Honda: 2008 French GP preview 

Written by David on June 17th, 2008 at 11:19 amLast Update: June 17th, 2008 at 11:19 am

Honda RacingRoss Brawn, Team Principal: “We expect the RA108 to be back on the pace of our midfield competitors in Magny Cours this weekend. Whilst Rubens led the last race in Canada for a short time and scored valuable points, we are fully aware that his race was helped by the safety car and retirements. The track at the Circuit de Nevers requires a much higher level of downforce and has a smooth surface which should suit our car much better than the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal. I expect a stronger performance this weekend and we will be looking to get into the points on the merit of the car’s performance. As our next aerodynamic upgrade is not due until the Silverstone test, we used the three days in Barcelona last week to evaluate the handling and set-up of the RA108 in order to increase our understanding of the car’s performance. At Montreal, it was evident that braking stability and the car’s ride quality over bumpy surfaces are not our strong point. This leads us to make comprises in other areas which prevents our drivers from achieving the balance that they are looking for. In Barcelona, we made some good progress with addressing this issues and improving the mechanical set-up of the car. We also continue to improve the driveability of the engine and even small steps here can find valuable laptime.”

Rubens Barrichello: “We are optimistic that we will be able to perform well at Magny Cours. The circuit is unusual in that the corners are either very fast or very slow. Turn three is a long fifth gear corner at over 200kph and the chicanes at turns six and 11 are even faster, whilst the rest of the corners are taken in first or second gear. It is the sort of circuit where you can run the car very low and close to the ground as the surface is so smooth, which should help us as we have struggled at the bumpier tracks this year. Magny Cours is a really flowing circuit which the drivers generally enjoy. The high speed changes of direction between turns four and five, and also turns seven and eight, are particularly challenging but exciting at the same time. The last chicane has big kerbs and if you have a car that can ride them, there is a lot of time to be gained here. A few of the corners lead into one another so it is also important to have a stable car that allows you to brake and turn at the same time. It’s not an easy circuit to overtake but there are possibilities at the turn five hairpin and coming into turn 15.”

Jenson Button: “The French Grand Prix takes place around a great track which I really enjoy driving. The Circuit de Nevers is very smooth and has some fast chicanes but despite being a lot of fun to drive, it is actually quite tricky to get your lap absolutely right. The key to a really quick lap is getting the front end of the car working well, particularly for turns one and two. You can lose a lot of time at turn two if you have too much understeer in the car. You also need to have a car with good stability and good change of direction to make the most of the high speed chicanes. In the race, the start is particularly important and you need to position yourself well for the first corners to get a run down the straight to the Adelaide hairpin which is really the only place on the circuit where you have a real chance of overtaking. I’m looking forward to the race, particularly after a disappointing weekend in Canada where we were really off the pace with the RA108 in a low downforce set-up. I’ve had some good results in Magny Cours previously and the race can be quite exciting, so I expect us to have a better weekend there.”

source: Honda 

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