Lucky Strike B•A•R Honda embarks on its intensive winter testing programme this week at the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona (25-27 November). B•A•R will introduce its ‘04 Concept car which has its own distinctive livery and is designed to help the team to evaluate new technologies - an interim step towards the new B•A•R Honda 006 it plans to launch in February in time for the curtain-raising Australian Grand Prix.
B•A•R’s new driver line-up of Jenson Button and Takuma Sato will team up for the first time since their impromptu pairing in the 2003 season finale, where their combined performances helped the team to 5th place in the Constructors’ Championship.
The team will run two cars during the three-day programme, for which the core objectives are: to evaluate the performance of its 2004 engine and rear-end package, to provide a preliminary assessment of reliability and to kick-start development work with new tyre supplier Michelin. Jenson will commence running at the wheel of the ’04 Concept car, whilst Takuma will work mainly with this year’s B•A•R Honda 005.
B•A•R Technical Director Geoffrey Willis is confident that the great strides made by the team in R&D over the last 12 months, coupled with a well-defined technical strategy for the year ahead, will start to pay immediate dividends once the winter testing season gets underway. He commented: “This week’s programme is essentially the start of our 2004 season. We have made significant advances for next year with both engine and transmission, and we are eager to start evaluating those with the benefit of our ‘04 Concept car. Another major technical development is of course our move to Michelin tyres and this week’s test will see us working with their engineers for the first time. We are embarking on a steep learning curve in order to reoptimise our car in light of this significant change, and to this end we are planning to conduct substantially more testing than we did prior to the 2003 season.
“Our success in the Japanese Grand Prix and resulting 5th place in the 2003 Constructors’ Championship has invigorated an already highly-motivated and very determined team. We go into the first test of the new period with a very clear vision of where we want to be next season and a well-structured path for how we are going to get there.”
Commenting on the start of the winter testing programme, Shuhei Nakamoto, Engineering Director for Honda Racing Development, said: "We are excited about seeing our new engine put through its paces on the track for the first time this week. It is lighter, more compact and has a lower centre of gravity than last season's unit, and we are looking forward to a productive winter testing season to lay the foundations for improved race results next year."