Lucky Strike B*A*R Honda believes it is can provide a credible challenge to the top three teams with its all-new B*A*R Honda 006 car, launched today at Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya. The new car represents another major performance step - one...
Lucky Strike B*A*R Honda believes it is can provide a credible challenge to the top three teams with its all-new B*A*R Honda 006 car, launched today at Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya. The new car represents another major performance step - one which Team Principal David Richards predicts will see B*A*R fighting for regular podium places in 2004.
The success of last year's car was the result of a dramatic improvement in engineering standards, which enabled the team to move up from eighth to fifth place in the Championship, marking them out as the season's most improved team. A significant evolution of the 005, the B*A*R Honda 006 is a further step forward in design and build quality and the product of a more challenging and innovative approach.
The new chassis is stiffer and has a lower centre of gravity. It also features a smaller fuel capacity to reflect the revised qualifying rules and raised pit lane speeds. The biggest single development is the new gearbox. It features a full carbon-composite maincase, together with narrow, lightweight gear ratios which afford a very substantial weight reduction at the rear of the car. There are further weight-saving features throughout, with greater use of MMC (metal matrix composite), innovative upright design, simplified internal suspension components, and a refined and better integrated hydraulics system.
The new engine and chassis allow a slightly shorter wheelbase, and the aerodynamic package has been optimised. B*A*R has used the results of track testing last year to identify a new strategy for aerodynamic development, and the new car has been developed in the wind tunnel using these new techniques. Although the change of aerodynamic regulations has slowed down the pace of improvement, the new car shows clear performance advantages in the tunnel over its predecessor.
Honda has produced a new engine to meet the challenge of the single-engine rule introduced for the first time this season. Although similar in concept to the 2003 unit, it too is a completely revised design, with much smaller dimensions, reduced weight and a lower centre of gravity.
For 2004, B*A*R has also forged a new partnership with French tyre supplier Michelin. The team has conducted an extensive programme of tyre development during winter testing in readiness for their debut season together, using nearly 1,000 tyres during 10,000 kilometres of testing.
Getting their first taste of the B*A*R Honda 006 today were new team-mates Jenson Button and Takuma Sato - one of the youngest driver pairings on the 2004 grid. Despite having only recently turned 24 years of age, Jenson is entering his fifth season in Formula One in the role of B*A*R's team leader. Following Takuma's excellent, if somewhat impromptu, race debut for the team in Japan at the end of last season, he is looking forward to benefiting from his wealth of testing experience in his second full season of racing in F1.