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Australian GP: BAR preview

Date 2005-02-25

The 2005 FIA Formula One World Championship, which gets underway next week at the Albert Park street circuit in Melbourne, Australia, presents an exciting new technical challenge for the Lucky Strike B*A*R Honda team.

After an intensive winter testing programme incorporating chassis and engine development, reliability work, and getting to grips with the new tyre compounds from Michelin, the team is eagerly anticipating the first race. The test schedule was the culmination of four months of hard work at the uk-based factory and on test tracks in Spain and the uk where the team completed almost 28,000 testing kilometres, an increase of 25% for the same period last year.

The team is encouraged by the testing performance of the B*A*R Honda 007 and look forward to the 'acid test' in Melbourne, where all of the teams will get their first real indication of the performance in race weekend conditions.

Albert Park is a high downforce circuit, and one that is very popular with the drivers. The 5.303km track features a mixture of short straights and slow to medium speed corners, and requires the car set-up to have a balance of good traction and stability under braking, as well as being aerodynamically efficient. Teams face the problem of a green, dusty and leafy track during Friday and changing surface conditions over the race weekend.

Jenson Button:

"The season has come around so quickly but it's great to be heading to Melbourne again. Personally I can't wait to get stuck into what will be a challenging and exciting year for myself and the team. Our success last season is a tough act for us to follow but we have made good progress over the winter and the past couple of tests in particular have given us a much better idea of the car's real potential."

"It will be very interesting to see how the new regulations pan out on the race track and the new qualifying format is going to be more mentally challenging for all of the drivers. I'm the fittest I have ever been though and have worked really hard over the close season to make sure i go into this season with the best preparation possible."

"Melbourne is a great place to kick off the season - a great track and a great city. I started my run of podiums in Malaysia last year so my main objective next weekend is to be as strong as possible from the start. Only after the first race will we have a real understanding of where we are in comparison to our competition."

Takuma Sato:

"It is amazing that we are here again, at the start of another season. The winter testing period has gone by so quickly and it is great to be going to Melbourne where the fans are really enthusiastic and the atmosphere is perfect for a season opener."

"Personally, I am very excited to go into my third F1 season and it is also the first time that I am continuing to drive for the same team, which makes it very special. The first race will be extremely tough for everyone as they get used to the new regulations, but that only excites us more! We feel that we could still be a big challenge to the other teams this year."

Geoffrey Willis, Technical Director:

"After a challenging pre season testing programme, made more complex by circuit changes and poor weather on top of the usual testing issues, it's a relief to be off to Melbourne 4 the start of the season. While all the teams have now run under the full 2005 regulations, at Melbourne we will have our first opportunity to truly see the relative performance of the cars."

"Despite a number of problems during testing we are happy with the fundamental performance of the B*A*R Honda 007 but like many others would have preferred a bit more preparation time to feel more confident. Our objective in 2005 is to win races and as last year we will travel to every circuit aiming to be on the podium."

Shuhei Nakamoto, Engineering Director, Honda Racing Development:

"After the long winter testing season, we're looking forward to finally getting down to the real action, and will be doing our best to build on the progress we made last year."
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