Brawn on the RA108: a wholly different concept 29 Jan 2008
Unlike many of their rivals, it seems that Honda have gone for revolution rather than evolution with the design of their 2008 machine - and given the poor performance of the RA108s predecessor, that is perhaps not surprising.
However, the change also follows a major revamp of the teams technical line-up, including the arrival of new team principal Ross Brawn. As the wraps came off the new car and its race livery in Brackley on Tuesday, Brawn discussed the background to its design and development:
"The RA108 car is a wholly different concept to its predecessors, in terms of its aerodynamic layout and mechanical structure. The design philosophy has been developed to allow greater scope for aerodynamic packaging and exploitation, particularly to facilitate the introduction of performance upgrades through the season.
"The focus has been on attaining a high level of aerodynamic efficiency with stability and this is reflected in the way that the chassis has been revised to interact with the different aerodynamic features and the suspension. This approach should allow more potential for further developments to take place, the first of which will be for Melbourne when we will introduce a substantially revised aerodynamic package compared with the car we have launched today.
"The Honda RA808E engine is subject to the FIA engine homologation regulations and therefore the vast majority of engine components remain unchanged. The exhaust geometry and air box have changed to suit the RA108 aerodynamic package. An additional development is the FIA requirement that the fuel mix should now contain 5.75 percent biofuel - an initiative that Honda fully supports.
"Two of the most significant regulation changes are in the areas of electronics and gearbox. The implementation of an FIA standard electronic control unit and software has meant hard work during the winter tests to integrate the new system with the RA108's engine, gearbox and chassis systems. With traction control and other driver aids removed from the car there will be a greater emphasis on driver skill.
"The RA108 carbon composite gearbox has been designed to meet the new regulations which require each gearbox to complete four Grands Prix. We have conducted extensive running on a test bed to optimise the gearbox design and ensure that we can be confident of meeting the levels of reliability required.
"The design of the RA108 ensures that all key areas comply with the FIA safety regulations and crash test requirements for the impact structures, such as the nose, monocoque and rear impact structure. We have also increased the protection for the driver around the headrest area."
"Our target for 2008 is to get back to the position occupied during the second half of the 2006 season when Honda fought for points at every race. Only then will we have a stable base from which to target more ambitious results.
"Since joining Honda my focus has been on evaluating the resources and practices of the operation and understanding how we can progress. I commend the entire team on the effort and commitment they have shown after a disappointing 2007. We will have to wait and see how much of a performance step has been achieved with this car, but in terms of people and resources, all the right ingredients are in place with which to move the Honda Racing F1 Team forward in pursuit of its racing ambitions."