Sunday, October 08, 2006

Japanese GP Race

Copyright Renault F1

The Spaniard drove a great race – and re-took the championship lead.

Fernando, the team was pretty pessimistic before the start… and you have won! What happened?
FA: It was a completely crazy race! I got the best possible start, and my aim was to not lose too much to the Ferraris. So I took some risks to get past Trulli in the second corner, and it worked. I had expected Ferrari to be much faster than us, but I soon realised I could match their pace and a podium was possible. I pushed hard, got past Ralf on the track, then Massa at the stops. I was just over 5 seconds behind Michael when his engine failed. That’s when I took the lead and controlled the race.

What did you think about when Michael retired?
FA: At first, I thought somebody had gone off. I braked , then I saw oil and made sure I didn’t go off on it. When I came alongside, I realised it was Michael. I felt relieved, but there were still twenty laps to go. We decided to be cautious and turn the engine down.

The Michelin tyres were working well today. Did you expect that?
FA: It was a surprise, but not such a big one. We expected to be closer to them because yesterday, Michael was two seconds faster in Q2 and that wasn’t normal. So we thought things would be closer in the race. My tyres were the same on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. I think the other tyres got worse…

Copyright Renault F1

Copyright Honda Racing F1

Jenson Button ended the Japanese Grand Prix in a strong fourth position today, securing five points in the Honda Racing F1 Team’s home race in front of a sell-out crowd at Suzuka.

By contrast, team-mate Rubens Barrichello’s race got off to a frustrating start after he damaged his front wing in the opening lap melee. He was forced to pit for a new nose and the unscheduled stop left him fighting his way through the backmarkers for the early part of the race. During the next two stints Rubens was able to show his pace and he went on to take the chequered flag in 12th place.

This result continues the team’s run of consecutive points finishes with Jenson scoring his sixth in succession. Only Michael Schumacher has scored more points than Jenson since Hockenheim.

Steven Tee/LAT Photographic

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