Surprised Villeneuve Delighted with Third

Canadian Jacques Villeneuve admitted he was surprised by his impressive performance in first qualifying for the season opening Australian Grand Prix.

Surprised Villeneuve Delighted with Third

Canadian Jacques Villeneuve admitted he was surprised by his impressive performance in first qualifying for the season opening Australian Grand Prix.

The 1997 World Champion was forced to use the spare BAR 005 for qualifying after his Honda engine let go during this morning's practice session. Villeneuve could only complete a handful of laps before the one-lap qualifying shootout, but nonetheless wound up third fastest, only behind Ferrari's Rubens Barrichello and McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen.

"I'm really surprised with third because we did hardly any running or set-up work this morning," admitted the Canadian. "I only completed two laps so I didn't know where to be on the race track, where to brake. I had to switch to the T-car and I thought that was it for the day; I thought we'd be qualifying 15th or something.

"Obviously I know the track but when you haven't done any set-up work there are no reference points. It's been a long time since I was this far up the grid and although today wasn't final qualifying, it was easy to see who was quick and who wasn't. It won't be as easy to see that tomorrow with people running different fuel levels. The guys did a fantastic job and it's a good result for the team."

Villeneuve's teammate Jenson Button was also hit by engine problems this morning, but like the Canadian, the Briton managed to recover well as he set a promising fifth fastest time in the second Honda-powered machine.

"After this morning's practice I'm delighted with fifth and it's a great team result," said Button. "The guys did a fantastic job. Today was the first running I've done in this car on low fuel so it's great to see that we're running up there with the quicker guys.

"I had a slow middle sector and then suffered with understeer in the final corner but generally the car felt great. I just wish these were our final qualifying positions! That would be nice."

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