Opening practice for one of the hottest Grands Prix in the 2004 calendar got underway at the Sepang Circuit in Kuala Lumpur today, providing the Lucky Strike B*A*R Honda team with its first real opportunity to gauge the performance of the B*A*R ...
Opening practice for one of the hottest Grands Prix in the 2004 calendar got underway at the Sepang Circuit in Kuala Lumpur today, providing the Lucky Strike B*A*R Honda team with its first real opportunity to gauge the performance of the B*A*R Honda 006 in high ambient temperatures. The car responded well in the searing heat, with third driver Anthony Davidson the focus of much of the team's track action during the morning. He enjoyed a trouble-free session in which he notched up 21 laps and the third fastest time.
The afternoon was a rather more frustrating story, with the pace of the 006 somewhat overshadowed by balance problems on Jenson's car and a premature conclusion to Takuma and Anthony's day. Takuma's car locked up heavily under braking into turn 3, causing him to spin off the track and lose his front wing as he struck the armco. He returned to the track and placed himself in the top 10 before a brake problem confined him to the garage for the rest of the session.
Anthony was focusing on longer runs in the second session, but his day's running was brought to a premature conclusion when the car stopped out on track with an engine problem, the cause of which is currently being investigated. Jenson, Takuma and Anthony ended the day 11th, 15th and 17th respectively.
Today's peak air temperature of 38°C set the tone for what is certain to be a typically scorching Malaysian Grand Prix weekend with very high humidity levels and the constant threat of a sudden thunderstorm.
"We were able to complete our planned programme with my car, but I've struggled with to get a good balance for most of the day and we haven't been able to get on top of it yet. There is more to come from the car, we just have a lot of work to do in order to find it. We'll be spending the evening examining the data and trying to get to grips with the problem ahead of tomorrow."
"I had a problem with the brakes which compromised my running and I ended the day having completed only 10 laps, which is quite disappointing. We have a lot of work to do this evening and a lot of laps to do tomorrow morning in preparation for qualifying. Generally, a tough day."
"I've really enjoyed my first taste of the Sepang circuit, despite these being the hottest conditions I've ever competed in. It's one of the most technical tracks on the calendar but I got to grips with it pretty quickly. It's a lot of fun to drive with some great late apex corners. I had a very positive morning focusing mainly on short runs to find the performance over one lap. The car felt good so I was pleased to end the session in third place. This afternoon, I was five laps into a longer run when an engine problem stopped me out on track. It's very disappointing because that run would have provided us with much-needed tyre information to help us with our selection for tomorrow."
David Richards, Team Principal:
"Despite the fact that it has quite obviously been a frustrating day, the times are relatively close and we have improved the car over long runs, which was one of the issues we had to address after Australia. The heat is certainly taking its toll on the team and we're facing very different conditions from those that we've tested in throughout the winter. However, the drivers are looking extremely fit and I'm sure this will be one of our strengths when it comes to the race on Sunday."
Geoffrey Willis, Technical Director:
"We got off to a positive start this morning, but the afternoon session has been somewhat frustrating. Anthony completed most of the running in the first session, and to plan, but unfortunately he stopped out on track early on in his first run of the afternoon. The plan for the race drivers was to complete most of their mileage this afternoon but on Takuma's first run he damaged the nose and front wing when he spun under braking. On his subsequent run he had a problem with his brake pedal being held on by some debris which found its way into the cockpit. Jenson was able to complete his full programme but we now have to make our tyre choice from the somewhat limited running we have had today."
Shuhei Nakamoto, Engineering Director, Honda Racing Development:
"We made some progress with Jenson's car which gives us a base to work on for the rest of the weekend. Taku and Anthony's sessions were cut short by problems, which we are looking into at the moment. We need to make sure both Jenson and Taku get a good number of laps in tomorrow morning."
Chassis: BAR Honda 006-03
Lap time: 1:35.407
Chassis: BAR Honda 006-01
Lap time: 1:36.292
Anthony Davidson - Third Driver
Chassis: BAR Honda 006-02
Lap time: 1:36.708