Honda ultimately came away empty-handed and disappointed from the Monaco Grand Prix, after the squad's best qualifying performance of the season so far had left them with high hopes of opening their points-scoring account.

Having lined up ninth and tenth on the grid - the first time either Honda machine had made it into the top ten in qualifying in 2007, let alone both of them - Rubens Barrichello made a promising start by leaping up to seventh position, where he would remain until he made his first pit-stop around half-distance. A second stop later in the race, however, would drop the Brazilian back out of the points once more.

"I'm disappointed with tenth because I thought we had a shot at the points today," he lamented afterwards, "but the opportunities didn't materialise. After my first pit-stop I was held up by (Alex) Wurz and that was that really. I was a little bit faster than him and if I could have got past then there was a chance to close the gap and get closer to the points, but there was no possibility to overtake.

"Overall I think we have had a slightly better weekend and we just have to keep pushing now and continue to move in the right direction. I hope for better things in Canada."

Jenson Button tracked his team-mate across the line in the end in eleventh place, after running in the same position on a heavy fuel load for much of the early stages. He at least had the satisfaction of having kept Kimi Raikkonen's unquestionably faster Ferrari behind him for the whole of his opening stint.

"It was a difficult race today," the Briton acknowledged. "I was stuck in traffic in all three stints and never got a clear run, so I couldn't make the most of the strategy. After yesterday's qualifying it is disappointing but we have to take some encouragement from the signs of improvement we saw here earlier in the weekend, keep our heads down and focus on what we are doing to move forwards."

Engineering Director Jacky Eeckelaert was similarly frustrated by the eventual outcome, but convinced the team was finally beginning to make genuine progress up the order following a dispiriting start to the campaign.

"After achieving ninth and tenth in qualifying yesterday we hoped for a points finish today," the Belgian admitted. "Rubens got a good start, making up some places over the first few corners, and then both drivers held their positions reasonably well over the first pit-stops. However, our race pace was not fast enough for us to finish in the points.

"We have clearly made a step in the right direction and we are now knocking on the door of the points placings. Despite no testing before the two North American races, we will have some improvements there with which to try to close the gap to the teams directly in front of us."

 

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