After a dismal showing in winter testing Honda’s performance in the first three races of the season has been almost respectable.
Jenson Button got the RA108 into the top ten in qualifying at Bahrain – beating Fernando Alonso’s Renault – and reckoned a points finish was on the cards had he not picked up a puncture on the opening lap.
And it’s clear from Ross Brawn there’s more to come when he priased the progress the team made between the car’s launch and the start of the season:
I think it was probably the biggest step I’ve ever seen in terms of an aerodynamic package since I’ve been involved in this business.
That’s a hell of a statement from a man who’s worked on TWR Jaguar sportscars, Michael Schumacher-era Benettons and, of course, some of the most dominant F1 cars ever to come from the Ferrari stable.
The question now is, how much of his effort is he channeling into 2008, and how much is he working on the long game and making sure the team is ready for the big rules changes in 2009? Here’s what he told Autosport:
There’s an aero package for Barcelona and then I think there will be another update mid-season, possibly with some mechanical improvements. And then I think we’re going to be battening down the hatches and concentrating on 2009.
If I were a Honda fan I’d be quietly confident about the team’s chances. The Brawn factor seems to be working its magic.
I would also say it’s a fair bet Honda will stick with Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello next year for continuity in the face of substantial technical upheaval.
How do you think Honda will do over the rest of 2008 – and 2009?