The Honda Racing F1 Team returned to the test track this week following the first two flyaway races of the 2006 Formula One season. Fresh from a podium finish for Jenson Button in Malaysia, the team has now turned its attention to preparations for...
The Honda Racing F1 Team returned to the test track this week following the first two flyaway races of the 2006 Formula One season. Fresh from a podium finish for Jenson Button in Malaysia, the team has now turned its attention to preparations for the upcoming race in Australia and the European season which starts in four weeks time.
Third driver Anthony Davidson and young driver James Rossiter completed the bulk of the test programme at the Vallelunga circuit in Italy, with Rubens Barrichello joining the team on the third and final day. The focus for the week was a comprehensive Michelin tyre programme, brake evaluations and chassis set-up work, alongside running the latest specification Honda engine.
As with the other F1 tests throughout Europe, the inconsistent weather played its role in the test schedule this week. Intermittent rain showers prevented any dry running on Tuesday morning, so both drivers completed early wet set-up runs.
The circuit dried out sufficiently by early afternoon to allow Anthony and James to begin their dry programmes. Anthony ran through a tyre evaluation completing 140 laps, with James concentrating on a chassis programme looking at various set-up options in the new chassis 05, completing 97 laps.
Wednesday dawned bright and sunny although the weather conditions deteriorated quickly. Both drivers concentrated on chassis set-up evaluations in their respective cars. Despite rain showers which affected the test programme during the afternoon session, Anthony completed 67 laps, with James running for 35 laps.
Rubens joined the team on Friday and completed some early runs to acclimatise himself to the circuit and track conditions. Anthony began the day running through further chassis set-up work before a rain shower brought the morning session to an early close.
The weather conditions continued to deteriorate with thunderstorms followed by heavy rain preventing any further running until the last hour of the day. Both drivers were then able to go out on extreme wet tyres to complete a few runs before the circuit closed. Rubens completed 46 laps today, with Anthony running for 82 laps.
"I had a few dry runs in the car this morning but was still learning the circuit by the time that it started raining. The end of the day was more positive as I had a couple of runs right at the end on wet tyres to give me more of a feel for the car and set-up. This track has helped me test the new ideas that we have, which I found useful, and I will certainly be using these in Australia and hope to have a good weekend there."
"It was interesting going to a new circuit at Vallelunga this week, although we struggled with the weather. Day one was the best day of running where we did 140 laps. We have made good headway with some control developments over the week and found positive results. We also worked on general set-up for the car and put lots of mileage on one engine. I'm looking forward to going to Melbourne and driving on Friday again."
"We had a good day in Vallelunga on Tuesday, It was the first time I've been here so we spent some time learning the circuit. The afternoon session was particularly useful as we were able to complete some good dry running which really helped me understand the car and we made some progress on the set-up. The weather interrupted our running on Wednesday but we did manage to get some evaluations completed towards the end of the day."
Mark Ellis - Chief Engineer Vehicle Performance:
"Despite the variable weather this week, we have had a very positive test. Our main focus has been to work on the areas prioritised following the opening races and the Vallelunga circuit has lent itself well to these requirements."
"The weather has not prevented us working through a comprehensive programme with the electronic systems and we have made good progress with both the control systems and the chassis set-up in dry and wet conditions. We did not have enough dry running to complete all our planned tyre tests, but we have some very positive results that will carry forward to the next tests before the start of the European races."
Shuhei Nakamoto - Management Board Member, Honda Racing F1 Team - Engineering Director, Honda Racing Development:
"Due to the rain, we concentrated more on control systems improvements rather than the search for more power and higher revs this week. That has brought us some good results which will help us fix the most appropriate engine maps for Melbourne."