All eyes on Honda and BAR at Suzuka 07 Oct 2005
There is a real buzz surrounding BAR and Honda this weekend after the motor manufacturers disclosure that it has bought out British American Tobaccos 55 percent shareholding, Jenson Button faces his 99th Grand Prix start with still no sign of victory on the horizon. The 007 features a significant engine upgrade here for the 25 year-old, together with revised front suspension and aerodynamics.
The new engine is the best step forward weve had all year on power, Button said. And the new front suspension felt good last week. With the new aero that should all make a difference. I think we will be reasonably close to Renault this weekend. We wont get anywhere near McLaren, but they havent been that consistent this year so if you are able to fight for a podium finish you never know what can happen!
Elsewhere in the Suzuka paddock everybody is talking about the rumoured new, 11th, team to whom Honda will supposedly be supplying their V8 engines in 2006. As to the teams identity, original favourites Dome have now been discounted after founder Minoru Hayashi and technical director Akiyoshi Okuto issued firm denials yesterday. Speculation is now focussing on Super Aguri, the Japanese team headed by former Zakspeed, Larrousse and Footwork F1 racer Aguri Suzuki. Believe the rumours and Takuma Sato will be the lead driver, and may be joined by BAR tester Anthony Davidson (Sato's F3 team mate at Carlin Motorsport in 2001), who is also chasing drives with Williams, BMW and Jordan.
Meanwhile, Fernando Alonso says that though not a great deal has materially changed in his life since he won the world championship crown in Interlagos, he is looking forward to taking his chance of winning a seventh race of the season here in Suzuka.
Having been photographed shaking the hand of rival Kimi Raikkonen (with a blessing from Flavio Briatore), the Spaniard said: It is great, a dream come true and now I enjoy so much this week after Brazil. I did nothing specific but just enjoyed it and remembered all the moments in this 2005 season. I spent all week at home in Oxford and family and friends came, so I was quite busy.
To be honest, nothing has really changed. At Renault we did a good job this season and won the championship, but F1 is different every year so next year there will be new motivation to do it again with the new rules. Maybe we can fight for the title again, maybe not. Who knows.
In terms of performance I expect us to be similar to what we were in Sao Paulo. When the helmet is on and you close the visor you go for it and in Sao Paulo I tried to win. Maybe I was a little conservative in the end there, but it was no time to risk anything when Juan Pablo (Montoya) came by on the third lap. But I was driving hard all through that race and I will be doing the same thing again this weekend.
Renault, of course, like McLaren, have to temper themselves with the reminder that the constructors championship is yet to be settled and that any retirement for whatever reason will jeopardise that endeavour.