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Button claims first pole

Lucky Strike B*A*R Honda driver Jenson Button will line up in pole position for the start of tomorrow's San Marino Grand Prix for the first time in his F1 career and the first in the team's history. Jenson shared an emotional moment with the entire team and its partners as he ended the session two tenths ahead of Michael Schumacher in Ferrari's own backyard. His sights are now firmly set on completing a hat-trick of podium finishes in tomorrow's race at the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari in Imola. Jenson's team-mate Takuma Sato posted the 7th fastest lap of the day to line up on the fourth row.

The team has enjoyed an excellent start to the first Grand Prix weekend of the European season, with Jenson consistently in the top 5 throughout all four free practice sessions. In yesterday's second session, both Jenson and Takuma locked out the top of the timesheets after posting the fastest and second-fastest times of the afternoon respectively.


Weather conditions remained warm and sunny for today's running, in which track temperatures peaked at 31°C against an ambient high of 28° C. Jenson and Takuma left the pit-lane third and fifth in line for their pre-qualifying runs, in view of their excellent combined result in the Bahrain Grand Prix three weeks ago. They ended that session 5th and 8th fastest. With positions reversed for the crucial single- lap qualifying, Takuma left the garage 13th in line and Jenson joining the track three cars later.


Today's positions represent the team's best-ever combined qualifying result, and the objective now is to use that advantage to target the best race finish of the team's 6-year career.


Jenson Button:

"Obviously I'm thrilled to achieve pole position - the first for me and the team. This is a fantastic moment in my career and the team's history, and I'm just so pleased for everyone who is now starting to see all their hard work and support pay off. It's great to break Ferrari's streak of poles so far this season - and on their home turf as well - but pole doesn't bring you points unless you work very hard in the race to maintain that starting position."


"We are under no illusions that tomorrow is going to be a tough race and we'll have to watch Michael every step of the way. But the car feels great; much better than in pre-qualifying when I had very low grip. I was really pleased with my lap and it all came together when it counted. For the first time in my F1 career I'll be starting the race with no one in front of me, which I know will be a special moment for me, but I'll be focusing 100% on the start lights because it's all down to me from there."


Takuma Sato:

"It was not a perfect final qualifying lap for me because I didn't feel that I had a lot of grip, so I'm not satisfied. I was possibly riding the kerbs too much in the last sector, but the car generally worked well and I think we will have a strong package tomorrow. It is great to have two cars qualifying so high at the first European grand prix, especially with Jenson's pole position. Our new package has been working incredibly well so everyone in the team and at Honda and Michelin should be very pleased with the results we have seen here. I am delighted that we have had such a good season so far and hopefully we can achieve another solid two-car finish tomorrow."


David Richards, Team Principal:

"Taking pole position in Italy has to be one of life's most exciting moments, and this demonstrates what an incredible job everyone has done. Jenson's calm and committed lap was superb, Honda has done a fantastic job and all our hard work with Michelin over the winter is now paying dividends. But I think as much as anything, it is the unsung heroes back at base in England who should be proud of everything we have achieved together for this pole position."


Geoffrey Willis, Technical Director:

"Naturally I'm delighted, but not too surprised, to be on pole here - the first pole position from the team and Michelin's first pole of the season. Following the last three very successful tests we felt confident that we would be highly competitive here and the new upgrades would be a significant advantage. We have a very strong driver line-up with all three of them working extremely well together, which gives us a big advantage. Both Jenson and Takuma have good race set-ups and it's now down to the whole team to maximise this opportunity tomorrow."


Shuhei Nakamoto, Engineering Director, Honda Racing Development

"Fantastic. Jenson really did a great lap. To have pole this weekend means a lot to us all because the last time we were on pole was with Ayrton in 1992. I am looking forward to seeing how both the guys get on in the main event tomorrow."

Press Release
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