Honda expected tough home race

Honda team principal Ross Brawn reiterated his belief that his struggling squad will be rewarded for their patience next year, after Rubens Barrichello and Jenson Button finished in the middle on the team's home ground

Honda expected tough home race

Barrichello and Button could only manage 13th and 14th in Japan today, having lacked the pace to fight for points despite both gaining several positions during the first lap incidents - but Brawn was not surprised by the result.

"Given that our car is not well-suited to this track, and our current package, this was always going to be a difficult race for us, especially from our grid positions," said Brawn.

"We took a gamble starting Jenson on the option tyre, looking for a good start and end of first stint performance. Jenson did indeed get a good start off the line, making up seven places, but then the tyres quickly grained and he lost all of that advantage. This was the risk associated with this strategy.

"Rubens also had a good start but appeared to be experiencing problems with the car balance after he was struck from behind by the Force India car of (Giancarlo) Fisichella.

"As our focus has already switched to 2009 I'm afraid we anticipated a tough time until the end of the season, but we will reap the benefit of this decision later next year."

Barrichello felt that his 13th place was the maximum possible with Honda's current package.

"I had a great start to the race today, passing three or four cars on the way down to the first corner and was able to hold the position well," he said.

"Unfortunately I was then hit from behind by Fisichella which damaged the rear end of the car and affected the balance for the remainder of the race. From then on, we were really limited by the poor performance and pace of the car this weekend.

"We did all that we could but were not able to make any headway up the field."

Button gained pace on harder tyres later in the race, but was too far adrift of the field to make progress.

"Unfortunately going with the option for my first stint didn't work well and I really suffered from this in the early laps," he said.

"I was passed by a few cars around the first lap and from then on had graining on the front and rear tyres which meant I was slow through the corners and we couldn't compete on straightline speed, particularly with a heavy fuel load.

"Once we put the prime tyre on for the second stint, the balance was much better, but by then it was impossible to catch up and make progress."

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