B.A.R GET OFF TO STRONG START WITH '04 CONCEPT CAR This week, the Lucky Strike B*A*R Honda team returned to action at the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona as the six-week test ban was lifted, allowing the teams to begin preparations for 2004.
B.A.R GET OFF TO STRONG START WITH '04 CONCEPT CAR
This week, the Lucky Strike B*A*R Honda team returned to action at the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona as the six-week test ban was lifted, allowing the teams to begin preparations for 2004. Jenson Button and Takuma Sato carried out the driving duties at the intensive three-day test (25-27 November), which saw the introduction of the '04 Concept car, an interim step before the February launch of the B*A*R Honda 006.
The demanding 4.728km Barcelona track is situated 20 km north of the Catalan capital and is an ideal venue for testing aerodynamic efficiency and tyres and features a mixture of high and low-speed corners and a long straight. The main focus of the test was to evaluate the performance of the new rear-end package which included the 2004 engine from Honda, and was also the first opportunity for the team to work with Michelin and to re-optimise the car in light of this change.
Following a preparation and installation day on Tuesday, Jenson was able to complete over 740km of testing over Wednesday and Thursday. Takuma, who was driving the B*A*R Honda 005 car, completed a total of 45 laps on the first day as part of a tyre evaluation programme.
On Wednesday, Jenson took the opportunity to get to grips with the Concept car and its Michelin tyres. He completed 84 laps without any problems, setting the second quickest time of the day, 01:17.422. Taku, who was continuing with tyre evaluation in the B*A*R Honda 005, also experienced good reliability and notched up 69 laps during the day with a fastest time of 01:17.699.
Despite overnight rain, which left the track cold and damp, the final day saw both drivers covering a considerable distance in their respective cars. The rain presented a chance for the team to try the Michelin wet tyres for the first time and both Jenson and Taku completed a short wet tyre programme.
On the final day, Jenson completed 87 laps in the '04 Concept car with a best time of 01:17.495, while Taku managed an excellent 108 laps with a fastest lap of 01:18.054. Over the three days, the two drivers completed 1868km.
"I am really glad to be back behind the wheel. The team concentrated on running through procedures and working on reliability and after an installation day on Tuesday, the car has been running very smoothly. I think we have achieved what we hoped to do, which was to get a good number of miles on the car, and we have managed over 400 kilometres on each of the last two days."
"The new Honda engine has been running well and reliably, which is a good sign. This has also been the first test working with our new tyre partners, and as expected we have learned a lot about the differences needed in car set-up. The team is going to do a lot of work on the basis of what we have learned and that will help us to find the best set-up and get the most out of the tyres at the remaining two tests of the year. It has been encouraging to see the times we have set and it will be good to get some more miles on the clock in Jerez next week."
"It was a great feeling to get back into the cockpit; it seems a long time since Suzuka! This was my first test as a B*A*R race driver and I was much more aware that my feedback would have a direct influence on myself, rather than just for the team and I think that helped me to focus even more."
"My race engineer, Jock Clear, and I worked hard together over the three days and I think we're building on our relationship, which started in Suzuka. We have a good understanding of each other and are developing my personal set-up. It was also good to see Jenson again and pick up where we left off in Japan. Together, I think we can develop a very strong car for B*A*R over the testing period. I was excited to hear his comments on the '04 Concept car and I can't wait to drive it myself."
Geoffrey Willis, Technical Director:
"This was the first time we had run the 2004 engine and rear-end package together and we also had our first outings on Michelin tyres. It was to be expected that there would be initial teething problems with all of these new elements being brought together, so the fact that we were able to complete over 400 km fault free on the first full day (421 km in total) with a completely new engine, gearbox, suspension and hydraulics is very impressive and a tribute to all the hard work and attention that has gone in to design, manufacture and build."
"We have an extensive test programme planned for the rest of the year and beyond, and the aim now is to continue our assessment of the new package in terms of reliability and to build on the relationship we have established with Michelin this week."
Shuhei Nakamoto, Engineering Director, Honda Racing Development:
"It's great to be back in action on the track, and we're pleased with the first test of our new engine, having had no hardware problems with it over the three days. We have collected a lot of data, which we are encouraged by and we are looking forward to next week's test in Jerez, where we will be running an engine with a longer life than this one."