Honda Racing rolled out its 2007 entry, the RA107 in Spain, yesterday, giving drivers Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello a chance to pre-flog their hopeful sled. It's the second season since Honda bought out BAR to become sole owner of the team, which had a poky 2006 season despite a major comeback at The Hungarian Grand Prix at Hungaroring, which Button won. Will major Honda bux kick the team upstairs, such that they can parlay the second half of 2006 into a strong 2007? Seriously, I'm asking.
Honda Racing F1 Team unveils new RA107
Following a successful debut for the Honda Racing F1 Team's new RA107 race car on the Circuit de Catalunya near Barcelona yesterday, the team's management and drivers today provided a technical insight into the car and their first impressions of the new challenger from the track.
With the RA107 sporting its black and white testing colours in preparation for a reveal of the new team livery next month, the focus was on the development of both team and car since the Honda Racing F1 Team concluded 2006 with a strong 4th place in the Constructors' Championship. As the team put the new car through its paces, the team's management, together with race drivers Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello, spoke of their intent to strive for even greater success in 2007.
Nick Fry, Chief Executive Officer
"We are proud to present the product of a year's excellent co-operation between Honda facilities in the UK and Japan. Although the different engineering groups have worked closely for several years, the RA107 is a true international team effort involving hour by hour communication, strong team work and great team spirit across the globe. This year we aim to build on the latter part of the 2006 season and successful pre-Christmas testing, during which we completed more testing than any other team. We intend to benefit from continuity of drivers and key personnel, combined with performance improvement designed into the new RA107 using our full-scale wind tunnel which was completed last season, to move closer to realising our World Championship ambitions.
"In Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello we have two of the most competitive and experienced drivers on the Formula One grid who work together well and play a pivotal role in team leadership and car development. Supporting them are Christian Klien and James Rossiter, who have made an impressive start to winter testing, completing important development mileage and demonstrating a promising blend of speed, youth and driving experience."
Shuhei Nakamoto, Senior Technical Director
"We were pleased with the initial performance indications from our first full day of testing with the RA107. There is a great deal of on-track development work to conduct before we embark on the racing season, however positive signs from the car's testing debut provide the reassurance that we have taken a good direction.
"The RA107 is the result of ten months of design, development and manufacture which began almost as soon as the RA106 made its race debut. It combines the efforts of our staff in Brackley and Bracknell with some longer-term projects which have been underway for some time at Honda R&D in Tochigi.
"The main design challenge has been achieving improved aerodynamic efficiency whilst accommodating tough new safety regulations specific to the car's crash structures. I am pleased that we have been able to achieve this objective at the same time as reducing the overall weight of the car. The RA107 also boasts some innovative packaging solutions, particularly around the exhaust and radiators, which allow for much tighter bodywork within what is generally a nicely integrated aerodynamic design package.
"In addition, we are pleased with the way we are developing our understanding of the Bridgestone Potenza tyres and our progress in this area has been due to a combination of the simulation work conducted at our Brackley headquarters and an extremely productive pre-Christmas testing programme which saw our team achieve more mileage than our competitors.
"Engine development has been no less of a challenge because of the homologation regulation. I am pleased with what we have achieved in terms of usable torque and fuel efficiency whilst limiting the engine to 19,000 rpm.
"We now look forward to the next challenge of optimising the RA107 for the first race in Melbourne on 18 March, with a comprehensive pre-season development programme."
"I am looking forward to driving the RA107 for the first time later today, when I will be able to see the result of many months of hard work in Japan and England between both our team and drivers.
"I drove the RA106 here yesterday using the new Bridgestone Potenza tyres for the first time. Today's run will give me the benefit of a direct comparison between the two chassis. Although I have been out of the car for a while, I am very pleased with my return to the cockpit and also my fitness level, which I have been working hard on since Christmas.
"We enjoyed a strong second half to the season last year and of course our first win together will always be special. This year we will hopefully make even greater strides towards our dream of winning the World Championship together and I feel that as we enter our second year under full Honda ownership we have a realistic opportunity of moving closer to that objective. There is a great deal of work to be done between now and Australia."
"We had an encouraging first day of running with the new RA107 here in Barcelona yesterday and my first impressions were good ones. I am impressed by how the car and the team have evolved during my first year here and it is clear that the RA107 is a step in the right direction.
"The RA107's new steering and suspension geometry is better suited to the new Bridgestone Potenza tyres, giving a good balance. The revised traction control system also makes it possible for us to get closer to maximising the potential of the tyres.
"I feel confident about the season ahead because I know the importance of a stable team of key staff and drivers. It's great that we have that advantage. I also know just how much work has gone into this car throughout the whole Honda Racing F1 Team organisation and I believe that kind of effort will move us closer to achieving our Championship ambitions. I know that 2007 can be special so I am looking forward to the start of the season."