Budapest, Hungary, August 6. At the Hungaroring on Sunday, Englishman Jenson Button scored his first-ever Formula 1 victory.
It was also Honda’s first win in the modern F1 era. Honda’s first-ever Formula 1 victory came in the final race of the 1.5-litre championship, the 1965 Mexican Grand Prix, won by American Richie Ginther in the V12-powered RA272. It’s only other win came in the 1967 Italian Grand Prix at Monza, won by John Surtees in the 3.0-litre RA300 V12. The RA300 chassis was developed by British race car builder, Lola.
Last Sunday, Button was followed home by Pedro de la Rosa (McLaren-Mercedes) and Nick Heidfeld (BMW-Sauber).
He had fought a battle for the lead with world champion Fernando Alonso before the Spaniard retired with a broken driveshaft on his Renault.
There were emotional scenes in the Honda garage after Button finally achieved the feat pundits have been predicting since his F1 career began in 2000 (he has started 130 Grands Prix).
"Wow, what a day!” Button said after the race. “This is such an amazing moment for me and one that I’ve worked my whole motor racing career for. I always had faith that we would achieve our objective together and this victory is testimony to that belief.
"I would also like to pay a very special tribute to my family who helped me start out on the path to victory. To win such a tough and challenging race from 14th place on the grid is incredible for me and all the more important because I know I won on merit today. No-one can dispute that today the Honda Racing F1 Team got everything right."
The race started in heavy rain and finished on a drying track.
The top contenders all dropped out. McLaren’s Kimi Raikkonen crashed after riding up on another car and almost overturning.
Ferrari’s Michael Schumacher was battling Heidfeld for third late in the race when a track rod broke on the Ferrari, sidelining the seven times world champion.
Button’s teammate Rubens Barrichello finished fourth after running second early in the race.
“It was a shame for me that we had the wrong tyres at the start or we could have both been on the podium,” said the Brazilian. “A huge effort from the team this weekend and we hope to carry that forward for future wins."
Honda F1 sporting director, former race Gil de Ferran, said it had just been a matter of time before Button won a Grand Prix.
“And a day like today where conditions were incredibly difficult, gave him the perfect setting to show the world a talent and class that all of us in the team knew he had all along. Jenson drove the perfect race from start to finish; he was fast and flawless throughout. Needless to say this race was very hard to manage from a strategic standpoint."
Honda president, Takeo Fukui, who was in Hungary, was “absolutely delighted” with the victory. “We have been aiming for victory from the first race of this year, and to have finally reached our goal at the 13th race of the season makes us extremely happy.”
Top six placings in the Hungarian GP.
1. Jenson Button, Great Britain, Honda.
2. Pedro de la Rosa, Spain, McLaren-Mercedes, 30.837s behind.
3. Nick Heidfeld, Germany, BMW-Sauber, 43.822s behind.
4. Rubens Barrichello, Brazil, Honda, 45.205s behind.
5. David Coulthard, GB, Red Bull, one lap down.
6. Ralf Schumacher, Germany, Toyota, one lap down.