Button 'ecstatic' about fifth place

Jenson Button ended qualifying for the Japanese Grand Prix as the 'best of the rest' behind the dominant Ferrari-McLaren battle, the young Englishman placing his Williams-BMW fifth on the grid despite having never raced at Suzuka before

Button 'ecstatic' about fifth place

Button, who will be replaced at Williams by CART star Juan Montoya next season, outqualified his more experienced team-mate Ralf Schumacher for the sixth time in his rookie year, beating the German by 0.16s.

"I'm ecstatic!" Button enthused. "It's good to come to somewhere like Suzuka and qualify fifth on my first time at the track. I really have to thank the mechanics and the team because they did a great job on the car."

The 20-year-old had struggled to learn the circuit during the first practice sessions, but made such rapid progress that by the Saturday morning sessions only Mika Hakkinen and Michael Schumacher were ahead of him. Although unable to match that showing in qualifying, he still came close to snatching fourth from Ferrari's Rubens Barrichello.

However, on several occasions this season Button has qualified strongly only for his inexperience to tell in the races. He is keen to avoid a repeat of that scenario in Japan.

"I can't celebrate yet," he insisted. "I haven't finished the last two races so I have to make sure I do here. Yesterday it looked like it was going to be difficult, I was about 1.5s off Ralf in practice but today it all came together and I'm happy."

Williams should secure third place in the constructors' championship this weekend. The team is 14 points ahead of fourth-placed Benetton, but whereas Button and Schumacher will start from row three tomorrow, the Benettons of Alex Wurz and Giancarlo Fisichella are down on row six after qualifying. Ironically, Button will be driving for Benetton in 2001 when Montoya comes in to partner Schumacher.

Click here for full qualifying results from Suzuka.

shares
comments
Schumacher takes dramatic pole
Previous article

Schumacher takes dramatic pole

Next article

Jordan drivers unhappy in Japan

Jordan drivers unhappy in Japan
Why few could blame Leclerc for following the example of Hamilton’s exit bombshell Plus

Why few could blame Leclerc for following the example of Hamilton’s exit bombshell

OPINION: Ferrari's numerous strategy blunders, as well as some of his own mistakes, have cost Charles Leclerc dearly in the 2022 Formula 1 title battle in the first half of the season. Though he is locked into a deal with Ferrari, few could blame Leclerc if he ultimately wanted to look elsewhere - just as Lewis Hamilton did with McLaren 10 years prior

The other McLaren exile hoping to follow Perez's path to a top F1 seat Plus

The other McLaren exile hoping to follow Perez's path to a top F1 seat

After being ditched by McLaren earlier in his F1 career Sergio Perez fought his way back into a seat with a leading team. BEN EDWARDS thinks the same could be happening to another member of the current grid

Formula 1
Aug 8, 2022
How studying Schumacher helped make Coulthard a McLaren F1 mainstay Plus

How studying Schumacher helped make Coulthard a McLaren F1 mainstay

Winner of 13 grands prix including Monaco and survivor of a life-changing plane crash, David Coulthard could be forgiven for having eased into a quiet retirement – but, as MARK GALLAGHER explains, in fact he’s busier than ever, running an award-winning media company and championing diversity in motor racing. Not bad for someone who, by his own admission, wasn’t quite the fastest driver of his generation…

Formula 1
Aug 7, 2022
Could F1 move to a future beyond carbonfibre? Plus

Could F1 move to a future beyond carbonfibre?

Formula 1 has ambitious goals for improving its carbon footprint, but could this include banishing its favoured composite material? PAT SYMONDS considers the alternatives to carbonfibre and what use, if any, those materials have in a Formula 1 setting

Formula 1
Aug 6, 2022
How Russell has proven he deserves to be Hamilton's Mercedes heir Plus

How Russell has proven he deserves to be Hamilton's Mercedes heir

He’s fast, he’s smart, and he’s already shown he’s not going to let Max Verstappen intimidate him. George Russell won’t say it, but LUKE SMITH says he’s ready to take the lead at Mercedes when Lewis Hamilton moves on to a quieter life. And – whisper it – Mercedes and Lewis are starting to think so too

Formula 1
Aug 5, 2022
The traits that fuelled Alonso's unexpected Aston Martin move Plus

The traits that fuelled Alonso's unexpected Aston Martin move

Fernando Alonso’s bombshell switch to Aston Martin sent shockwaves through Formula 1, not least at Alpine that finds itself tangled in a contract standoff with Oscar Piastri. Not shy of a bold career move and with a CV punctuated by them, there were numerous hints that trouble was brewing

Formula 1
Aug 4, 2022
The elements Ferrari must resolve to first save face, then win championships Plus

The elements Ferrari must resolve to first save face, then win championships

OPINION: Ferrari's Formula 1 title hopes look all but over after another strategic blunder in last week's Hungarian Grand Prix denied Charles Leclerc the chance to fight for victory, while handing it to chief rival Max Verstappen. The Scuderia now faces intense scrutiny over what it must now do to finally become a genuine factor in championship battles

Formula 1
Aug 3, 2022
The clues about Hamilton’s F1 retirement plans revealed after Vettel’s decision Plus

The clues about Hamilton’s F1 retirement plans revealed after Vettel’s decision

OPINION: Sebastian Vettel is set to leave Formula 1 at the end of 2022 and will, rather shockingly, be replaced by Fernando Alonso at Aston Martin. But what about the final chapter of the other driver that defined the post-Michael Schumacher era? In Hungary, Lewis Hamilton spoke about his future in the context of Vettel’s upcoming departure, which offered clues on how long it will last

Formula 1
Aug 2, 2022