Sunday, October 22, 2006

Honda eyes title in 2007

This weekend will see the most thrilling climax to a Formula One season for many years and the sport will bid farewell to a legend. Honda Racing F1 Team CEO Nick Fry looks ahead to a momentous season finale and tells us why he believes the team can become a title contender in 2007.

The Championship quite literally comes down to the wire in Sao Paulo this weekend as Schumacher and Alonso slug it out for the drivers’ title. “This has been one of the most exciting seasons in many years and although we are not part of the Championship battle, it’s great that our team has been right in the thick of the action in the second half of the season”, said Fry.

As Formula One bids farewell to Michael Schumacher this weekend after more than 15 years in the sport, Fry says the Honda Racing F1 Team must take inspiration from his formidable achievements and rise to the challenge of contending both the Drivers’ and Constructors’ Championships next season.

“With seven world titles under his belt, Michael’s remarkable career should be celebrated. His success is the benchmark to which our team must now aspire. Michael’s departure puts Jenson Button in the position of one of the top three drivers in Formula One and that is a huge opportunity for us.”

“Rewind 17 races to winter testing and you will recall that Jenson had accrued an impressive 7000 miles of running between 1 January and the Bahrain Grand Prix - before the season had even got underway. That’s far more than any other race or test driver during that same period. Compare that with Michael Schumacher who was 5th in the mileage league table with some 1400 less than Jenson. If you look at testing mileage since the start of the season, then give or take a few miles, Jenson and Michael are running pretty neck and neck.”

“Jenson has a prodigious talent and it’s up to us now to give him the tools for the job. Since his first win in Hungary, Jenson has scored more points than any other driver including the two world title contenders! In those same races we have seen Jenson at his brilliant best - in his element and providing some real edge-of-your seat racing for the fans. As for making the most of overtaking opportunities, I think he answered his critics with his race win in Hungary when he went from 14th on the grid to P1.”

“2006 was this team’s eighth year of F1 competition but only its first as a Honda works outfit. With our first win in hand we know we are on the right trajectory. We have enjoyed a much improved second half of the season but we know that there is a great deal of opportunity for improvement. We will be working at 150 per cent over the winter to ensure that we are bona fide championship contenders next season.”

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