Little home joy for Toyota and Honda 09 Oct 2005
Both Honda and Toyota will be asking where it all went wrong. Before the start of the Japanese Grand Prix both 'home' teams looked well-placed for success. The rain-soaked qualifying had helped Ralf Schumacher to take his first pole position for Toyota, while next to him in P2 sat Jenson Buttons Honda-powered BAR.
53 laps later and it hadn't quite gone to plan. Takuma Sato suffered from another action-filled race. He ran wide heading into the first corner and then collided with Rubens Barrichello (who had also run out of track) as he tried to rejoin. Sato pitted for a new nosecone, but was in the wars again shortly afterwards with a messy low-speed shunt with Jarno Trulli as the Japanese driver seemed to chase a non-existent gap on lap 9.
Trullis Toyota was comprehensively wrecked and the Italian driver was forced into retirement, calling for action to be taken against his rival, while Sato managed to carry on, finishing in a lowly 13th place. After his recent poor finishing record, it was the last thing the Japanese driver needs as he tries to impress potential employers for next season.
Ralf Schumachers race didnt go much better. His strong pace during the early stages of the race was quickly proved to be down to a very light fuel load - he was the first of the front-runners to stop, emerged in ninth place and only managed to regain a single position as those now ahead of him stopped for their first stops. His three-stop strategy, which wasn't helped by the long safety-car period, saw him finishing in eighth, taking just a single world championship point from what many reckoned would be his best race of the season.
By contrast, Jenson Button had a relatively good afternoon - but the BAR team will be disappointed that he was unable to find the pace to defend his second-place grid position. The English driver drove well, ran in second place after the first round of pitstops and briefly led the race when Fisichella made his second stop. Button emerged from his own second stop down in fifth - after quicker pit work by Williams put Mark Webber ahead - a position he held to the flag.
Buttons result at least helped BAR extend their margin over Red Bull Racing in sixth place of the constructors championship - with 37 points to 30.
Toyota's disappointing result, however, means their hopes of moving ahead of Ferrari for third in the standings are over. Fourth place looks secure though - they head to China with an 18 point lead over fifth-place Williams.