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GP Week : Issue 5
Friday had not started brightly as the Honda duo sat 18th and 19th having sat out half of the session due to the track’s green and dirty nature. The afternoon went far better however with Barrichello climbing to 16th and Button peeking at the lower edge of the top 10 in 11th. Qualifying on Saturday was a shot of adrenalin in the arm of the team. Barrichello was unlucky to miss out on Q3 in 12th, while Button took his RA108 to an excellent ninth. The Brazilian ran behind Fisichella in the opening stint, the pair scrapping vigorously until the Honda boys got Rubens ahead in his pitstop. He then set about catching Alonso and finished less than a second off the Renault, in 11th. Button had a far more frustrating afternoon and, after a top ten start, sustained a puncture on the opening lap. Emerging from the pits in 20th, he battled Coulthard until he landed on the Scot’s car despite a good effort to avoid a collision. The damage saw him retire. Friday was something of a coup for Sebastien Bourdais as for the first time in his F1 career he outpaced his younger team-mate Sebastien Vettel in both sessions. Bourdais seemed somewhat surprised that he had found so much pace on a track not to the car’s liking, while Vettel summised that the car “lacked grip and we’re too slow.” Touché. Qualifying followed a similar plot with Vettel unable to make it out of Q1, settling for 19th at its close. Bourdais meanwhile made it into Q2 for the first time and lined up 15th. Vettel’s race was over fairly swiftly. Having made a great start he collided with a Force India car before being punted from behind, causing the damage to his rear right that saw him out of the race as the first retirement. Bourdais at least managed to see the chequered flag, and came home in the position in which he had qualified. The Frenchman admitted it had been a pretty dull race from inside the cockpit, but a useful experience nonetheless. Toyota’s unexpectedly good pace showed itself once again on Friday morning as Trulli took his car eighth with Glock in 11th. Oddly however the afternoon session saw neither Toyota in the top 10 for the first time in 2008. As one of the teams who had tested in Bahrain in February there was perhaps no need to fear and the team declared itself happy. On Saturday Trulli was fourth fastest in final practice, and again made it through to Q3, lining up seventh. Glock meanwhile was slightly less fortunate and struggled on his final set of tyres in Q2 to wind up 13th. Glock had an enjoyable race, in a car which he admitted was far more to his liking than that which he had encountered in the first two races. He finished just shy of the points in 9th. Trulli meanwhile had another great race, and had yet another top six finish. The team is bounding towards consistent and threatening pace and can, for now at least, claim to be best of the rest after Ferrari, McLaren and BMW. PANASONIC TOYOTA RACING 11 12 SCUDERIA TORO ROSSO 14 15 HONDA RACING F1 TEAM 16 17 34