The European Grand Prix at the Nürburgring in Germany this week heralds the return of Lucky Strike BAR Honda to competition after a five-week absence from the racetrack. Waiting in the wings for the past two races has only sharpened its resolve and both team and drivers, with the full support of the shareholders and team partners, will be back with a vengeance, eager to make the most of the latest developments to the BAR Honda 007.
Another solid test at Paul Ricard recently underlined the relentless effort made by everyone at the Team Operations Centre in Brackley and back in Japan at Tochigi. The team made good use of the past few weeks to put a further series of tyre, brake, engine and aerodynamic developments through their paces, culminating in another fastest lap time for Takuma Sato on the final day of running. Such has been the pace of development that the team believes it can certainly top up its trophy cabinet in Germany and start challenging for wins.
Both Jenson and Takuma revel in the challenge of the Nürburgring circuit which has the full mix of very slow through to high-speed corners, from the revised turn 1, hairpin and chicane, to the double medium-speed 'S' bends and the very high speed 'S' after the hairpin. It also features a lot of undulation change, which is unusual for most 'modern' circuits.
Jenson Button: "It goes without saying how much we racing drivers look forward to our next Grand Prix, but it's been five weeks since I last raced at Imola and I'm very excited about getting back in the car this weekend. The whole team is incredibly upbeat and determined. I've been so impressed with the way they've handled this situation and I can't wait to see what we can achieve at the Nürburgring.
"The most frustrating thing about the past few weeks has been knowing that we have a strong car with some very impressive new developments just sitting in the factory when we could have been out there challenging for podiums, if not wins. That's behind us now though. What matters is going forward and demonstrating why we belong at the top.
"I finished on the podium here last year in 3rd position and I know we can be stronger than that this time. I enjoy racing here at the best of times and the track has some great high-speed corners and interesting undulations. The car will be strong here, no question. I'm just counting down the hours now until free practice on Friday!"
Takuma Sato: "I'm very excited to make our return to racing again at the Nürburgring after the past few difficult weeks. I'm confident of our performance there because we have developed a very strong car in the recent tests and the team has done a fantastic job in the circumstances. In fact, development has been non-stop at the factory and on the test track, and everyone in the team is very determined and motivated. It will be exciting for all of us to see what the car is capable of.
"I really enjoy racing at this circuit; it has some interesting track characteristics, particularly a lot of undulation which make it a lot of fun to drive. It's a good place to make our comeback. We had a strong race here last year and I'm looking forward to a good performance on Sunday."
Gil de Ferran: "We have spent the last few weeks waiting somewhat impatiently for this weekend and, although we would rather have been racing, all efforts went into turning this hiatus into an opportunity for the team to improve its performance. We continued testing and are confident of a good showing at the Nürburgring, just as we were heading into Barcelona. Since we last raced in Imola there have been several enhancements to our aerodynamic performance, which bode well for the coming races. As we haven't had the opportunity to measure up against the competition, we look forward to doing so at the Nürburgring."
Shuhei Nakamoto: "We have made good use of the past few weeks to develop the engine for the next round of long-haul races. This weekend we are just looking forward to getting into race action after missing two Grands Prix."