Honda RA107: The Dark Horse
By: Jeremy McMullen
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By: Jeremy McMullen
| Appropriately unveiled in an all-black paint scheme, Honda F1 racing and its RA107 may prove to be the dark horses in this year's championship fight. Last year Jenson Button slipped through the field from fourteenth to score his first ever win. With the exception of that win, no other team besides Renault and Ferrari scored a win the entire season. And, while unveiled at Barcelona without a paint scheme, Honda hopes to keep other things besides a paint job under wraps until there is nothing the other teams can do about it.
In 2005 Honda purchased 100% of the shareholding rights between itself and partner British American Tobacco. This led to Honda fielding its first chassis since 1968. In between those moments, Honda simply concentrated on supplying powerful engines. When Honda joined forces with BAR it also took on the task of aiding in the development of the team's chassis. This primarily started as a result of needing to design the car around its engines in a manner that made the most of the powerplant. Now though the team was not new, 2006 offered something of a challenge for Honda since it took on the responsibility of developing an entire package for the world championship. Last year's RA106 provided the team with a stable and competitive platform, however, Honda believes the RA107 takes those competitive features and accents them with an entire package capable of consistent victory and points scoring ability. Honda believes the RA107 and the team's continuity will mean the team will be able to repeat its 2004 second-place finish in the constructor's championship, if not even better.
To meet those goals, Honda's engineers took the RA106 to form the basis for the RA107 but made some refinements to improve an already good chassis. With engine development frozen for the next couple of years, Honda's concentration had to be focused on aerodynamics and component development. And like with most teams, a lot of effort has been put into small changes meant to make the car the most efficient it can be. To do this, Honda has employed the use of fluid dynamics software. In fact, BAR Honda was one of the first to use fluid dynamics software when it was designing the RA106. This software enabled the team to efficiently understand changes to airflow when it passes over or around elements of a car's design. This software also aided Honda's engineers to understand the effects changes had on other parts of the car.
Some of the most prominent aspects seen on the RA107 are the large sidepod flicks and the triple-deck design of the rear flicks. The RA107 chassis is void of many of the barge boards that many other teams carry on their designs. Therefore, as a compromise, a large set of sidepod flicks are incorporated for better downforce and directional control of the airflow around the car and into the 'Coke bottle' shape design of the car's rear bodywork. Also, to aid in downforce and control of the airflow around the rear-wheels of the car, Honda has employed a Williams-esk triple deck design. These changes only represent a couple of the changes the 107 bears over the 106 of last year.