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Exclusive Q&A - Honda's Nick Fry 09 May 2006

Nick Fry (GBR) Honda Racing F1 Team Chief Executive Officer.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Sepang, Malaysia, 18 March 2006

Honda have had their share of bad luck so far this season. Despite two A-list drivers at the wheel, the results look rather modest. With 13 points in Jenson Button’s account and six in that of Rubens Barrichello, the team lie fourth in the constructors’ championship standings. Nevertheless, Honda Racing’s CEO, Nick Fry, insists the team’s spirit is unbroken…

Q: Is there more pressure to succeed at Honda now that you are a manufacturer team - with a direct link between your performance and how the company’s products are perceived?
Nick Fry:
There is not much difference, as most of the pressure comes from within the team. Honda is a company which has been in motor racing from the start. They understand what motor racing is all about, and that at this level it needs time to succeed. We want to win and that’s what it’s all about.

Q: Are there any cultural differences between Honda Japan and Honda Brackley? Consensus finding in Formula One racing is presumably slightly different to the traditional Japanese way…
The answer is obviously yes, but no more than you would expect. I have personally worked with a lot Japanese companies, for example Mazda and Subaru. Most of the staff in the team have been working a minimum of four years with Honda. We understand each other very well, there are different ways in doing things but we think in the same way. And in some way, having two points of views is an advantage, as you see things from different perspectives.

Q: You said recently that you will 'earn your money'. How?
When the team is successful it is easy. On the opposite, it is difficult to stay up on days when things go badly, as you have to keep everyone motivated. You have to have facts and a plan to speak out and you will have everyone’s belief. It is like in any other industry - the management skills at the top have to be convincing.

Q: What are the crucial points at the moment? The car? Communication? Human error?
Human errors happen occasionally, it’s easy to make too much of that. It (the pit-lane problem at Imola) was a very unfortunate incident. The real issue for us, and most of the other teams, is making best use of the tyres. We proved that we can make the tyres work over one lap, so we can always qualify in the top group. The real trick and difficulty in F1 at the moment is making the tyres last over a longer distance. At the moment there is only one team with one driver who has it completely under control to have the Michelin tyres work over a longer distance and we just need to continue to work on this and there is no magic solution. We have to work hard, do a lot of testing, do lots of experiments.

Q: In Barrichello you have a driver from a former world championship winning team. Does that raise your standards?
It does. I think it always helps to have what I would call ‘fresh eyes’, because when a person, a driver or anybody else is in the same team for four or five years, you get used to things, to situations. With Rubens it’s a fantastic opportunity to gather new ideas, as he is extremely experienced. I still would say that the first six months when a new person joins a team are critical. You have to listen very carefully to what the person is saying and then you find out what the working style is.

Q: How will the season proceed for Honda? Any predictions?
My prediction is to see that Rubens is getting more settled in the team. The driving performances of Jenson and Rubens are very similar to each other - they will push each other. I am also pretty confident that we have all the right things in place, in terms of our education of how to use these tyres. We will use our new full-size wind tunnel, and will retrieve the first results very soon, which will help us progress.

Q: Any idea who will replace British American Tobacco next year as sponsor? Any wish list?
Well, yes. We have hired 19 Entertainment, and with them we are very confident to have chosen the right direction, as they have a total different perspective on how to do things. They are very familiar with the pop music world, as they are amongst the world leaders in the entertainment industry. I am pretty confident that people will see a totally different approach to motor racing sponsorship.