Jenson Button embarked on his long-awaited first test with Lucky Strike B.A.R Honda today at the Circuito de Jerez in Spain. This was Jenson's first opportunity to spend some time trackside with his new team and joining him for his testing debut...
Jenson Button embarked on his long-awaited first test with Lucky Strike B.A.R Honda today at the Circuito de Jerez in Spain. This was Jenson's first opportunity to spend some time trackside with his new team and joining him for his testing debut was team-mate Jacques Villeneuve.
Jenson is on track for days 1 and 2 of this 3-day test and his focus will be tyre testing for Bridgestone, an engine programme for Honda and generally getting to know his engineers and mechanics.
At the wheel of this year's BAR Honda 004, Jenson left the garage for his first installation lap as soon as the track opened and he was on the pace from the off. He completed 52 laps and set a best time of 1:22.536 before an engine problem struck midway into the afternoon session, bringing his day's running to a close. Although disappointed to have lost track time and the chance of a faster lap, he was buoyant following an otherwise productive inaugural day.
Speaking at the end of today's session, B.A.R's new driver said: "I've had a good first day with the team. I was driving this year's car so, although I didn't get a taste of what I can expect next year, it felt well-balanced and good to drive. We did some good work this morning so it's a shame that we couldn't continue improving but today wasn't about how quick I am, it was about getting to grips with everything. I've settled in well and I feel part of the team already. I'm looking forward to another good day tomorrow."
Jacques Villeneuve enjoyed a trouble-free one-day programme, in which he completed 68 laps and set a best time of 1:22.143. He commented: "We had a good day today working mainly with Honda. We got plenty of laps in and everything was working well so it's good to leave my last 2002 test on a positive note."
Shuhei Nakamoto, Race and Test Team Manager, said: "Jenson did a good job on his first day with a car, engine and tyres that are new to him. He is very responsive with his feedback and a pleasure to work with. We are looking forward to the first test of the new engine and chassis in the New Year."
Anthony Davidson will take over the reins of Jacques' car tomorrow for the duration of the test. Day 3 (Sunday) will see Kosuke Matsuura, runner-up in the 2002 German Formula 3 Championship, getting his first taste of Formula One courtesy of B.A.R in recognition of his achievements this year.