Honda Racing / IZOD IndyCar Series / RacingLine
Button, Sato Lead F-1 Effort
But one of the most uplifting stories of 2003 was Jenson Button and the BAR Honda team.
Button, the 23-year-old Brit paired with former world champion Jacques Villeneuve, showed his grit and wound up ninth in the driver's standings - whipping his teammate at every turn and in the points, 17-6 - with a best finish of fourth.
Despite the BAR reliability problems, Button also managed to lead at Italy and Indy in '03 and received a rave review from F1 Racing magazine:
"Jenson drives right at the extremity of his car, pushing it to the edge in terms of late braking, engine revs and steering angle. He does so with skill and commitment, producing enough speed to establish himself as a potential winner."
Button's pre-season testing with the new V10 Honda has been promising and, if BAR can get a handle on the chassis, the English could have a lot to cheer about in 2004.
Button's teammate for '04 will be Japan's Takuma Sato, who was rewarded for his solid performance as a test driver for BAR and finished sixth in the '03 finale at Japan after taking over for Villeneuve.
Villeneuve is down the road and it's now left to Jenson and Sato to raise the BAR. The seventeen race formula one season starts March 7 in Aulburn, Australia.