Honda was expected to make its presence felt near the front of the field this season and be fighting for podiums and perhaps the odd win or two, but so far it's rather gone in the opposite direction. Neither Jenson Button nor Rubens Barrichello...
Honda was expected to make its presence felt near the front of the field this season and be fighting for podiums and perhaps the odd win or two, but so far it's rather gone in the opposite direction. Neither Jenson Button nor Rubens Barrichello has made it through to the qualifying top 10 yet and no points have been scored.
Of course, it's early days but obviously the situation is a cause for concern. "We're not producing enough grip I suppose, for the drag," Button said in Friday's FIA press conference at Sakhir. "We can be reasonably quick in a straight line but the car is pretty difficult to drive and we can't do a corner the same twice, pretty much, in a race. It is very difficult to be consistent."
Braking stability is an issue but not the only one. "Everything seems like it's not working," Button added. "It seems like the traction control is not the best TC that we've had and other parts of the car are the same. The package at the moment is not that great and as soon as we find more grip and downforce for the same sort of efficiency, I think all the other problems will fade away."
So what does Honda intend to do to rectify the problems? There have been rumours of the RA107 being scrapped completely and a new car bought in later in the season. CEO Nick Fry agreed with Button's assessment that the car lacks grip and said it is "principally an aerodynamic issue" and that's where changes will mostly take place.
"There are large parts of the car where we don't have any specially identified problem," Fry explained. "The gearbox seems to work, the engine -- with the exception of this afternoon -- has been pretty reliable, the main part of the monocoque, albeit that we may have to alter things to make some changes to the aerodynamic shape."
"As far as we can tell, the rear suspension seems perfectly okay. We are going to have to change a reasonable amount. I wouldn't call it a new car but it's not going to be insubstantial either." Some changes will be bought in for the next round at Barcelona and more will come for France. Fry described the process as "a series of rolling changes".
The rumour mill recently latched onto the idea of Honda making a bid for the services of former Ferrari technical director Ross Brawn. Brawn is currently on a sabbatical year from the Scuderia but although his future is undecided Fry believes that Ferrari has some kind of prior claim to the Englishman anyway. "No, it's not true," Fry stated when asked if he had made an offer to Brawn.
"I made one comment in Malaysia along the lines that I'm sure there are a number of people who might be interested in Ross… Maybe he will go back to Ferrari and maybe he will go fly-fishing, I don't know. The team principals talk to a lot of people all the time and we are no exception, but obviously in our situation we have spoken to a number of technically adept people."