Willis - Honda operating at highest level 25 Jan 2006
Honda technical director Geoff Willis is convinced the new RA106, launched in Barcelona on Wednesday, has race winning potential.
Willis believes the team have learnt their lessons from a disappointing 2005 campaign, their last as BAR, and are now in a position to draw on all their experience to secure that elusive first victory.
"The new RA106 is the product of four years of steady evolution, he said. During this time, the team has developed a high level of technical capability which now sees it designing, manufacturing and operating at the highest level on the grid. The emphasis now is on integration and combining our design concepts and expertise to achieve a car capable of challenging for race wins.
Having finished second in the 2004 constructors championship, much was expected of the team last year, but only in the latter part of the season did they start to get to grips with their 007 machine. Willis is confident the design of its successor will ensure no repeat performance.
"One of our key areas of focus has been aerodynamics, he said. The design considerations for this were two-fold - the aero problem that we faced in 2005 and achieving a significant improvement in aerodynamic efficiency to meet the requirements of the new, smaller V8 engine and its implications on chassis design.
We are pleased with the progress we have made in the wind tunnel over the winter and our data shows that we have made a good step forward. Mechanically, in keeping with the evolutionary theme we have refined our various concepts including our third generation carbon composite gearbox.
That gearbox will be mated to Hondas new RA806E V8 engine, which Willis is confident has what it takes to keep pace with the teams leading rivals.
"The new engine is the result of a very intensive year's work with many concepts designed and tested since the prototype first ran in May 2005, he said. Since the latest specification started running in November 2005, the team has been encouraged by its reliability and performance."