B.A.R Honda's Button Races To Sensational Second Place In Monaco
Jenson Button claims fourth podium finish of his career in fascinating race
Lucky Strike B.A.R Honda's Jenson Button raced to a sensational second place in this afternoon's Monaco Grand Prix, to claim the fourth podium finish of this season and his career. Takuma Sato made an awesome start but his race was over on lap three due to an engine failure.
The pack got away safely when the lights finally went out, the start having been delayed by 10 minutes due to Olivier Panis stalling the engine of his Toyota on the grid. B.A.R Honda's Takuma Sato was sensational, charging from seventh on the grid to fourth and tucking in behind team-mate Jenson Button. However, the Japanese driver's podium challenge was cruelly cut short when his engine failed on lap three.
Renault's Fernando Alonso snuck past B.A.R Honda's Jenson Button at the start, pushing the Briton back to P3. Thick smoke from Sato's engine failure caused Sauber's Giancarlo Fisichella to collide with David Coulthard's McLaren, bringing out the safety car.
The race action restarted on lap eight and Button ran in third position until his first pit stop on lap 18, rejoining in fifth place behind Cristiano Da Matta, who was still to pit. When the Toyota driver pitted on lap 23 Button was on a charge to catch Ferrari's Michael Schumacher, who was leading the race with a pit stop in hand.
The Renault duo of Trulli and Alonso were back in front after the first round of pit stops was completed on lap 25 with Schumacher third and Button fourth, seven seconds behind the German. By lap 36, with just 12 cars remaining in the race, the B.A.R Honda ace was the fastest man on track, having closed the gap to Schumacher to under three seconds.
Eight laps later the safety car was back on track as Alonso hit the barrier in the tunnel and crashed out of the race. Button took the opportunity to pit for the second and last time, as did race leader Trulli, reshuffling the order at the front of the pack behind the pace car to Schumacher, Trulli, Button.
Adding yet more excitement to the already dramatic race, lap 46 saw championship leader Michael Schumacher out of the race after he made contact with Montoya in the tunnel, while still running under the safety car. Now in second place and on course for the fourth podium of his career, Button suffered hugely from backmarkers as there was no sign of the blue flags needed to let him past. The traffic increased the gap between himself and race leader Trulli to almost seven seconds with 26 laps remaining.
With the backmarkers out of the way by lap 62, Honda-powered Button got back into the groove and enjoyed outstanding pace to reel in Trulli to within 2.2 seconds with just nine laps to go. The fans lining the streets of the principality were treated to a breath-taking climax as the Italian was held up by traffic and the young Briton closed the gap to just over a second by lap 72. Button continued to battle hard but as it is virtually impossible to overtake around the streets of Monte Carlo, he crossed the line in second place, having dissolved the gap to race winner Trulli to just 0.4 seconds.
Renault's Jarno Trulli won the 78 lap Monaco Grand Prix and was joined on the podium by B.A.R Honda's Jenson Button and Ferrari's Rubens Barrichello. Juan Pablo Montoya (Williams), Sauber's Felipe Massa, and Toyota's Cristiano Da Matta finished fourth, fifth and sixth while Nick Heidfeld (Jordan) and Olivier Panis (Toyota) complete the top eight.
Jenson Button Position: 2nd
"It was a very tough but incredibly exciting race for me - and I suspect everyone watching at home too! It felt great crossing the line in second place, but ever so slightly frustrating because I was only a second behind the winner! I didn't get a good start and Alonso was able to get by me, then the traffic was very bad because of the backmarkers and I was getting really frustrated, being stuck behind da Matta for three and a half laps. After I broke free of them I could really start catching Jarno. We had a great strategy today but we just couldn't quite catch him."
Takuma Sato Position: DNF
"I am obviously extremely disappointed today after making such a great start off the grid, but on the positive side it was encouraging to see our race pace was so strong. I think we made a great tyre choice for this race and we had a very good strategy - it's just a shame I wasn't able to use it! I immediately felt a loss of engine power and saw some smoke, then my race was over. It was very unfortunate that the smoke caused the crash between Coulthard and Fisichella, and although there was nothing I could have done about it, I am really pleased that no one was hurt. We have been working very hard in testing at Barcelona and Paul Ricard for this race and the Nurburgring, and at least I don't have long to wait to try to make up for today."
Shuhei Nakamoto - Engineering Director, Honda Racing Development
"One way or another we contributed to lots of the drama today! First of all Jenson had another fantastic race and I loved watching him catch Jarno - fighting for a win feels good. I have to say that I am very sorry for Taku - he got a fantastic start and we should have done better for him."
||C Da Matta