The Honda Racing F1 Team returned to action this week to begin its preparations for the 2007 Formula One season as winter testing kicked off at the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona. The main focus of this week's test was an intensive evaluation of the new Bridgestone Potenza tyres as Bridgestone becomes the sole tyre supplier in Formula One from the 2007 season. Driving in Barcelona were Rubens Barrichello, new Test and Reserve driver Christian Klien and James Rossiter. Jenson Button also attended the test although was unable to drive due to his recent karting injury.
Rubens and James began the testing activity on Tuesday with both drivers concentrating on initial evaluation of the new Bridgestone rubber alongside a programme of set-up changes in the RA106 car. Rubens completed 83 laps with James finishing the day on 86 laps.
Christian had his first run in a Honda F1 car on Wednesday as he continues his familiarisation with the team. His early runs focused on acclimatising himself to the RA106 car and the Bridgestone tyres, which he is also experiencing for the first time. Christian then worked through a tyre programme and chassis set-up work to complete 79 laps. Rubens continued his tyre evaluation work for a second day, completing 96 laps.
Rubens and Christian were again on track today for the final day of the test. Both drivers spent the day working through suspension programmes as part of the continuing evaluation of the Bridgestone tyres. Rubens completed 115 laps with Christian ending the day with 103 laps.
"It's good to be back in the car again after the long break since Brazil. I have been working on my training in preparation as the hard work for our 2007 season starts here. It's good to be working with Bridgestone again and we've had a pretty good start to our new relationship. I think we have a decent understanding of how we can begin to maximise the tyres with our car and obviously the team has two more tests in Jerez to continue this development. All in all, a good start to our winter campaign."
"Overall I have had a good couple of days testing for my new team. It has been very enjoyable start to my relationship with Honda and I think I have worked well with the engineers and mechanics. After I had acclimatised to the car and started to understand the way the team operates, I was able to get down to some proper testing, generating some real data and feedback for the team to work with. Working with a new car, a new team and new tyres for the first time is always going to be a challenge but I am pretty happy with my performance here taking into account all those factors. I'm looking forward to Jerez where I am scheduled to run for two days."
"We had an interesting first day, running on the Bridgestone tyres for the first time. We spent the morning gathering data relevant to the tyres and during the afternoon we were able to work on some longer runs to evaluate the performance of the Bridgestones. Overall it was a successful day for me with no issues."
Mark Ellis - Chief Engineer Vehicle Performance:
"Our on-track preparations for the 2007 season started this week, with our primary focus on learning about the new Bridgestone tyres and developing the relationship with our new partner. It is early days and there is obviously a long way to go in adapting the car to optimise the performance of the tyres, but we are pleased with the progress we have made throughout this week. We have methodically collected a huge amount of data that will be analysed ahead of next week's test in Jerez where we will continue our work with the new tyres. We are pleased that Christian has adapted well to working with the team and was able to contribute positively to the programme in his first test."