BAR Honda leapfrogged Sauber into fifth place in the 2003 constructors’ championship on Sunday, following spirited performances by Jenson Button and Takuma Sato at Suzuka.

BAR Honda leapfrogged Sauber into fifth place in the 2003 constructors’ championship on Sunday, following spirited performances by Jenson Button and Takuma Sato at Suzuka.


BAR won a five-team battle to finish behind front-runners Ferrari, Williams-BMW, McLaren-Mercedes and Renault in the constructors' title race. The Brackley-based team pocketed a total of eight points at engine supplier Honda's home track.


Button finished fourth with new team-mate Sato, who replaced a disillusioned 1997 World Champion Jacques Villeneuve on Thursday, sixth on his racing début for the team.


"That was incredible!" said Button. "We came here fighting for two points and came away with eight, which is amazing. We really deserved this result and to finally secure fifth place in the championship is a great way for the team to finish the season”.


Following his first grand prix outing since Suzuka last year, Sato said: "I'm absolutely thrilled. Racing here this weekend came as a total surprise but to finish sixth and play a part in securing fifth place in the championship is just amazing. And all in front of my home crowd!


"I had a close call with Michael (Schumacher) in the chicane, but I had the line and he came up on the inside of me. This is a great way to start my racing career with BAR and now I can't wait for next season."


Meanwhile, Sauber drivers Nick Heidfeld and Heinz-Harald Frentzen were unable to repeat their good performances at Indianapolis. Both drivers felt that they were victims of rough driving manoeuvres in Sunday's Japanese Grand Prix.


Heidfeld was hit twice by Jaguar's Justin Wilson at the first corner, which pushed him wide and almost on to the grass, while Heinz-Harald Frentzen was clipped by a spinning Ralf Schumacher (Williams), which might have contributed to his retirement from what could be his last grand prix.


"The start was good, but between Turns 1 and 2 Wilson collided with me a few times and pushed me into the dirt," said Heidfeld. "I lost some places, which was annoying. After that I was able to catch up lap by lap. Unfortunately I finished only ninth and couldn't score points, so sadly we couldn't defend our fifth place in the constructors' championship. We dropped a position, but BAR was simply too strong today."


His team-mate, who also loses his seat next year, was equally disgruntled. "It's a shame that I couldn't finish my race," said Frentzen. "Ralf Schumacher hit the rear of my car quite hard so I had to go to the pits, where we discovered that oil was leaking from a damaged cooler. Later the engine broke, so that was it."

Original article from Car