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Bar makes successful debut of 2004 car

February 4, 2004

Lucky Strike B嫂愛 Honda debuted its 2004 challenger, the B嫂愛 Honda 006, at the Circuit de Catalunya on Monday. Following its launch to the world's media on Sunday, Jenson Button has been putting the car through its paces for the last three days. Teammate Takuma Sato has been alongside Jenson in the '04 Concept car on each day.

On Monday and Tuesday mornings, some track time was lost due to extremely foggy weather. However, conditions other than that have been clear and sunny, and ideal for the team's testing purposes. Jenson has been focusing on optimizing the set-up of the B嫂愛 Honda 006 with Takuma concentrating on the Michelin tire development program.

Both drivers were given the opportunity to complete an all-out performance run this week to gauge the team's progress. On Monday, Jenson broke the lap record he set himself two weeks ago, by recording a time of 1:13.868 at the revised Barcelona circuit. However, on Tuesday, Takuma enjoyed a very positive morning, and completed a lap in which he improved on Jenson's time to take the record himself with a time of 1:13.797.

Over the three days, Jenson and Takuma have completed 373 laps, adding almost 1800 kilometres of testing to the intensive winter program, and over 770 important kilometres with the new B嫂愛 Honda 006. B嫂愛 will resume testing in Jerez next Tuesday for a three-day program incorporating Jenson, Takuma and Anthony Davidson.

Jenson Button
"I was extremely encouraged when I set the fastest lap time on the first day in the new car. It was a nice result for the whole team. To put that time in after only 10 laps was a boost for us for the rest of the week. Obviously this test was predominantly about familiarizing ourselves with the new car and doing long runs to concentrate on reliability, but we also continued work on our tire program.

Unfortunately, we had a few problems on the first two days of the test which limited our running time. We were disappointed that we didn't achieve all that we would've liked to in our test plan for those two days. Having said that, today was our best day. We completed 113 laps on two different types of tire programs. I think that the car as a whole performs very well, particularly over one lap. Today we had consistent long runs and the tires we used were promising as well. Now we need to focus on getting more mileage under our belts before the first race in Melbourne. The next few tests before the start of the season will be very important."

Takuma Sato
"This has been a very positive test for us. Personally, I have had a very successful tire test over the three days, and on Tuesday I had my first opportunity to do a performance run. It was good to see such a high performance with the '04 Concept car and I was very pleased with the result! Obviously it's a great feeling to record a fastest lap. The test has also been very pleasing as it was the last test with the Concept car and we were able to fully complete the planned winter program. I am now really looking forward to Jerez when I will get to drive the B嫂愛 Honda 006. We are all excited about the new car, which was very quick straight away."

Geoffrey Willis, Technical Director
"We are very pleased with the outcome of this test. The B嫂愛 Honda 006 is performing as we expected, and although we had some problems on the first two days, we finished off the test with a very strong day, completing over 500kms with the new car. Overall, the performance looks very good, but this is only our first test and it's important for us to get the most out of the car over the next three tests with both drivers. We are on target with our program for the new season.

We have now given both drivers the opportunity to try an absolute performance run on new tires in order to gauge our progress. Even though Jenson and Takuma's times are not directly comparable, it was an excellent lap from Takuma in the '04 Concept car. Takuma has further improved on the unofficial lap record and, once again, we have been able to show that we are making good progress in terms of performance."

Shuhei Nakamoto, Engineering Director, Honda Racing Development
"Overall we have had a very good test. Although we would have ideally liked to do a little bit more running, the problems we have had are not critical, and importantly, are not repeats of ones we have had in previous weeks. The atmosphere is very good in the team at the moment and we have enjoyed being at the top of the time sheets."

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