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GP Week : Issue 10
Friday began well for Honda as the team punched above its weight in the morning. Button was fifth and Barrichello eighth, although on the basis of the season to date neither were getting carried away. The afternoon showed why as Button wound up 11th and Barrichello 15th complaining that a mechanical change over lunch had disrupted the car’s overall balance. And so to qualifying and the team had high hopes of making it into Q3. They didn’t, however, and eventually had to settle for 12th and 13th – reasonable grid slots for the duo, with Barrichello just edging Button. The race itself bore more frustration for the team. With both drivers on a single pitstop, Barrichello wound up 14th, while Button, despite struggling for pace on the softer tyres in the second half of the race, battled hard to finish 11th. It was a disappointing race particularly for Barrichello, as he celebrated his record-breaking 257th grand prix without really making much on-track noise. Following the breakthough first point in Spain, Turkey was a reality check for the still off-colour Honda. It was a busy weekend for McLaren. While Hamilton was prancing around pretending to be Greek God Apollo in a much derided publicity stunt gone mad on Friday, Kovalainen was being passed fit to race by the FIA following his biggie in Spain. Practice saw the Finn second and fifth, with Hamilton third and second, and everyone feeling rather confident. Little did we know it at the time, but Mclaren was actually facing some issues with Hamilton’s tyres, which would subsequently have a big impact on his race. Come qualifying, and it was Kovalainen who finished in the ascendency, narrowly off pole and on the front row for the first time. What a comeback! Hamilton was third after struggling with the option tyre. Then the race … the details of why and how it panned out can be found in the pages of this very magazine, but the crux was thus. Hamilton took second after the race of his life, while Kovalainen drove like hell but missed out on what the team thought was a win in the making after picking up a puncture. Lots to smile about. Whoops. Friday began in the worst possible way for Force India as Fisichella’s desire to get out on track saw him leave the pit lane before it was open and the Italian was slapped with a three place grid penalty before the weekend had even properly begun. Still, 15th and 14th in the sessions meant that, even with the penalty, he might not be at the very back. Sutil ran to 14th in the morning but a clutch problem in the afternoon left him 20th. Qualifying was a return to earth as the drivers took 19th and 20th positions, with Fisi sent to the back with his penalty. So eager was he to make up places though, that at Turn 1 he locked his brakes and launched himself over Nakajima’s Williams. The Italian’s race was done. Sutil, for once, avoided the first lap chaos and settled into a nice rhythm which saw him bring his car home 16th, one lap down. The team, and Fisi in particular, will look forward to Monaco. It’ll be the Italian’s 200th race, and at his favourite track to boot. HONDA RACING F1 TEAM 16 17 FORCE INDIA F1 TEAM 20 21 VODAFONE McLAREN MERCEDES 22 23 F1 TURKEY >> 39