Lucky Strike B*A*R Honda resumed its winter testing programme in Barcelona on Tuesday 20 January. Jenson Button, Takuma Sato and Anthony Davidson all undertook driving duties of the '04 Concept car duo during the three-day programme, with the...
Lucky Strike B*A*R Honda resumed its winter testing programme in Barcelona on Tuesday 20 January. Jenson Button, Takuma Sato and Anthony Davidson all undertook driving duties of the '04 Concept car duo during the three-day programme, with the focus on reliability and Michelin tyre development testing in preparation for the launch of the B*A*R Honda 006.
In perhaps the most encouraging test for the team yet, Jenson Button demonstrated his determination for the forthcoming season by breaking the lap record at the revised Circuit de Catalunya. He set an impressive time of 1:14.588, the first driver to break the 75-second barrier, and more than a second faster than the previous record.
Jenson had joined the test on Wednesday morning, alongside Takuma Sato, who had already been at the wheel of the car for a day. Jenson was buoyed by the performance of the car when he set the fifth fastest time on his first visit to the revised track with 1:16.621. Over his three days of testing he completed 203 laps and accomplished the allocated mileage for Honda.
Jenson concluded the test today by working through a tyre evaluation programme, and then unfortunately suffered from an engine problem which confined the car in the garage for the rest of the afternoon due to fire damage. He took over the second chassis to complete a final 15 laps this afternoon.
The main objective for Takuma's programme was to continue tyre development and reliability testing. He spent Tuesday morning tyre testing, before moving on to a set-up programme, completing 89 laps of the Spanish track. On Wednesday, Takuma enjoyed a positive day, completing four 16-lap runs of a simulated race distance. He reached Honda's target mileage of 810kms and completed 85 laps. Yesterday, Takuma undertook some set-up testing. With a good race set-up established he continued tyre testing and set a very encouraging time of 1:15.559, completing 90 laps.
Anthony Davidson tested the '04 Concept car on Tuesday and Friday. Anthony suffered an engine problem on Tuesday afternoon, but this was quickly rectified and he was back out on track to finish the afternoon session. He completed 82 laps, recording a fastest time of 1:17.202. Today, he notched up a further 68 laps, whilst working through a comprehensive tyre and chassis set-up programme.
B*A*R will recommence testing on Tuesday 27 January in Valencia with a three-day programme prior to the launch of the B*A*R Honda 006 at the Circuit de Catalunya on Sunday 1 February.
"Obviously, it's a great feeling to have broken the lap record, especially with so many of the top teams here. Over the last few tests, we have really been concentrating on testing the car for reliability, and yesterday was the first time we had tried to do a reasonable lap. Because of that, we are extremely encouraged with the time, as the data seems to tell us we are heading in the right direction - although we won't really know until Melbourne. It has put a smile on everyone's face, which is very important in the build-up to the season."
"This test has been very successful. Over the last three days I have had no problems with the car and we have been able to complete all of our planned programmes. This has been the first time I have tested the '04 Concept car in Barcelona and it is good to test it on a different track. The reliability has been very good and has allowed us to put a lot of mileage on the cars. The tyre development programme is also very much on target and on this test I completed a lot of short and long runs on the Michelins. There is now only one more test in Valencia before we introduce the B*A*R Honda 006, so I am very excited about the coming weeks."
"It has been a mixed test for me. Although I did get some very important tyre work done, it was unfortunate that we had the engine problems as I did lose some time on track. From a personal point of view, I was pleased as I achieved my best lap time ever at Barcelona with a 1:17.202, and from a team perspective everyone was very happy with Jenson's new lap record. I think we have now demonstrated that the car is strong and quick."
Geoffrey Willis, Technical Director:
"As we draw close to the end of the '04 Concept car testing programme, we have achieved the majority of our targets for performance reliability of the complex rear-end systems. We have learned a great deal during the testing programme with Michelin, and have been very impressed with their approach and the performance of their tyres."
"The overall performance and reliability of the '04 Concept car has been very encouraging and has given us confidence in the bold steps we have taken for the 2004 car. We are expecting another good step in chassis and aerodynamic performance for the B*A*R Honda 006, so we are very much looking forward to getting the new car out on track and confirming our expectations."
Shuhei Nakamoto, Engineering Director, Honda Racing Development:
"I was happy to see Jenson recording a new lap record this week and we now have a much better idea of the overall speed of our car. From the engine point of view, we have successfully completed another race distance during this test but we have also suffered some engine failures. All our guys are working flat-out to solve the problem before our test in Valencia next week."