The Honda Racing F1 Team returned to the test track this week following the first three races of the 2008 Formula One season.
With the majority of teams in action at the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona, this week's four-day test has allowed Honda to prepare for the next race on the calendar, the Spanish Grand Prix, which takes place next weekend. The team's Test and Reserve Driver Alex Wurz began the programme on Monday, with Rubens Barrichello taking over the RA108 for Tuesday andWednesday, and Jenson Button concluding the running on Thursday.
Alex's focus on Monday was a Bridgestone 'slick' tyre evaluation as development work continues to prepare for their return in 2009. He also completed some valuable set-up work with the current RA108 car, covering 75 laps over the day.
Tuesday saw Rubens Barrichello at the wheel of the RA108 with the programme focused on the evaluation of development parts, along with further running of the 2009 tyres. Rubens completed 79 laps, setting the overall fastest time of the day whilst running on slicks towards the end of the afternoon.
Rubens was in action again on Wednesday and spent the morning continuing the aerodynamic and set-up evaluations, followed by a further programme using the slick tyres. With the full test programme successfully completed, Rubens' final lap tally was an impressive 140 laps around the demanding Barcelona circuit.
Jenson joined the team on Thursday for the final day of the test. Unfortunately the day was continuously interrupted by heavy rain showers which drenched the track, restricting Jenson to a single installation lap in the morning and only limited running on wet tyres for a further 41 laps in the afternoon.
Rubens Barrichello"We had a very busy and successful test this week. On Wednesday, I had agood day evaluating the slick tyres and we were able to make someimprovements to our set-up. It was nice to finish at the top of thetimesheet, although it does not have too great a significance when only halfof the field were running slicks. We ran our new aero upgrade for the firsttime and I'm encouraged by the performance. I felt a definite improvement,although the windy conditions made it difficult to quantify how much. Wecovered some good mileage and a lot of test items, particularly on Thursdaywhen I completed 140 laps. Overall I have good reason to be positive for theSpanish Grand Prix and I hope that we can get into the points there."
Jenson Button"It's unfortunate that my day in the car this week coincided with the badweather that we have experienced today. I was only able to complete42 laps, mostly on wet tyres, and could not really gather any informationfrom those laps. Thankfully the team had three good days of testing earlierin the week so we are well prepared for the race weekend."
Alex Wurz"It was good to be back in the car after closely following the progress thatthe team has made over the first three races of the season. My day wasfocused on set-up work with the 2008 car and running the slick tyres toevaluate the basic set-up and design requirements. In addition we continuedour ongoing work on engine driveability with the new electronics system."
Steve Clark"This week saw the first in-season test of 2008 where we can only use asingle car compared to the two car pre-season tests. The development of theRA108 is progressing well and we had many items on the test agenda.Our major development is an aerodynamic update kit which successfullydelivered a laptime improvement, however we will not know until the SpanishGrand Prix whether this translates into a significant step forward versusour competitors. In addition to developing the current car, we have beenworking with Bridgestone on the 2009 tyres. Running here in warmerconditions, we had no issues with warming the tyres up without blankets, andit is a pleasure to run a racing car on slicks again. We are looking forwardto the challenge of running the cars next year without tyre warmers andreduced downforce. It should be interesting."