F1 regulations stipulate engines must last two grands prix, but, as both BAR Hondas were running out of the points on Sunday, the team called its drivers to the pits so that Jenson Button and Takuma Sato can start the next race with brand new powerplants.

F1 regulations stipulate engines must last two grands prix, but, as both BAR Hondas were running out of the points on Sunday, the team called its drivers to the pits so that Jenson Button and Takuma Sato can start the next race with brand new powerplants.


The Brackley-based team suffered a terrible opening race of the season with their new 007 chassis. With both Button and Sato outside of the top eight runners, BAR Honda opted to retire both cars right before the end of the 58-lap Australian Grand Prix. In doing so, the team bypassed the new two-race engine rule.


FIA technical delegate Charlie Whiting said teams would not use this loophole to gain a new engine for the following race – in this case the Malaysian Grand Prix. But in Melbourne, the rule was exploited and two perfectly-functional race cars were retired.


"As we were out of the points, on the last lap we decided to stop both cars which gives us the opportunity to change engines for Malaysia without further penalty,” BAR Honda technical director Geoff Willis said. “This could be an advantage at a race where we normally encounter high temperatures.”


Indeed, Sepang could well encounter higher temperatures. Should another other team that finished out of the points today encounter an engine failure in Malaysia – such as Toyota, Sauber, Jordan or Minardi – then the squads may be left wondering why they bothered completing the Australian Grand Prix.


“We had a problem,” Button told when asked why he pulled into the pits just before the end of the race. “The guys came on the radio. I don’t know what it was (but) you’ll have to speak to the team about that.”