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BAR keep their promise at Imola 24 Apr 2005

Jenson Button (GBR) BAR Honda 007.
Formula One World Championship, Rd4, San Marino Grand Prix, Race Day, Imola, Italy, 24 April 2005

Both cars home in the points, one on the podium

Even Jenson Button’s spirited defence of his second-place could not keep Michael Schumacher at bay, but both he and BAR will be happy with the team’s strong performance at the San Marino Grand Prix, a welcome return to form for the Honda-powered squad.

Button benefited from Schumacher’s mistake during the second qualifying session, clinching third place on the grid. A strong start saw him keep that position until Lap 9, when Kimi Raikkonen’s retirement promoted him into second place, and he quickly built up a strong lead over third-placed Jarno Trulli.

As his second pit-stop approached Button found himself coming under pressure from the flying Michael Schumacher, and although he managed to hold the world champion at bay for several laps he eventually lost second place as Schumacher blind-sided him as they approached some backmarkers.

In truth, the Ferrari’s pace was so much quicker that Schumacher would have been almost certain to grab the position anyway during his pit stop. Button eventually took the chequered flag 10 seconds behind Alonso and Schumacher, but with a very comfortable 17 second margin over fourth-placed Alexander Wurz in the McLaren, something that’s likely to cause elation in Brackley, given that until today they had not even got a car to the finish in 2005.

Takuma Sato also drove a strong race in the second BAR, demonstrating the increasing maturity that - in combination with his undoubted pace - looks set to make him a serious force in Formula One racing. Having qualified in sixth place he ran well during the opening stage of the race, inheriting fifth when Kimi Raikkonen retired and then holding onto the position during two pit stops to earn himself and his team four points.

Together with Button’s six for third the weekend’s haul of ten points has propelled BAR from nowhere into seventh place in the constrcutors’ championship, just two points behind Red Bull Racing.