Button beats Villeneuve to the line

Britain's Jenson Button carried the standard for BAR on Friday, despite suffering elusive car balance problems. A lap time 1.6s off the pace was enough for him to take ninth place, while team-mate Jacques Villeneuve struggled back in 15th.

Button beats Villeneuve to the line

"The balance has changed quite a lot since this morning when I was struggling with too much understeer," said Button. "I had a lot more oversteer this afternoon. We did some set-up changes to help the oversteer but it just seems to have got worse again. Maybe it's the circuit but it was quite snappy everywhere under braking. Considering the way the car was I don't think the lap was too bad really."

Villeneuve was at his entertaining best, thrilling the crowds with his over-the-limit antics. But a good start to his lap was ruined when he made a couple of late unforced errors.

"The differential wasn't working properly this morning so we weren't really sure what the car balance was at the end of practice," he said. "We changed the car set-up and brakes for qually so it was a little bit of an unknown. The car itself was quite quick, not as competitive as Melbourne though. I was trying hard and made a mistake in the last two corners and paid the price by having a slow lap."

There was no sign of Honda's recent highly publicised engine problems reoccurring. Shuhei Nakamoto, engineering director at Honda Racing Development was on hand to oversee progress with the 2003 spec powerplant now in use at BAR.

"Our engines were in good shape throughout both sessions so I'm looking forward to seeing what we can do tomorrow - when it really counts," he said.

As the new regulations dictate, the BAR pairing will be 12th and sixth out of the blocks in qualifying proper tomorrow.

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