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Positive start for new Honda 29 Jan 2007

Jenson Button (GBR) Honda RA107. Formula One Testing, Day Two, Barcelona, Spain. 26 January 2007. World © Moy/Sutton Honda RA07 front wing. Honda RA107 Launch and First Run. 25 January 2007 Barcelona, Spain. World © Moy/Sutton Christian Klien (AUT) Honda RA106 Formula One Testing, Day Two, Barcelona, Spain, 26 January 2007. World © Hartley/Sutton Rubens Barrichello (BRA) Honda RA107. Formula One Testing, Barcelona, Spain, Thursday 25 January 2007. World © Moy/Sutton Honda RA107 is pushed back to the pits. Formula One Testing, Day Two, Barcelona, Spain, 26 January 2007. World © Hartley/Sutton

Barrichello and Button upbeat after RA107 outings

Honda are feeling confident for the season ahead after the team’s 2007 challenger, the RA107, passed its first test with flying colours. The new car completed 178 laps, some 823 kilometres, at Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya last week during the Japanese team’s three-day session.

After a brief shakedown run at Silverstone on Monday, the RA107 headed to Spain. Race driver Rubens Barrichello completed a private run on Wednesday, before taking charge of the new car during its official launch in front of the media on Thursday. In total the Brazilian covered 92 laps in the new car, clocking a fastest time of 1m 23.030s.

"It's been an exciting test for us this week and I'm glad to have had the chance to drive the new RA107 car,” said Barrichello. “The whole team has done a great job and the car is already on the same pace as last year's car, despite not having all of its development parts yet. There is a lot of work to do to get us ready for the start of the season, but from my laps this week, I really enjoyed the feeling of the car."

The Brazilian’s team mate, Jenson Button, was also in attendance, although his initial run on Thursday was interrupted by a minor problem which saw him stop out on track. Button made it back out on Friday and completed 86 laps, the British driver’s best time a 1m 23.16s.

"It's been a very productive day which was really about running through all the simple things with the car such as basic set-up changes and getting the balance to my liking,” commented Button. “We achieved that pretty early on which is positive and it enabled us to cover a good number of laps. So for one day in the car, it was productive, but it is just the beginning."

After carrying out all the basic systems check for the new car, Button and Barrichello managed to undertake a programme of engine cooling evaluations, ahead of February’s hot-weather tests in Bahrain.

“The RA107 programme this week focused on the standard control runs that you have to undertake with any new car,” explained Jacky Eeckelaert, Honda’s engineering director. “We also checked the cooling and oil systems for both the engine and the gearbox to ensure that everything is working correctly. The aero data collected from the RA107 this week shows a very good correlation with the model data from the wind tunnel so we are pleased with that.”

The team also ran last year’s car, the RA106, for the three days, with Button in charge on Wednesday and new tester Christian Klien behind the wheel on Thursday and Friday. The old car, which will reach the end of its test programme in a few weeks, was used to evaluate the new Bridgestone tyres and some electronic controls settings.

Honda will stay in Spain this week to continue testing at Valencia.