Button fired up as BAR return to fray

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The Independent Online

Weary teams journeyed straight from Monaco to Nürburgring expecting a bit of a chill in the German air to revive them as Formula One moves into its punishing regime of eight races in 10 weeks. What they did not expect was the unseasonable broiling weather in the Eifel region that has rivalled Bahrain in April as the air temperature hit 30C. For Jenson Button's BAR-Honda team, that was one of the last things they needed as they made their return from a two-race ban.

Weary teams journeyed straight from Monaco to Nürburgring expecting a bit of a chill in the German air to revive them as Formula One moves into its punishing regime of eight races in 10 weeks. What they did not expect was the unseasonable broiling weather in the Eifel region that has rivalled Bahrain in April as the air temperature hit 30C. For Jenson Button's BAR-Honda team, that was one of the last things they needed as they made their return from a two-race ban.

The governing body of international motor sport, the FIA, have not allowed BAR-Honda to fit new engines but have insisted that, under the rules which demand that engines must last two races, they have to use the same units from the Italian race. These are sealed, and have been standing for five weeks, leading to concerns at Honda that corrosion might have compromised their reliability.

"It's been very strange watching races. It's so exciting to be back here," Button said. "We have been very positive about doing the best that we can. Our problem will be having to go out first and second in qualifying on Saturday. I like the new system, but I wish it had been delayed a race. I'm very optimistic about the car. We took a big step forward prior to Imola, and again on the aero front during testing at Mugello afterwards. That is the biggest step we have made with this car. We are all really happy with the changes, which don't just give us more downforce, but also help the car's stability."

Button is shooting for a podium finish, and after yesterday's practice, where he finished 14th, he added: "The conditions weren't ideal for gauging where we are, but it wasn't the day where we needed to push. We'll think about unleashing it a little bit tomorrow."

On paper, Alexander Wurz for McLaren-Mercedes and Ricardo Zonta for Toyota had a big margin yesterday, but Friday test drivers run to different programmes. Now that there is no need for teams to run with light fuel loads you can take them out of the equation. That leaves Williams- BMW, McLaren, Ferrari, Renault and Toyota pretty close on lap times. Ferrari, in particular, were encouraged by their performance even though Michael Schumacher was held up by an electrical problem.

And his arguments with his brother, Ralf, and team-mate Rubens Barrichello, arising out of last Sunday's Monaco Grand Prix? Michael is adamant they have all kissed and made up. "We are both highly competitive race drivers, we fight on the circuit, everyone for their own interest, in a way for his team," he said with regard to Ralf. "But you never forget he is your brother, and you love your brother. You finish the race, you may have some more emotions, but it doesn't really matter. At the end of the day it is your brother, your blood, and everything that has been written in these silly newspapers at this moment, if you would know us two, then you know it is 'BS' [bullshit]. As for Rubens, I called him on his birthday last Monday, and we were fine."

So now you know.

* An Italian appeals court has acquitted the Williams defendants in the manslaughter trial over the death of Ayrton Senna, who died in 1994 during the San Marino Grand Prix. The court ruled that Adrian Newey, Williams' former chief designer, was innocent, while the case against their technical director, Patrick Head, was "timed out" under a statute of limitations.

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