Honda's new RA106 debuted at Barcelona on January 25th, the first Formula One car presented by Honda as a works team in nearly 40 years. The manufacturer, which took over BAR, unveiled two new chassis at the Circuit de Catalunya so Jenson Button and new teammate Rubens Barrichello could both begin testing it.
BAR's best finish in the constructors' standings was second in 2004, when Button was third overall in the drivers' championship behind the two Ferrari pilots. Barrichello has nine race wins in his F1 career, all with Ferrari, but Button and the team have yet to reach the top step of the podium, something the they intend to rectify this year.
"Our target in 2006 is to challenge for race wins and we will do our utmost to achieve that objective," said chief executive Nick Fry. "During 2005 we put in place some important building blocks that will help us meet our targets in 2006 and beyond."
"We secured two of the best racing drivers in the world, we proved our ability to develop a car through the season, resulting in points for Jenson in each of the last ten races, and we gained a better understanding of the strengths of the 2004 car and the issues with our 2005 race car."
Yasuhiro Wada, president of Honda Racing Development, added: "The 2006 F1 season means a great deal to all of us at Honda as it marks the beginning of a new adventure and confirms an even greater commitment to F1. The launch today of the first F1 chassis since 1968 to carry the Honda name is a particularly significant moment."
The livery of the new car is familiar, featuring a basis of Honda Racing White with title sponsor Lucky Strike's colours. As with other teams' 2006 challengers, aerodynamics was an important area of the chassis design process in line with the smaller V8 engine. It also features a third-generation carbon composite gearbox.
"The new RA106 is the product of four years of steady evolution," said technical director Geoff Willis. "During this time, the team has developed a high level of technical capability which now sees it designing, manufacturing and operating at the highest level on the grid. The emphasis now is on integration and combining our design concepts and expertise to achieve a car capable of challenging for race wins."
Button enters his fourth season with the team while Barrichello joins after six years with Ferrari. "I'm incredibly proud and excited to be part of the Honda Racing F1 Team and 2006 is going to be a very important year for all of us," said Button.
"We've achieved a lot in winter testing with our Concept car and I have seen first hand the huge effort in Brackley and Tochigi over the past few months. I'm confident that all the determination will be rewarded this year and I've done my part by working even harder on my fitness to ensure that I'm in the best possible shape for the season ahead."
Barrichello commented: "Honda has a fantastic heritage in motorsport and it's great to be a part of that now. I can't wait to drive the new car and the discussions I've had with our technical team indicate that we have good reason to be excited about the season ahead. I'm sure that will be confirmed when I test the car for the first time today."
Anthony Davidson stays on for his sixth season as test driver. "I'm really looking forward to playing my part in what I'm sure will be a successful year for the team," he said. "It's going to be great to be running again on Fridays at Grands Prix and I know this will really help our development throughout the year."
RA106 technical specifications:
Construction: Moulded carbon fibre and honeycomb composite structure that surpasses latest FIA impact and strength regulations
Front suspension: Wishbone and pushrod-activated torsion springs and rockers, mechanical anti-roll bar
Rear suspension: Wishbone and pushrod-activated torsion springs and rockers, mechanical anti-roll bar
Wheels: BBS forged magnesium
Front: 312mm wide
Rear: 340mm wide
Front: 2 x 6-piston calipers
Back: 2 x 6-piston calipers
Brake discs/pads: Carbon/Carbon
Steering: Honda F1 power assisted Rack and Pinion
Steering wheel: Honda F1 carbon fibre construction
Driver's seat: Anatomically formed carbon composite
Seat belts: Six-point harness (75mm shoulder straps with HANS system)
Fuel cell: ATL kevlar-reinforced rubber bladder
Fuel capacity: 150 litre
Battery: 3Ah Lead Acid
Instrumentation: Honda F1 steering wheel dash display
Gearbox: Carbon composite maincase: 7-speed unit, Honda internals
Gear selection: Sequential, semi-automatic, hydraulic activation
Clutch: Carbon plate
Front track: 1460mm
Rear track: 1420mm
Wheel base: 3140mm
Overall length: 4675mm
Overall height: 950mm
Overall width: 1800mm
Honda RA806E engine
Name: Honda RA806E
Displacement: 2.4 litres
Configuration: V8, naturally aspirated
Vee angle: 90 degrees
Maximum power: Over 700 ps
Maximum revs: Over 18,500 rpm
Valve train: 4 valves per cylinder; pneumatic valve system
Injection system: Honda PGM-FI
Throttle system: Electronic hydraulically-operated system
Ignition system: Honda PGM-IG