BAR Honda unveils new F1 car

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src=' ' class='caption'> Honda believe they can provide a credible challenge to the top three teams in Formula One with their all-new BAR Honda 006 car.

updated: February 25, 2007 10:05 IST
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Lucky Strike BAR Honda believe they can provide a credible challenge to the top three teams in Formula One with their all-new BAR Honda 006 car, launched on Sunday at Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya. The new model was also met with widescale approval by the media present at the track in Montmelo near Barcelona and team drivers Jenson Button, Takuma Sato and test driver Anthony Davidson. The success of last year's car was the result of a dramatic improvement in engineering standards, which enabled the team to move up from eighth to fifth place in the championship. The jump had marked them out as the season's most improved team, but the BAR Honda 006 represents a further step forward in design and build quality and the product of a more challenging and innovative approach. Last season, 24-year-old Englishman Jenson Button secured two fourth places and came ninth in the overall drivers' standings in the BAR 005. He has now been rewarded with the number one spot after consistently outperforming Jacques Villeneuve last year and he was very positive after testing the new car on Sunday. "We're still not completely sure about the new car. We've only done a few laps but it was promising. The main thing is it was very stable which is a good starting point for a new car," said Button. As the team boss watched testing on a trackside monitor, Button flew around the circuit in Montmelo. Then it was time for some more technical tinkering as he gave the team crew the lowdown on the performance of the new car. However, although he knows that every driver in Formula One wants to be the new Michael Schumacher, he is also aware that the 006 should provide him with a first podium place as BAR Honda look to improve in the constructors' championship. "As driver it really doesn't make much difference where you finish in the championship. Either seventh, fifth or third. You know you want to win you want to win the championship. So more often it is about the team, than for us I think. For us to be fourth in the championship would be good. A good step forward and also to be challenging the top three teams," he added. Button's team-mate Takuma Sato made an excellent, if somewhat impromptu, race debut for the team in Japan at the end of last season and he is looking forward to benefiting from his wealth of testing experience in his second full season of racing in F1. The 27-year-old from Tokyo felt immense pride when he was selected to drive for BAR Honda as he was following in the footsteps of one of his all-time heroes - a Brazilian legend who also placed his faith in Japanese-built engines. "I feel very proud to be honest because I graduated from the Honda racing school in 1997 and certainly I felt in the last two years working with them properly in Formula One is a very exciting thing. Especially as I was cheering in front of the TV when I was a little boy , when Honda dominated with (Ayrton) Senna in Formula One and everything so you know if we can do that again this time it will be one of the most exciting things," said Sato. Sato also passed on his experiences regarding the new car to the technical team on Sunday and he is determined to emulate some of Senna's success - although it may be asking too much for him to do it in only his second full season. The extent of BAR Honda's progression in the new 006 remains to be seen - Button and Sato, who obviously respect each other and get on well, will know more after the season-opening Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne on March 7th. (AP)