Honda and its partner teams, Lucky Strike B.A.R Honda and DHL Jordan Honda, will arrive at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit next weekend for the Belgian Grand Prix, the 14th round of the 2002 FIA Formula One World Championship. Otmar Szafnauer, ...
Honda and its partner teams, Lucky Strike B.A.R Honda and DHL Jordan Honda, will arrive at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit next weekend for the Belgian Grand Prix, the 14th round of the 2002 FIA Formula One World Championship.
Otmar Szafnauer, vice-president of Honda Racing Development (HRD), took time out in the run-up to next weekend's race to answer some questions on current issues surrounding Honda's Formula One programme. Below are some selected questions and answers.
Q: Honda announced at the Hungarian Grand Prix that its partnership with Jordan is to finish at the end of the 2002 season. Could you elaborate a little more on this?
"We're happy that we were able to reach a mutual agreement and release Jordan from the contract one year early so Eddie Jordan could sign a long-term engine deal for next year. We've strengthened the internal Formula One structure within Honda R&D and restructured our joint chassis development project with British American Racing. Honda will continue its challenge for the FIA Formula One World Championship with B.A.R and we're looking forward to some exciting racing next year."
Q: Was the two-team supply philosophy perhaps too ambitious for Honda?
"Ambitious? No. Honda re-entered F1 in 2000 after quite a long sabbatical and supplying two teams helped us develop an information base quickly in the first few years. Historically Honda has been very comfortable supplying two teams with engines or bikes in our many racing activities. We've learnt a great deal and definitely improved faster as a result, but we will be focusing all our efforts on one team from the end of this season."
Q: What stage of development is the new engine for 2003 at and what is the level of progress being made?
"The timing for next year's engine is pretty tight, as I'm sure it is with the other manufacturers. It's an entirely new engine and the design phase is almost complete, with the new powerplant scheduled to run on the dyno at the end of September. Following that there will be more upgrades and further dyno runs towards the end of this year, with the engine running in a car for the first time in early January. Although the timing is tight, the programme is on schedule and we'll continue to push ahead."
Q: The 2002 engine, the RA002E has benefited from a number of development steps during the season. Will that continue to the end of the year?
"Development steps will continue with the RA002E for the rest of the season. We made a significant step for the French Grand Prix and we expect two or three additional steps for the remainder of this year. There are four races left in which we will introduce further improvements to the engine."
The 2002 Belgian Grand Prix takes place at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit from Friday 30 August - Sunday 1 September.