The Honda Racing F1 Team concluded 2006 with a strong 4th place in the Constructors' Championship and at the
launch they were keen to better that ranking in 2007.
Nick Fry, Chief Executive Officer "In Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello we have two of the most
competitive and experienced drivers on the Formula One grid who work together well and play a pivotal role in team leadership and car
Shuhei Nakamoto, Senior Technical Director said the team were “pleased with the initial performance
indications from the RA107. There is a great deal of on-track development work still to conduct before we embark on the racing season, however
positive signs from the car's testing debut provide the reassurance that we have taken a good direction.
"The RA107 is the result of ten months of design, development and manufacture which began almost as soon as the RA106 made
its race debut. It combines the efforts of our staff in Brackley and Bracknell with some longer-term projects which have been underway for some
time at Honda R&D in Tochigi.
"Engine development has been a challenge because of the homologation regulation. I am pleased with what we have achieved
in terms of usable torque and fuel efficiency whilst limiting the engine to 19, 000 rpm."
Jenson Button: “We enjoyed a strong second half to the season last year and of course our first win
together will always be special. This year we will hopefully make even greater strides towards our dream of winning the World Championship
together and I feel that as we enter our second year under full Honda ownership we have a realistic opportunity of moving closer to that
Rubens Barrichello: “I am impressed by how the car and the team have evolved during my first year here
and it is clear that the RA107 is a step in the right direction. The RA107's new steering and suspension geometry is better suited to the new
Bridgestone Potenza tyres, giving a good balance. The revised traction control system also makes it possible for us to get closer to maximising
the potential of the tyres”
Rubens continued, “I am now looking forward to the two weeks of testing in the hot weather of Bahrain
where we should get a better understanding of how we are progressing compared to the competition."
Jacky Eeckelaert - Engineering Director, "For the last European winter test this week, we had two RA107
cars on hand. Additionally we had a number of new parts to evaluate before we run our final package for the first race of the season in Bahrain
next week. Once again we focused on finding a good balance over the longer runs.”
Expect to see a great deal more of the Hondas in 2007 than we did in the early part of 2006 when things were
going very wrong with the car and the driver relationship with the as both Jenson and Rubens became
increasingly frustrated with the lack of speed and reliability of the car, their frank comments were deeply felt by senior Honda management who
have reacted quickly to improve things.
I expect a much more successful season for Honda with perhaps more podiums and even more wins for Jenson, he
knows time is moving on if he is to mount a serious title bid and not just become another great British who couldn’t deliver.
Toyota has probably spent more money on F1 than any other team in recent years yet has precious little to show for it so far.
Some say their management structure is too large, too corporate, for F1 which needs quick thinking and action.
Toyota is the only one of the 11 F1 teams to go into the new season with the same engine, the same tyre partner, and the same
two race drivers. The team hope that such a unique degree of continuity will enable them to hit the ground running and build on the experience
gained over recent seasons.
Toyota has ambitious goals in Formula 1 and in 2007 the objective is to win. “Our fundamental target this year is to get
the first victory, ” says Chairman and Team Principal Tsutomu Tomita.
“We announced that a year ago, but we failed to succeed in 2006. And therefore we want to repeat that challenge in 2007. I
know all the other teams are working very hard, particularly the top three. We have five years experience in F1, but still we are young in
comparison with the top teams, therefore we have to be modest about it. But we would like to challenge them.
“I’m very, very positive about this, and I personally think we should attack from round one. Therefore it’s very important
to conduct some productive testing during the winter to fully understand the car and the tyres.”
“The most important thing to achieve this season is the first victory for Toyota in Formula 1, ” he said. “We
want to be on the top step of the podium. We have improved in all areas, aerodynamics, suspension and gear change.”
“We have addressed reliability this year, ” said team boss Howett “And we have resolved issues
like the launch system, which we fixed at the end of last season, and which cost us dearly. We’re improving the car, flat out, all the time. So I
think we have the potential to win this year, and I’m disappointed that we didn’t deliver it in 2006.”
The new car “ pretty extensively changed in terms of basic lay-out, ” says Howett. “When
we went from the V10 to V8 the back of the engine effectively stayed in the same place, and the chassis and fuel tank filled the space where the
front two cylinders of the V10 were. Now we’ve moved to engine forward, and yet worked really hard to still have a big tank. The gearbox is
longer, and we will run a seamless shift for the first time.
“Aerodynamics is the big focus, and a lot of the chassis layout has been designed to give better aero opportunity. The
whole monocoque concept has been modified in terms of height and how it sits. Before it was quite a low car, now it’s higher. We have improved
the suspension, and we have some interesting developments in the pipeline that we hope will give us performance.”
In 2006 Toyota made the switch to Bridgestone tyres, giving it a head start in co-operating
as the Japanese company becomes the sole supplier this year. The experience gained in adapting to new tyres should benefit the team and help it
get the maximum out of the tyres available.
For 2007 Toyota retain Ralf Schumacher and Jarno Trulli, the former capable of wins
but only when everything is going right for him and the later perhaps nearing the end of his career, a charming man and capable driver who
probably hasn’t achieved all he could or should have done in F1 so far. They are joined by rising star Franck Montagny as
third driver extending Toyota’s run of French drivers.
Let’s hope Toyota gets its money’s worth out of all three in 2007 but, so far testing has been less than impressive.
Article © 2007 Graham Benge