement we were expecting from both the chassis and engine just didn't materialise and Olivier's lap was the very best we could have achieved under the circumstances. We've clearly got a lot of work to do overnight to see if we can improve on the situation for tomorrow's race."