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GP Week : Issue 37
Barrichello, left and above right w Button (right) have set the F1 worl hot laps been left holding the baby after no suitable candidates could be found for its purchase after BAT pulled out. So it plugged along, ploughing money into a project for which it had no real heart. The embarrassment caused back at home in Japan by its failure to shine was only compounded when Super Aguri turned up and used their old car to beat them. The economic crisis gave Honda the perfect exit strategy… although once again Honda found itself looking for someone to take over the team, subsequently turning down all the seemingly sensible options available. Exactly how Ross Brawn funded his take- over of the team remains unclear. What we understand to have happened is that Bernie Ecclestone, after having a reported $100 million deal to save the squad turned down, freed up some of the revenue owed to Honda from TV rights and race fees. The rest of the cash, so the rumours go, came from Honda itself partly because it 26 was cheaper to fund part of the team for a year than to make everyone redundant, and partly because Honda may yet wish to rejoin F1 in an eco-friendly future. As the deals were being done behind the scenes and the paperwork filed to turn HRF1 into BrawnGP, Brackley had continued to operate as normal. A deal had been done with Mercedes to take their engines onboard for 2009. While the Merc engine fitted best with the gearbox at Brawn’s disposal, there would be no room for the Honda KERS unit, and so, from early on in 2009, what would have been the RA109 was redesigned to fit a Mercedes engine and await the announcement of the new team owners. As testing began, the team was able to watch with interest as each team launched its cars. Exactly how much influence was taken from the new cars as they hit the track is uncertain, for the team formerly known as Honda had spent so much of 2008 on the 2009 car that the design process would have been heavily advanced by this stage anyway. All we know for sure is that by the time BrawnGP was announced on March 5 and the BGP001 was rolled out on the Stowe circuit at Silverstone on March 6, the team had at its disposal an incredibly neat, tidy and refined car for Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello to drive, both ex-Honda boys being kept on for the new season. It’s one of the prettiest cars on the 2009 grid. There is not an ounce of fat on the BGP001. Its design is so intricate, so clever. But would it work? Four days of testing in Barcelona have given us the following statistics. Rubens Barrichello and Jenson Button racked up a total of 427 laps, without any major reliability issues. They completed race distances, ran qualifying sims and Barrichello set the fastest lap of the test. Incredible, doesn’t quite sum it up.