German GP: Honda preview

Honda arrives at Hockenheim for the 2002 German Grand Prix with an interesting challenge ahead as the Japanese manufacturer and its partner teams, Lucky Strike B.A.R Honda and DHL Jordan Honda, in common with all other teams, tackle the new ...

Honda arrives at Hockenheim for the 2002 German Grand Prix with an interesting challenge ahead as the Japanese manufacturer and its partner teams, Lucky Strike B.A.R Honda and DHL Jordan Honda, in common with all other teams, tackle the new Hockenheimring circuit for the first time. Gone are the renowned long high-speed straights that characterised the famous track which cut through the forests, replaced with a revised layout that incorporates the famous 'stadium' section, including the pits straight and first corner. The new circuit begins with a right-hand corner near to where the first chicane of the previous Hockenheim used to be.

Some of the high-speed nature of the old track is retained with a new straight that features a progressive curve to the left before arriving at a right-hand hairpin, where the F1 cars will undergo heavy braking from an expected speed of approximately 310kph down to 40kph. Rejoining what was known as the back straight, the new circuit enters a new complex of medium speed right-left-right corners before accelerating to a predicted 270kph and bursting into the stadium complex in time-honoured fashion.

Honda and its partner teams, together with the rest of the F1 grid, will not have tested on the new circuit before the cars roll out of the pits for the first session of Friday practice and so approach this year's German Grand Prix, 'semi-blind'. Preparations for the race weekend will have been a combination of examining existing data from previous races and educated guesswork, assisted by computer simulation.

For Honda the challenge will be in finding the optimum engine maps for qualifying and the race, as well as providing the teams with baseline engine settings right from the first session of free practice to enable them to carry out the schedules of set-up work and tyre assessment in the precious two hours of running time on Friday. Some of the corners share similarities with those of the other 16 circuits the Formula One World Championship visits, allowing Honda to draw on its vast archive of data to provide an engine set-up configuration to suit the new circuit layout. In addition, computer simulation on the advanced dynamometers both at Honda's Tochigi R&D centre near Tokyo and at Honda Racing Development at Bracknell in the UK has refined the range of engine maps available for use.

As is the case at every Grand Prix, the Honda engineers and technicians will be honing their programmes in the Honda engine trucks to provide as accurate and efficient an engine set-up as possible for qualifying and the race. With one truck supporting each of the Honda partner teams, an enormous amount of data is exchanged with both Bracknell and Tochigi, which is invaluable for the factory-based Honda engineers to analyse and draw upon for present and future engine development programmes.

Shuhei Nakamoto Race and Test Team Manager, Honda Racing Development

"We had a tough weekend in France but that only motivates us to fight harder. The German Grand Prix is obviously going to be a challenge, particularly for all the drivers getting to know the new circuit, but we are really looking forward to seeing how the engine performs at Hockenheim and hope the Honda-powered drivers have a more productive weekend."

-honda-

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Shuhei Nakamoto
Teams Jordan