Japan GP: Practice notes - Honda


The Honda Racing F1 Team began the on-track preparations for its home Grand Prix at the Fuji Speedway in Japan today with race drivers Rubens Barrichello and Jenson Button completing 143 laps of the 4.563km (2.835-mile) circuit.

After the persistent rain of last year's Japanese Grand Prix, the team was pleased to achieve some valuable dry running under sunny skies. The conditions gave the Honda drivers the opportunity to complete an extensive test programme and find the right aerodynamic balance between straightline speed and slow-speed grip required at this technically demanding racetrack.

Their best laps were separated by just 0.016s during the opening 1.5-hour session and placed them in 16th and 17th positions. Rubens was the faster of the two, completing five more laps than Jenson.

Lap times fell quickly in the afternoon as the grip levels increased. Both drivers improved their lap times significantly, with Rubens setting a best time of 1:19.258s which placed him 15th overall. Jenson was not able to achieve such a good balance on new tyres and finished the session 0.7s slower than his team-mate.

What were you able to achieve on the first day of running at Fuji?
Rubens Barrichello: "Just like last year, we have had a dry first day of practice and by the end of the afternoon we were able to achieve a reasonable balance with the car on new tyres. The weather forecast for the weekend looks interesting so we need to take a close look at that. However if it stays dry, then I believe we have a chance to progress to the second qualifying session."

What issues did you face in practice today?
Jenson Button: "We were able to make progress on the balance of the car on older tyres by the end of the afternoon session, however achieving a good balance was our main problem throughout the day. On new tyres at the end of the second session, I just had very little grip and it felt like the tyres were graining immediately. We will have to look at the reasons for this ahead of qualifying tomorrow."

Sum up the first free practice sessions at the Fuji Speedway today?
Steve Clark, Head of Race & Test Engineering: "Our focus for today was an evaluation of downforce levels and set-up with the RA108 in addition to gathering information on the tyres. We have had two productive sessions to prepare for the race, although our position on the timesheets does not necessarily reflect the level of good work that we have achieved."

What does the rest of the weekend hold?
SC: "The weather forecast is for rain overnight so we expect to tomorrow morning's final practice session will take place on a damp or wet track. It should then remain dry for the rest of the weekend. Whilst tomorrow will provide a clearer indication of our performance level, we are fully aware that our car is not well suited to this circuit and our focus will be on achieving the maximum from the package that we have."

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    Published: 10/10/2008
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