Like all the participants, less than a week since the chequered flag signalled the finish of the European Grand Prix at the Nurburgring, Honda's F1 operation is back in action at Magny Cours in central France supporting its two partner teams,...
Like all the participants, less than a week since the chequered flag signalled the finish of the European Grand Prix at the Nurburgring, Honda's F1 operation is back in action at Magny Cours in central France supporting its two partner teams, Lucky Strike BAR Honda and Benson and Hedges Jordan Honda. Both teams remain closely matched in the Constructors' World Championship, separated by just a single point, and after a torrid race at the Nurburgring are seeking to advance their positions at this, the start of the second half of the season.
Honda engineers are expecting the hot and humid weather conditions normally associated with the French circuit at the beginning of July throughout the three days of running. While their preparations will focus on optimising the RA001E engine's performance under these ambient conditions, it has been known for Magny-Cours to experience a heavy downpour, such as that during the 1999 race.
Fundamentally in engine terms the 4.25-kilometre circuit is an 'in-between', a balance of calls on an engine to operate throughout its performance range. A mixture of high-speed and low-speed corners and long straights mean that both power and driveability are put to the test.
In its long Formula One career, Honda has competed in a total of 12 French Grands Prix at no fewer than five different circuits. Honda's first French win came at Ricard in 1986 courtesy of Nigel Mansell, who repeated the feat the following year in his Williams-Honda. A Honda hat-trick was completed by Alain Prost's McLaren in 1988 and the Frenchman won his home event again the following year, again with Honda power. When the race moved to Magny-Cours in 1991, Ayrton Senna delivered his third 'Powered by Honda' podium finish, but neither McLaren-Honda completed the race in 1992.