by Chris Hayes

Jenson Button gifted Honda its first points of the season and his first since Shanghai last year with a superb charge to sixth place in Barcelona - though he hinted afterwards that it could have been even better still.

The British ace started the Spanish Grand Prix well outside the points-paying positions in 13th place, and was unable to make ground at the start. However, a long 29-lap middle stint, masterminded by esteemed technical director Ross Brawn, enabled the 28-year-old to scythe his way to the sharp end of the pack.

Nico Rosberg's retirement and an early second pit-stop from Jarno Trulli subsequently launched Button into sixth place behind Mark Webber, where he stayed for the rest of the race.

"It was a good race for us today, and I'm really pleased to finish in sixth with three points," he enthused afterwards. "Unfortunately the safety car came out at the wrong time for us, although I am pleased to hear that Heikki [Kovalainen] is ok. I was on a long first stint, so it was bad timing and definitely cost me some places.

"The car was working well, though, with the balance improving lap-by-lap, particularly in the last stint with harder tyres where I felt very comfortable. The team are doing a really good job, and we are benefiting from Ross' technical management."

Button was impressed with the handling of his RA108, which arrived in Barcelona equipped with several new aerodynamic components including, most visibly, so-called 'Dumbo wings' on the front nosecone.

"I got a really good feel for the new aero package during the race today, and it is definitely an improvement," the former Hungarian Grand Prix winner revealed. "The good thing is that what we are seeing from the car reflects the information from the wind tunnel.

"This circuit is not the best for our car, as it's bumpy here and we seem to lack some driveability over the bumps. When we get to the next race in Turkey, I expect the car to perform better."

Former Ferrari strategic genius Brawn echoed his driver's satisfaction with the performance of the new car.

"We have made a good step forward with the new upgrade package," the 53-year-old reflected, "and today's result reflects all the hard work that the team have put into developing the car since the start of the season.

"We are making good progress, which is encouraging for the rest of the season and for the future. I really feel that all elements of the team, chassis and engine are beginning to gel."

Rubens Barrichello, meanwhile, had an altogether more eventful race after a coming-together with Giancarlo Fisichella in the pit-lane cost the Brazilian his nosecone - and with it any chance of a points finish.

"The car was performing well today, so it was especially disappointing that the incident in the pit-lane with Fisichella brought my race to an end. From what we can see, it was just one of those unfortunate incidents," explained the Brazilian veteran after his record-equalling 256th grand prix.

"The team released me and advised me of traffic, so I stayed out of the fast lane. Fisichella overtook me and cut into his box, clipping my front wing at the same time.

"I managed to get round the lap with the wing caught under the front of the car, but unfortunately the damage caused to the bodywork was too great to continue and I was forced to retire. It's a shame, as I could have scored some good points today."

The 35-year-old, who 'unofficially' registered Honda's first points of the season back in Australia only to be disqualified for a pit-lane infringement, nevertheless professed himself happy with the handling of his RA108.

"We have certainly made a step forward in performance this weekend," he insisted. "The new aero package has performed well and although it took some tuning this week to ensure that we achieved the optimum set-up, the car was well-balanced and performing well in the race.

"There is still a long way to go, but it is encouraging to know that we are improving step-by-step. I look forward to the next few races and hope that we can continue to make progress."