Normal day for Honda

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Practice for Sunday’s Turkish Grand Prix kicked off under cloudy skies at Istanbul Park today. The air and track temperatures peaked at just 14 and 20 degrees respectively, making today’s running the coldest at a grand prix so far this year.

The Honda Racing F1 Team worked through a detailed set-up programme with both of its RA108s, honing the car’s aerodynamic package to the demands of the 5.338km (3.317-mile) track. They ran reliably throughout the two 1.5-hour sessions, providing Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello with a good baseline from which to progress throughout the remainder of the race weekend.

In session one, the cars finished comfortably inside the top 10. Jenson completed 12 laps en route to the fifth fastest time, while Rubens did 11 laps to end the session 0.1s slower than his team-mate in eighth place.

Some light rain over lunchtime resulted in damp conditions at the start of session two, but a dry line quickly appeared and the drivers were able to continue their preparations for qualifying and the race. Jenson completed 28 laps in this session and his best time of 1:28.826s placed him 11th overall, while Rubens finished 15th on the timesheets after doing 22 laps, with a best of 1:29.024s.

The drivers had opposite reports on how today’s sessions went, with Button saying Practice 2 was an improvement over Practice 1, and vice versa.

“We made a lot of changes to the car after this morning when I was struggling with a lack of grip on initial turn in which you really need around here,” said the Brit. “This afternoon was much better right from the start of the session. We tried a lot of different things on the set-up and I’m confident that we know which direction to take for the rest of the weekend.”

Barrichello's day went slightly differently: “The car was nicely balanced in the morning and we were pleased with our progress. However, we made a mechanical change over lunch which changed the balance. It was too big a change to go back in the time available so we have some work to do overnight to understand what has changed. We should be able to get the car back to how it felt this morning, then I believe we have a good chance of getting through to Q3 tomorrow.”

Rubens is hoping to mark his record-breaking 257th Grand Prix with a good result, but how big a deal is it for the veteran? “Well most importantly, when I’m in the car, it’s a normal weekend for me. It’s fantastic to have the celebrations here, with all my family and the team, but on the track nothing changes. When I began my career back in 1993, I never thought that I would break this record, but now it really means a great deal to me.”

The Honda Racing F1 Team’s drivers and engineers will now analyse the data gathered today in their efforts to improve further the set-ups of the RA108s, prior to tomorrow’s qualifying session.