Italian GP: Honda preview

The 15th round of the 2002 FIA Formula One World Championship brings Honda and its partner teams, DHL Jordan Honda and Lucky Strike B.A.R Honda, to Monza for the Italian Grand Prix. The circuit's high-speed characteristics see the normal testing...

The 15th round of the 2002 FIA Formula One World Championship brings Honda and its partner teams, DHL Jordan Honda and Lucky Strike B.A.R Honda, to Monza for the Italian Grand Prix. The circuit's high-speed characteristics see the normal testing restriction for the F1 contingent, which prevents teams from testing at a Grand Prix circuit less than 28 days prior to the race, lifted on safety grounds.

Both B.A.R Honda and Jordan Honda joined the other teams at Monza last week to refine their set-ups for this challenging and historic track - a circuit that has always put the emphasis on engine technology and outright horsepower and which has witnessed many Honda successes in the past.

Indeed, this year marks the 35th anniversary of Honda's maiden Grand Prix triumph in Europe. Back in September 1967, Honda arrived in Italy with a new chassis - the RA300 - armed with an upgraded 2993cc RA273E V12 engine. Having only given the new Honda the briefest of pre-race shakedowns at Goodwood in Britain, driver John Surtees initially adopted a cautious approach spending the early laps in a group just behind the pace-setting cars of Jim Clark and Jack Brabham.

However as the Grand Prix entered its final phase, Clark's Lotus ran out of fuel and Surtees, stretching the Honda engine to approaching 12000rpm, started to close on Brabham. Rounding the final turn, the Englishman made full use of the RA300's power to surge past his rival to record a dramatic victory by a mere 0.2 seconds in what was the fastest race of the 1967 season.

In the years since Surtees' famous victory, Honda has recorded five further Italian Grand Prix wins: 1986/1987, Nelson Piquet (Williams-Honda); 1989 Alain Prost (McLaren-Honda) and 1990/1991 Ayrton Senna (McLaren-Honda). Those six triumphs make Monza - along with Monte Carlo - the track on which Honda has achieved most wins. Adding to the sense of history, Honda's first ever pole position also came at Monza when Surtees set the fastest lap during qualifying for the 1968 Italian Grand Prix - a race he looked all set to win before being forced off the track when avoiding a spinning car.

Although the latest specification RA002E Honda engine that powers today's B.A.R and Jordan chassis shares some technical parameters with the RA273E which took Surtees to victory 35 years ago - both for instance are normally aspirated three-litre power plants built to a V-configuration with four-valves per cylinder - much has changed in the interim years. While the old V12 produced in excess of 420bhp at around 11,500rpm, such is the amazing current level of technology found within Formula One, that today's competitive V10s develop more than twice that amount and rev to over 18,000rpm.

To achieve this level of power output, Honda's engineers work tirelessly with state-of-the-art technologies, including lightweight materials and leading edge electronics to maximise engine performance. Today's advanced telemetry systems allow trackside technicians not only to monitor engine behaviour but also to fine-tune many of the V10's functions during a Grand Prix.

The huge changes experienced in Formula One over the past 35 years emphasise the enormous technical challenges faced by those competing at the highest level. It also underlines Honda's deep-seated philosophy that racing improves the breed.

Shuhei Nakamoto - Race and Test Team Manager, Honda Racing Development

"Last week's Monza test was the first chance we had to test our engine revisions away from a Grand Prix weekend following the three week testing ban. We'll be introducing a step up at the Italian Grand Prix and we're looking forward to continuing the fight for more points on race day."

-honda-

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Jim Clark , Alain Prost , Nelson Piquet , Jack Brabham , John Surtees , Shuhei Nakamoto
Teams McLaren , Williams , Jordan