Takuma Sato returned to the racetrack today for his much-anticipated first test as Lucky Strike B*A*R Honda's new third driver. Takuma joined B*A*R for the third and final day of the team's debut test with the new B*A*R Honda 005 to familiarise ...
Takuma Sato returned to the racetrack today for his much-anticipated first test as Lucky Strike B*A*R Honda's new third driver. Takuma joined B*A*R for the third and final day of the team's debut test with the new B*A*R Honda 005 to familiarise himself with the car and continue to put more mileage on the new engine and gearbox.
The team enjoyed a positive morning's running until an electronics glitch led to a gearbox problem which compromised track time during the afternoon session. Later in the day, Takuma built up to some longer runs to complete further evaluation work for both B*A*R and Honda. He achieved a total of 44 laps (203 km) and a fastest lap time of 1:17.777.
Takuma last drove a Formula One car in the 2002 Japanese Grand Prix, where he secured a 5th place finish - his best performance of the season. Despite a three-month absence from the cockpit, he is in excellent physical condition ahead of a busy year of development work for his new team.
He commented: "I am very impressed with the new car. We focused mainly on mileage today rather than set-up work but it seems we have a very good starting point. The car is quick and stable so I'm looking forward to my next test when we'll be able to work more on set-up. It was unfortunate that we had to lose some running time this afternoon but it's good that the team have had no major problems this week. It's great to be working with B*A*R again after testing with them in 2001."
Today's running takes the total mileage for this inaugural test to nearly 500kms and the team remain encouraged by the solid start made with the new car. The best lap time of the programme was Anthony Davidson's 1:17.628 - B*A*R's best ever lap here at the Circuit de Catalunya.
Shuhei Nakamoto, Engineering Director for Honda Racing Development, commented: "Overall it has been a steady start to the RA003e's circuit career. There have been some problems, which is not unexpected for the first run of a new unit. However, three drivers have had a taste of the new engine and we have started the job of building up our data, which is very important for ongoing development."
B*A*R remain in Barcelona next week, where the team will also be running its second chassis. Alongside Jenson Button, Takuma Sato and Anthony Davidson will be Jacques Villeneuve, getting his first taste of the all-new B*A*R Honda 005.