Surprises at the season opener (Rd. 1 Monza)
“We had done a total of four winter-test sessions focusing on the drivability improvement and the control system adjustment. The new 2013 chassis was not bad and our drivers were generally satisfied with its balance. Lap times were so good that rival teams attending the same test grumbled it’s “Too fast!” Thus, we felt completely ready and couldn’t wait for the season opening race.
On March, 23 at the first round of the 2013 season in Monza, Gabriele Tarquini failed to get clear lap and had to settle in the 5th grid, which was then demoted to the 10th grid due to a penalty. Tiago Monteiro sunk further back on the 15th grid. It’s true that the attack timing was bad and it prevented us to get clear lap, however, our straight-line speed was not indeed up to the same of rivals’. We just couldn’t understand the reason why this had happened.
After the qualifying session, the team convened an emergency assembly. Drivers, engineers and Honda’s key personnel thoroughly discussed the problems and possible countermeasures. It was an important meeting that made the entire staff, putting each parochial interest aside, work as one to find the solution. Honda engineers analyzed all night long for the engine problems, which revealed the insufficient air-intake during acceleration. The changed shape of induction box and a minor fault in the air-cleaner were the cause of the problem. These two elements jointly hindered the air flow, thus, resulted in the insufficient air-intake.
The season-opening race was fought in the heavy rain and Honda’s two drivers did wonderful job despite of the near zero visibility. Tarquini’s start at Race 2 was a brilliant one enabling him to momentarily lead the field in the opening lap. It was a satisfying result for us to have both cars finish both races and get 3rd place in Race 2 being able to stand on the podium.”