Honda aims high at Imola

Honda has an enviable record at the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari, the site of next weekend's San Marino Grand Prix

Honda aims high at Imola

The Japanese concern won four times at the track in the 80s and 90s, three of which were scored by Ayrton Senna at the scene of his fatal crash in 1994.

The finest victory is arguably 1988's, where Senna led McLaren Honda team mate Alain Prost, and Lotus Honda driver Nelson Piquet home to a Honda 1-2-3.

The current engine suppliers of British American Racing aim to return to the kind of progress they displayed at the Australian Grand Prix, where both BAR-Hondas finished in the points.

The team's Brazilian Grand Prix was more disappointing, with both cars suffering from gear selection problem.

However, the team believes that the Imola circuit's characteristics will play to their strengths, whilst not over-stretching what is still a very new engine.

"The constant acceleration and deceleration leads to an unusually high fuel consumption level, but as the car rarely reaches peak speeds, the overall stress on the engine at Imola are not excessive," claimed Takefumi Hosaka, Honda's director of research and development.

"Again, reliability will be important, as many of the teams still seem to be having problems in this area."

Imola used to be renowned as an engine breaker, but since the insertion of a number of chicanes, this is less of a feature.

"Generally, Imola is regarded as one of the medium speed circuits on the calendar," said Hosaka. "There is an interesting combination of low and high speed corners, so a good technical set up is as important as engine power."

The Imola qualifying record is in fact held by BAR driver Jacques Villeneuve from his Williams days, so the Canadian's experience is ideal for providing that perfect set up.

Ricardo Zonta, on the other hand, is less familiar with the track, having missed last year's race with an injury.

However, the Brazilian has raced on the track in his F3000 days, and so should not be too disadvantaged.

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