The hopes of a nation's Formula One fans rest largely on Lucky Strike B*A*R Honda's shoulders this weekend as the team prepares to do battle in its home race at Silverstone. The race team hot-footed their way back from Magny-Cours to B*A*R's ...
The hopes of a nation's Formula One fans rest largely on Lucky Strike B*A*R Honda's shoulders this weekend as the team prepares to do battle in its home race at Silverstone. The race team hot-footed their way back from Magny-Cours to B*A*R's Northamptonshire base on Sunday night, ready to put all their efforts into the British Grand Prix, which takes place quite literally on the team's own doorstep.
Every team and driver wants to win their home event and B*A*R and lead driver Jenson Button are no exception. After an excellent first half of the season, in which he has brought home six trophies in ten races, Jenson's sights are firmly set on that elusive maiden win for himself and the team. There could be no better venue than Silverstone to take the victory spoils, where his legions of British fans will be out in force and practically the entire B*A*R workforce will take over a grandstand for the weekend to will both drivers to glory on home asphalt.
Round 11 of the Formula One World Championship is the last of three gruelling back-to-back races in the 2004 calendar, falling just one week after a disappointing French Grand Prix for the team. The problems which afflicted both Jenson and Takuma last weekend are the subject of the most rigorous investigations and the team will leave no stone unturned to ensure reliability is not an issue this Sunday.
The team consolidated its third place position in the Constructors' standings last weekend but lost all of the ground it had gained on Renault as a result of Takuma's retirement and the anti-stall trigger which cost Jenson precious time and a potential podium in his final pitstop.
Jenson will be gearing up for his Silverstone challenge when he races into London's Regent Street today (Tuesday 6 July). Over 100,000 spectators will get a rare opportunity to see Jenson and his B*A*R Honda race car at close quarters, albeit at a rather more sedate pace than the 300km/h plus speeds he will be unleashing next Sunday.
"After the disappointment of Magny-Cours, where we had a good chance of a podium, it feels great to be back in Britain to prepare for our home race. We targeted our first win for around this point in the season and it goes without saying that it would be fantastic to achieve that this weekend. This race is special for so many reasons. I love racing here and will never forget my debut F1 race here four years ago when I passed Michael Schumacher on the first lap. He might have been on a different fuel load but that was a fantastic moment nonetheless."
"It's incredibly moving to race in front of my home crowd, especially with the sea of Union Jacks down the start-finish straight! Most importantly, this is a weekend when the whole team get to share in our achievements and I just hope that we have something special to celebrate with them on Sunday night."
"Obviously Suzuka is my own home race, but I now live in England and this is my second home. I want to do well in front of the team and its many British fans and I hope I have the car to deliver a good result next Sunday. The British Grand Prix is one of the most exciting in my opinion. I also have very fond memories of the circuit from my Junior and Formula 3 days, so I am always very excited to head back there."
"It's a shame that we had a slightly disappointing result at the French Grand Prix, however I am still confident from our performance in Indy. Historically, Silverstone is always an exciting race, especially with the unpredictable weather, so it could be very exciting"
Anthony Davidson, B*A*R's British Third Driver:
"We have been very quick at Silverstone in general testing this year and both Jenson and Taku topped the timesheets on the days when they ran here. From a personal perspective, this will be the best Friday I've ever had in terms of recognition and it will be great to get a share of the limelight with the British fans."
"I live just a few miles from Silverstone so I am very well acquainted with the changeable weather conditions we get here and which always make the British Grand Prix even more exciting! As always, I'll be doing my bit to get the team off to a good start on Friday."
David Richards, Team Principal:
"There is a great deal of expectation on our shoulders as we head into our home race this weekend. Silverstone is in our own backyard with Jenson currently the top British driver, I would anticipate that a large proportion of British F1 fans will be pinning their hopes on us this Sunday. Obviously it would be wonderful to achieve our maiden victory at our home track, but whatever the outcome, it will be a very special weekend."
"Very few of our staff ever get to go to a race and yet each and every one of them has been integral to the transformation in our performance this season. We have created plenty of opportunities for them to be part of the action this weekend and to see the benefits of their hard work at close quarters."
"The Regent Street event is a fantastic curtain-raiser for the Grand Prix and the opportunity to bring the fans even closer to the sport and their heroes. However, in the heat of the preparations, we cannot overlook the fact that the French Grand Prix was a disappointment for us and we will be doing everything possible in the days ahead to ensure we are fully on top of any factors which have compromised us. All in all, it will be a very exciting weekend ahead!"
Geoffrey Willis, Technical Director:
"In Magny-Cours we did not achieve either our full performance potential or reliability and both areas need addressing in the short run up to the British Grand Prix and beyond. The Silverstone circuit requires a harder tyre solution than normal to cope with the very high speed corners and loadings they induce. The harder compounds reduce degradation but this has to be balanced against losing too much grip for the slower speed areas at Club and in the complex."
"The nature of the corners also requires a car that can be stable under high speed changes of direction without generating lower speed understeer or poor traction. We were able to use the Silverstone test in early June to work on the tyre choices with Michelin and investigate set-up solutions suited to the track. So going into our home race we are confident of fighting for a good result."
Shuhei Nakamoto, Engineering Director, Honda Racing Development:
"We had a tough weekend in France and we will of course be working very hard to get back into our podium scoring form. The British Grand Prix is a very important race for us - we always enjoy competing on home ground and it'll be great to race in front of the local fans and many of our staff."