BAR Honda plans to make amends for its disappointing start to the F1 season at Imola next weekend. The team’s cars and drivers set a blistering pace at Paul Ricard this week. But has the Brackley-based outfit solved its reliability issues?
BAR Honda plans to make amends for its disappointing start to the F1 season at Imola next weekend. The team’s cars and drivers set a blistering pace at Paul Ricard this week. But has the Brackley-based oputfit solved its reliability issues?
Jenson Button and Takuma Sato completed an intensive two-day, two-car test at the French circuit on Thursday. Following last week's Barcelona test in which the Briton broke the lap record, Sato and Button ended their session at the top of the timesheets in first and second places. In fact, the Japanese driver set a new unofficial lap record for Paul Ricard.
The team evaluated new aerodynamic upgrades in preparation for San Marino, and noted that the 007s had been “very reliable”. With all its testing completed a day ahead of schedule, BAR Honda took the decision to save a day from its 30-day testing allocation.
“We got through quite a lot and the car has been responding well. We mainly focused on long performance runs and tyre testing and the progress we have shown is encouraging. I am very much looking forward to racing in Imola next week," said Button.
“We (were) mainly looking at aerodynamic, engine and tyre developments and made good progress. Many teams will also improve but we are confident that we have made a good step forward and I'm feeling very positive about the performance of the car,” Sato added.
BAR Honda chief test engineer Mark Ellis: "The excellent reliability of the car enabled us to complete our whole test programme in two days. We completed almost 6 000 km of testing and look forward to testing in Mugello in two weeks’ time, where we will debut further performance parts."
Although McLaren-Mercedes star Juan-Pablo Montoya was recovering from his shoulder injury and expected to return to the cockpit at Imola, an injury scare now looms over the Grove-based Williams-BMW team.
Nick Heidfeld had to end his Paul Ricard test early after hurting his back muscles while testing the FW27 at the French circuit. The German returned to the pits complaining of back pain, set off when he corrected the car at the first corner. After an examination by a specialist he was sent home to recover ahead of next week's grand prix.
Heidfeld's misfortune comes a week after team-mate Mark Webber pulled out of the team's Barcelona test because the rib injury he’d been recovering from flared up again.
Meanwhile, F1’s governing body, the FIA, with unanimous agreement of all teams taking part in the championship, has made a change to Article 58b of the Formula 1 Sporting regulations concerning eligibility of drivers taking part in Friday practice prior to the grands prix.
As a result of this decision, Christian Klien, who competed in the first three grands prix of this season, will now be able to undertake third driver duties on grand prix Fridays, beginning with the San Marino Grand Prix, where Tonio Liuzzi will make his race début for Red Bull Racing.
Red Bull Racing sporting director Christian Horner said: “I’m delighted that all of the teams supported our request to the FIA to change the regulations regarding the third driver. It would have been hugely frustrating for Christian to be unable to drive a third car in Imola due to the fact that, at 22 years of age, he has driven more then six grands prix.
Klien added: “It’s great news! As a race driver it is difficult to sit on the sideline while your team-mates are driving, so it is very good that I can continue to drive and also help the team at the races”.
Original article from Car