BAR-Honda Preview Press Release
Lucky Strike B.A.R Honda
2002 Japanese Grand Prix
11 - 13 October 2002
The final round of the Formula One World Championship takes Lucky
Strike B.A.R Honda to the home of its Japanese partners Honda and
Bridgestone this weekend for one final push before bidding farewell to
a challenging 2002 season. Built as a test track for Honda in 1962,
the Suzuka Circuit is located 30 miles from Japan's third largest city,
Nagoya. Originally part of a motorcycle theme park, Suzuka Circuitland
was the first full-scale racetrack in Japan and also houses the Honda
racing museum, hotels, restaurants, an exhibition centre and an
amusement park. A ride on the famous Big Wheel is the best way to see
the characteristic figure-of-eight track, which is one of only a few
The team will be pulling out all the stops to give its legions of local
fans something to celebrate at the end of what will be an emotional
weekend for Olivier Panis, who will compete in his final Grand Prix for
B.A.R. After 2 years together, there is nothing that the team would
like more than to see Olivier depart on a high note.
This year the final race of the season also has greater significance
for Bridgestone, as the tyre manufacturer's home race will also be its
100th Grand Prix since entering the World Championship in 1997. B.A.R
has enjoyed a productive partnership with Bridgestone since 1999 and
will be aiming to produce a good result for the company's many
employees who are travelling from Tokyo to watch this race.
Following a good result at the United States Grand Prix, B.A.R brought
its 2002 season test programme to a close with a productive 3-day test
in Barcelona (1-3 October). The team's objective at the Circuit de
Catalunya was to put some more mileage on the latest evolution of the
Honda engine in preparation for the Japanese Grand Prix, together with
a tyre test for Bridgestone, an aerodynamic assessment and a software
evaluation. Test drivers Anthony Davidson and Ryo Fukuda between them
covered over 1000km and both the car and the engine proved to be
With 6th place in the Constructors' Championship only two points away,
the team is determined to put in a strong performance this weekend.
David Richards, Team Principal
"The Japanese Grand Prix is a very important race for us, not least
because of our partnerships with Honda and Bridgestone. We will have a
lot of support from our many Japanese fans and I hope we can reward
them with a good result by the team here."
"Honda have continued their development programme right through to the
last race and were working hard in testing last week to deliver a
further step forward for Suzuka. After a strong weekend in
Indianapolis two weeks ago, we are optimistic that we can repeat that
performance this weekend."
"This is also Olivier's last race for B.A.R and while we are sad to see
him go I have no doubt that we will see an extra push from the team to
give him the best possible send off."
Jacques Villeneuve on the Japanese Grand Prix
"The Japanese GP is a special race for the team but it is also one of
my personal favourites. I have lots of good memories of Japan from
when I lived here for a year early in my career and it is always great
to come back."
"Indianapolis was a good weekend for us and it would be nice to finish
with a positive result in Suzuka. The Honda engine felt good during
the US Grand Prix and it looks like we could be quite competitive here
also. It's important for us to finish the season on a high. It's also
my last race with Olivier as my team mate. Olivier and I have had a
great working relationship together at B.A.R."
"Suzuka is one of the most beautiful circuits that we have on the GP
calendar. It's quite technical, very challenging and the high-speed
corners are a lot of fun to drive. It would be nice to get a good
result for the team here."
Olivier Panis on the Japanese Grand Prix
"The Japanese Grand Prix is my last race with Lucky Strike B.A.R Honda
so it's a very important race for me. It would be fantastic to finish
in the points here and leave on a positive note. For me, that would be
the best way of thanking the team for all their hard work over the last
couple of years."
"This is also a big race for our partners and it would be great to do
well on their home turf. Honda have done a very good job to continue
improving until the end of the season and I'm optimistic that we can be
competitive here at Suzuka."
"I love coming to Japan. Suzuka is my second favourite circuit after
Spa because it has a great rhythm and is very enjoyable to drive. It's
very distinctive because of the figure-of-eight and my favourite part
is the first chicane after the first corner into the S-curve."
Race Distance - 53 Laps. 191.588 miles (308.317 km)
Circuit Length - 3.617 miles (5.821 km)
Race Start - 14.30 local time (06.30 BST)
Built by Honda as a test circuit in 1962, Suzuka was designed by John
Hugenholz, a Dutchman who also produced Zandvoort and Jarama. The
circuit is situated on Honshu, by far the largest of the Japanese
islands, which is also home to Tokyo, Yokohama and Osaka and is just
one component of a giant amusement park and other facilities.
Suzuka itself has an 18-turn figure-of-eight course that is unique in
F1. It begins with a fast 5th gear bend that tightens to lead into a
series of fast S-bends. The tricky, tightening, Spoon curve and the
flat-out 130R are the other great challenges on this popular drivers
circuit, the latter corner being the fastest on the track and taken at
Overtaking is normally done into the slowest corner on the track, the
40mph Casio Triangle chicane at the end of the lap. More difficult
passing moves can be performed in the 140mph First Corner and very
occasionally at the Turn 11 Hairpin.
For 2002, the circuit has been reduced to 3.617 miles in length,
courtesy of the re-profiling of several key corners on the lap in order
to provide greater areas of run off. Retaining walls have also been
moved back and the track alignment altered at the S-curves and Dunlop
Curves. However, it is thought the changes will not significantly
effect lap times.