Honda's weekend from Hell

Having made recent horsepower advances, Honda suffered no less than five engine failures over the Spa Grand Prix weekend.

Honda's weekend from Hell

No fewer than three of these befell Olivier Panis, one on each day, and ultimately took the Frenchman out of the race. Giancarlo Fisichella's was the most spectacular, his Jordan expiring in a sheet of flame on the run from Eau Rouge up to Les Combes. "It was very scary!" the Italian said.

"It's been the weekend from hell and I'm just glad it's all over," said Shuhei Nakamoto, Honda's race and test team manager. "We've got a lot of work to do before Monza..."

Extra grip from developments in the tyre war allied to traction control meant that almost 70 percent of the Spa lap was done at full throttle and at Monza the percentage is even higher.

Elsewhere, Mercedes developments saw David Coulthard able to tow past a Williams-BMW on the lap one run to Les Combes, something that would have been unthinkable a year ago. While straightline speeds always have to be viewed in the light of varying set-ups, the McLaren-Mercedes cars were second and third through the Spa race speed trap, beaten only by Schumacher's Ferrari. Mika Salo's Toyota was fourth.

Toyota tried a new specification engine in Salo's car in qualifying but did not race it. Engine chief Norbert Kreyer explained that the team intends to race the development engine in both cars at Spa, however.

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