Honda was the sixth team to unveil its 2007 challenger when the RA107 was presented at Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya on January 25th. For the moment the new car is in mostly black testing colours, ahead of a separate launch of the new livery in February. The team's management and race drivers Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello were present to talk about the the RA107 and hopes for this season.
It's the first car to be built since Honda's full scale wind tunnel became operational and, same as the other teams, improving aerodynamic efficiency was one of the key goals. Honda claims the car features some 'innovative packing solutions', especially around the exhaust and radiators. The RA107 had its track debut on Wednesday at this same circuit.
"We were pleased with the initial performance indications from our first full day of testing with the RA107," said senior technical director Shuhei Nakamoto. "There is a great deal of on-track development work to conduct before we embark on the racing season, however positive signs from the car's testing debut provide the reassurance that we have taken a good direction."
This season Button and Barrichello are joined by ex-Red Bull man Christian Klien as official test and third driver, while Honda development driver James Rossiter steps up to an official test role. Barrichello was the man who put the RA107 through its initial paces and he was encouraged by his first impressions.
"I am impressed by how the car and the team have evolved during my first year here and it is clear that the RA107 is a step in the right direction," he commented. "The RA107's new steering and suspension geometry is better suited to the new Bridgestone Potenza tyres, giving a good balance. The revised traction control system also makes it possible for us to get closer to maximising the potential of the tyres."
While many people believe this year's championship will be fought between Ferrari and McLaren, Button has not been counted out of the picture. He secured his and Honda's maiden victory in Hungary in 2006 and the team seemed to be on an upward trend towards the end of last season. Button believes fighting for the title in 2007 is realistic.
"This year we will hopefully make even greater strides towards our dream of winning the World Championship together and I feel that as we enter our second year under full Honda ownership we have a realistic opportunity of moving closer to that objective," he commented. "There is a great deal of work to be done between now and Australia."
"For me, the most important thing going into this season is the atmosphere within the team and the confidence. It's something that's really been building since mid-last season. If we can build on what we had towards the end of last year I'll be a very happy man."
Button has been out of action during winter testing due to cracked ribs but was back in the cockpit of last year's chassis on Wednesday. Today he was ready to get his first taste of the RA107 but the car rather ignominiously ground to a halt on his out lap. However, after a brief spell in the pits he was up and running again.
Honda CEO Nick Fry praised the co-operation between the team's bases in the UK and Japan and said the RA107 was a 'true international team effort'. "This year we aim to build on the latter part of the 2006 season and successful pre-Christmas testing, during which we completed more testing than any other team," he said.
"We intend to benefit from continuity of drivers and key personnel, combined with performance improvement designed into the new RA107 using our full-scale wind tunnel which was completed last season, to move closer to realising our World Championship ambitions."
RA107 technical specifications
Construction: Moulded carbon fibre and honeycomb composite structure that surpasses latest FIA impact and strength regulations
Front suspension: Wishbone and pushrod-activated torsion springs and rockers, mechanical anti-roll bar
Rear suspension: Wishbone and pushrod-activated torsion springs and rockers, mechanical anti-roll bar
Wheels: BBS forged magnesium
Front: 312mm wide
Rear: 340mm wide
Tyres: Bridgestone Potenza
Front: 2 x 6-piston calipers
Rear: 2 x 6-piston calipers
Brake discs/pads: Carbon/Carbon
Steering: Honda F1 power assisted rack and pinion
Steering wheel: Honda F1 carbon fibre construction
Driver's seat: Anatomically formed carbon composite
Seat belts: Takata six-point harness (75mm shoulder straps with HANS system)
Fuel cell: ATL kevlar-reinforced rubber bladder
Fuel capacity: 150 litre
Battery: 3Ah lead acid
Instrumentation: Honda F1 steering wheel dash display
Gearbox: Carbon composite maincase: 7-speed unit, Honda internals
Gear selection: Sequential, semi-automatic, hydraulic activation
Clutch: Carbon plate
Overall length: 4700mm
Overall height: 950
Displacement: 2.4 litres
Configuration: V8, naturally aspirated
Vee angle: 90 degrees
Maximum power: More than 700 ps
Maximum revs: 19,000 rpm
Valve train: 4 valves per cylinder; pneumatic valve system
Injection system: Honda PGM-FI
Throttle system: Electronic hydraulically-operated system
Ignition system: Honda PGM-IG