In sharp contrast to the visible upturn of sister team Super Aguri, Honda Racing itself was able to find back performance without making big changes to visible aerodynamic parts. Honda was doing pretty well at the beginning of the season with Button being on pole position at Australia. However, due to tyre and internal team problems, performance fell down while other teams kept improving. As Barrichello got the grips to the Honda, Button and the team on itself lost it completely. It quickly became obvious internal trouble were at the source. Chief designer Geoff Willis was sent home halfway through the season and was replaced at the pitwall by Jacky Eeckelaert. Honda mastered the problems by optimising for the Michelin tyres, improving reliability and the engine in such a dramatic way that the first win became truth. Even more, Honda was the most succesful team during the last part of 2006. Up to an even better 2007?
On an article I read recently (don\'t remember where, maybe here), an official of the team admited aerodynamics was their weakness, as their aerodynamic level was nowhere near Ferrari\'s or Renault\'s.
Furthermore, during the whole season, the Honda engine was from several source reported to be one of the more powerfull of the grid. Although I\'ve no knowlege about aero, it makes sense to my eyes, the RA-106 looking more primitive, square-shaped than most of their rival\'s packages (appart from Toyota, which had the most squary and dirt-looking aero).
I think the team has now a brand new, full scale wind tunnel, and is looking forward some serious aero developpement. When they\'ll catch up on the others in that domain, I think they\'ll definitly be a credible contender for titles, as their motorist ability has already proven it\'s worth.
At the beginning of the season the Honda/Button combination appeared to be a contender. But they never kept pace with development of Ferrari and Renault, to slowly slip back in credibility and standings. But the end of the season was entirely different.
For the last seven races of the season, Button finished in the points in each one, and was only second to Schumacher (who\'s drive at this period was considered the stuff of legends. Counting driver points scored for the last seven races, it comes out like this.
Schumacher 41 points. Button, 40. Alonso and Massa each 38. Fisi 26, with Kimi 22.
As well, Honda is probably the best advanced in engine development, they made a deliberate decision to move forward with the \'07 spec engine with a few races remaining in the \'06 season.
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