After the cool temperatures of the Australian autumn, Lucky Strike B*A*R Honda's next stop will be in the searing heat and humidity of Kuala Lumpur for the Malaysian Grand Prix, round two of the 2004 FIA Formula One World Championship. Following...
After the cool temperatures of the Australian autumn, Lucky Strike B*A*R Honda's next stop will be in the searing heat and humidity of Kuala Lumpur for the Malaysian Grand Prix, round two of the 2004 FIA Formula One World Championship. Following the encouraging debut of the B*A*R Honda 006 at the first race of the season, the team is looking forward to getting back on track at the Sepang International Circuit.
The Sepang circuit was designed by Hermann Tilke, who has also designed this year's new facilities in Bahrain and Shanghai, and was seen as the pinnacle of modern circuits when it was introduced into the World Championship in 1999. The track features sweeping corners and wide straights, which encourage overtaking manoeuvres, and the intense heat makes the race extremely demanding for both car and driver.
B*A*R has been using the break between the first two races to carry out further development work at a four-day test in Valencia. Third driver Anthony Davidson has been at the wheel of the '04 Concept car carrying out tyre and set-up work before flying to Malaysia to take part in the Friday morning practice sessions.
Jenson Button performed well in last year's race, finishing in the points in seventh position. Prior to that, in 2002, he equalled his best ever result at the Malaysian track by finishing in fourth place. Takuma Sato's first outing at Sepang was in his second Grand Prix in 2002, when he brought his car home in a respectable ninth position.
"After the encouraging start we had in Melbourne last weekend, the Malaysian Grand Prix is looking good for us. It's great to be on the scoreboard already and we are going to Sepang with an even better package, so there is no reason to think we can't qualify and race well again. The Sepang circuit is really enjoyable and it has a lot of quick, flowing corners and some really fast straights. I've gone well there in the past."
"There are more overtaking opportunities than in Melbourne, and I think you will see a more closely-fought race. It's given me confidence that the B*A*R Honda 006 was so reliable in the first race and now that we have so much more experience with the car and Michelin tyres, we should be able to further improve on our race pace."
"We are confident heading to Malaysia as the car has proved to be reliable. I was personally disappointed not to get a point in Australia, but I think it was a very good start to the season for the whole team and the team is very focused. I genuinely think we will have a better package in Malaysia, as we have some aero revisions available, so I'm really looking forward to it. I have only raced there once before but the track is great and it is a really good Grand Prix."
"It was only built recently, and you might expect that it would be less challenging, but Sepang is so unique and the high-speed corners are always very demanding, as are the heat and humidity. Fitness is very important, and I am going to a physical training camp in Langkawi for five days to prepare before heading to Kuala Lumpur."
David Richards, Team Principal:
"We've now had an opportunity to fully analyse our performance in Australia which, with two cars at the finish and some points on the board, was encouraging. We are certain, however, that there is far more performance to come out of the car and the team. The Sepang track and the high temperatures in Malaysia should make for a very different set of circumstances to Melbourne and I'm confident that this will be to B*A*R's advantage. I'm looking forward to us getting back on the track to continue the progress we have made over the winter months."
Geoffrey Willis, Technical Director:
"We were a little disappointed with the result in Australia, but we had a problem with the front wing on both cars, which were damaged at the first corner. However, we think Sepang should suit our car a little better as it tends to work well when the track is hotter. Sepang is not really a power circuit, you just need to be aerodynamically efficient and have good braking stability. Reliability in higher temperatures is also an issue and it will be hard on the cars and drivers. We are going there in a confident mood and looking to challenge the top three teams. We are happy with our qualifying pace and focusing very hard on race performance."
Shuhei Nakamoto, Engineering Director, Honda Racing Development:
"Australia was an encouraging start to the season, with our engine showing good reliability and performance. We need to keep the momentum going now, and the development work will continue in the short time before Malaysia to create an even better package for race two. We will be looking for a better result in the hot and humid conditions of Sepang."