The 2007 Formula One season gets underway with the curtain-raising Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne next weekend.
Following the launch of the Honda Racing F1 Team's pioneering environmental initiative, the Australian Grand Prix will see the Honda RA107 take to the track in its new 'earth' livery for the first time. In support of the campaign to raise environmental awareness, the team's race drivers Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello will be visiting the Albert Park Primary School at the start of the race weekend to join the schoolchildren in an energy-saving programme.
On the race track, the team goes into the new season with continuity in its race driver line-up as Jenson and Rubens enter their second season together at the team, giving Honda one of the most experienced driver pairings on the 2007 grid.
Shuhei Nakamoto - Senior Technical Director:
"We have set high targets for this, our second season as a 100% Honda team, and, as always, are excited about getting down to business at the Australian Grand Prix. Although we have made some progress in the recent test in Bahrain, we still have to find more improvements to take us to where we want to be. Our race pace looks stronger than our qualifying pace at the moment. All in all, we must try to get the best out of our current package, whilst continuing to work hard on the development of new items for the test in Sepang after Melbourne."
"The Australian Grand Prix is always one of my favourite races on the calendar and I enjoy spending time in Melbourne where there is a great atmosphere over the race weekend. I feel totally at home with the Honda team this year so I really expect a better season and I am so motivated to start racing again. I'm also looking forward to being back on Bridgestone tyres for this season, which should be a good thing for me as I have so much experience with Bridgestone."
"At the Honda team, we have made some significant progress through pre-season testing since the launch of the RA107 but there is still work to do. I have no doubt that with the resources of Honda, we can continue to improve the car throughout the season and we have a lot to look forward to."
Jenson Button on the Albert Park Circuit:
Jenson Button began his F1 career in Melbourne in 2000 and talks us around the city and the Albert Park circuit.
"Obviously Melbourne is a very special place for me as the circuit where I made my F1 debut. But it's more than just the race track in Albert Park. I love the very special atmosphere of the city, both in its own right and from the sheer buzz involved in being at the first race of the season. The setting of the circuit is also one of the best on the calendar."
"Once I'm in Australia, in the immediate run-up to the race I will be getting down to some more serious training. I've got a friend there who I go riding down round the coast beyond St Kilda. It's a terrific place to prepare for the race and when I'm not training, I will be checking out the local restaurants which are great."
"The weather conditions for the race can be pretty variable. One year it can be cold with the winds blowing up from the Antarctic and the next it can be really warm. I much prefer it when the weather is warm so fingers crossed for this year."
"Being the first race it can get a little bit chaotic going down to the first corner. The track is very bumpy and you have to be careful not to lock up your wheels over the bumps into the braking area and just stay out of trouble really. The start is the best place to overtake. You can also get past into Ascari, the fast right hander after the back straight, once you come cleanly off the fast left-right bend at Waite. There is also a slim possibility of squeezing by into turn three."
"It is very important to get your corner apexes right here. On some circuits braking is the most important thing, but here there are so many chicanes and ess-bends that you have to be very precise and consistent."
"Everything that you have been working on over the winter needs to come together for the first race of the season, so its about choosing the right race strategy, making sure that the pit crew get everything right and good mechanical reliability."