Honda aces Rubens Barrichello and Jenson Button are approaching this weekend's European Grand Prix with mixed feelings, with the former a previous winner at the N?rburging but the latter describing it as a weekend to endure rather than enjoy.

The Brazilian triumphed at the circuit for Ferrari five years ago, and has registered four further podiums and ten points finishes there in twelve outings. He is hoping to add to that impressive record this time around, despite the Japanese manufacturer having garnered but a single point during a troubled 2007 so far.

"The N?rburgring is a challenging circuit for the drivers and one I particularly enjoy," the 35-year-old enthused. "I won the grand prix back in 2002 so I always feel good about returning and racing around here.

"I like the layout of the circuit and it has some great high-speed corners and interesting undulations. With the recent improvements to our car, we are now capable of knocking on the door of the points-scoring positions so I am hoping to have a good race at the weekend."

Button, meanwhile, has also tasted podium champagne at the Eifel Mountains track in the past, courtesy of third place for BAR-Honda in 2004, but he has only notched up two further points finishes from a total of seven starts.

"Although it is a venue with a great deal of motor racing history, I have to be honest and say that the N?rburgring is not one of my favourite circuits on the Formula 1 calendar," the Briton acknowledged. "It is actually quite a tricky circuit, particularly going down to the first corner from the start line, as it has a bumpy approach and you need to keep your wits about you and position yourself well for the best exit. Having said that, the first corner is one of the best opportunities for overtaking as the cars around you quite often just slide straight on. You can also overtake going into the chicane at the end of the lap.

"The key to getting a quick lap around the N?rburgring is getting your approach to turn one absolutely right, because you can ruin your whole lap if you get on the brakes at the wrong moment. From a technical viewpoint, the biggest challenge is to have a car which works well with the changes of camber. There are a lot of corners off-camber, so it is vital to get the correct line when you arrive into the corner."

The new N?rburgring is decidedly tame in comparison to its historic and intimidating 14-mile, 174-corner predecessor. Further changes to the old track came in 2002 when the first turn was re-profiled to cut into the infield and around a new stadium section, slowing the circuit even more but at the same time yielding another overtaking spot. Drivers are now presented with a full palette of slow, medium and high-speed corners.

"We used the test at Spa-Francorchamps last week to evaluate some new aero upgrades which we plan to use from the European Grand Prix onwards," added Honda senior technical director Shuhei Nakamoto. "We also put the V8 engine through its paces for the first time at Spa and worked to find a good set-up for the Belgian Grand Prix in September. We struggled for balance at high speeds which meant our lap times were not good.

"On the positive side, however, we were one of few teams to experience few or no mechanical problems with the engine. Looking ahead to the race at the N?rburgring this weekend, it is a venue that poses a lot of challenges. Good levels of downforce are required as the circuit has a range of low to high-speed corners, while you also need good stability under braking. We will be as aggressive as possible and aim to score points."

 

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