Two Honda-powered Podiums In A Row
April 4, 2004 FIA Formula One World Championship - Round 3 Bahrain GP, 2-4 April 2004 Race
Lucky Strike B.A.R Honda's Jenson Button drove another stunning race to score his second podium in a row, bringing his B.A.R Honda 006 home in third place at the inaugural Bahrain Grand Prix. Takuma Sato also drove an impressive race, crossing the line in fifth position, bringing the total number of championship points scored by B.A.R Honda this weekend to 10. Gusty winds hit the Bahrain International Circuit this morning and as the lights went out to signal the start of the maiden event in the Middle East rain clouds threatened. Track and air temperatures were much cooler than yesterday, at 29 and 30 degrees respectively. At the start of the race Button fell back one place to seventh behind the Renault of Jarno Trulli, but by lap six had moved up into sixth place due to Ralf Schumacher (Williams) spinning off. The Briton pitted on lap 12 from the lead as others had pitted before him and following a slightly lengthy 12 second stop, as a result of a sticking wheel nut on his left rear tyre, he rejoined in eighth position behind Sato. Two laps later Button was running in sixth due to the second round of pit stops and lap 17 he overtook his team-mate for fifth position as Sato ran wide. Button was up into third by lap 26 when he came in for his second scheduled stop (10.1 seconds), rejoining in seventh place. Again the stop was longer than scheduled as the damaged wheel nut was replaced. The B.A.R Honda driver was hot on the tail of Juan Pablo Montoya (Williams) and both men came in for their third and final stop on lap 40, Button running in fourth place. His 8.9 second stop meant the Briton was able to leapfrog Trulli, who pitted one lap later. Button rejoined the action in fourth position and a thrilling battle for third ensued with Montoya, culminating in the Honda-powered racer diving past the Columbian on lap 49. With eight laps to go Button set his sights on the second podium finish of his career and went to achieve just that, crossing the line in third place and scoring six championship points for himself and the team. Takuma Sato made a great start from fifth on the grid, snatching fourth position from Ralf Schumacher by turn one. As the German battled to get past Sato on lap six, the two cars touched, forcing Schumacher off the track. Sato managed to continue but fell back to fifth place. The Japanese driver came in for his first of three stops (8 seconds) on lap 11 from third place as others had pitted before him, rejoining in seventh. By lap 14 Sato was running in fifth position due to the second pit stop sequence but three laps later ran wide, sustaining damage to his car. The Honda-powered driver pitted on the following lap for fuel, tyres and a new nosecone, and rejoined in 14th place. Sato had made his way up into seventh by lap 28 and, despite damage to his rear wing, the Japanese driver pulled off a brilliant manoeuvre past David Coulthard's McLaren for sixth place on lap 33. Sato came in for the last of his three pit stops on lap 38, rejoining in eighth place, and moving up to sixth when Renault's Fernando Alonso and Ralf Schumacher pitted on lap 40 and 45. With just three laps to go Honda-powered Sato overtook Montoya for fifth place, the Williams driver clearly slowing with a problem. Sato pushed hard to fight off Alonso in the closing laps and brought his B.A.R Honda 006 home in fifth position, to score his first championship points of the 2004 season. Michael Schumacher won the 57 lap Bahrain Grand Prix with Ferrari team-mate Rubens Barrichello and B.A.R Hondas Jenson Button joining him on the podium to taste the Warrad, a non-alcoholic fruit drink specially formulated for the event. Jarno Trulli (Renault) and B.A.R Honda's Takuma Sato finished fourth and fifth while Fernando Alonso (Renault), Ralf Schumacher (Williams) and Jaguar's Mark Webber complete the point scoring positions. Shuhei Nakamoto Engineering Director, Honda Racing Development "It's a great feeling to score two podiums in a row. Jenson drove a superb race and Taku did well to finish fifth. I'm particularly pleased that both cars finished in strong positions today. The benefits of the hard work we've been doing are starting to be seen, however it's crucial that we keep the momentum going to close the gap between ourselves and the top team." Jenson Button Position: 3rd "Its fantastic to be on the podium again so soon after Malaysia. It was a great first race here and a brilliant result for the team. I didnt get a very good start and I was stuck behind Ralf in turn one, so I dropped back to eighth. In the first stint I was suffering quite badly from understeer so I was losing a lot of time in the high-speed corners. At the first stop we made a front wing adjustment and after that the car ran really well. The team has done another fantastic job here this weekend and my thanks to them and Honda for helping to make this result possible again. Its great to be lying equal third in the Constructors Championship and third in the Drivers Championship at this stage in the season. Were still only three races into our relationship with Michelin so were still learning a lot about the package but its really starting to come together now. Well be focusing very much on what we now need to do to take that next step forward." Takuma Sato Position: 5th "First of all I would like to say thank you to the team and the fantastic result we achieved together today. From a personal point of view I was quite disappointed with my race because I was on the pace and could have achieved a stronger position than fifth today. On the other hand, Im happy to deliver a points-finish for the team because every point counts in the end. I also really enjoyed racing here, so Im taking away a lot of good things from this weekend. The tangle with Ralf Schumacher was disappointing because we should have got through turn two side by side but he just closed the door on me and turned in. After that, I ran wide, damaging the front wing on the kerb and I was forced to do an earlier pitstop. In my middle stint, the gurney came loose and we had to adjust it in my next pitstop, so I lost a bit of time there. Generally though, the car was working superbly and I was able to race alongside Coulthard and Alonso towards the end which was great. Things are looking very encouraging for the rest of the season and I cant wait for Imola in three weeks time."