Ross Brawn will return to the Formula One pit-lane for the first time since his self-imposed sabbatical when he joins the Honda team for this week's group test at Jerez de la Frontera.

Absent from the paddock since he called time on his role as technical director at Ferrari after the 2006 campaign, Brawn will renew acquaintances when he turns out for his first test with his new team, taking the first public steps towards turning Honda's fortunes around after a disastrous 2007 season. The burly Briton officially started work as team principal last Monday, and has wasted little time in casting his eye over the various aspects of Honda's F1 programme as he takes sole charge ahead of 2008.

"I just want to have a look at the team, to meet them and have a first picture of how it all works," Brawn confirmed to the official F1 website, "I will be [at the test] on Tuesday.

"I must say that what I found here is even better than [was] described. I am very happy about what I have discovered in my first week at Honda. For sure, there is a huge challenge in front of all of us, but all the resources, all the tools, are in place and the people are incredibly enthusiastic and committed to try and succeed in the future. Even with all the tools, the most important thing you have in a team are the people. I came here and found people who are very keen and very ambitious for the future. Their enthusiasm was almost palpable. I did not have to face a demoralised workforce - that would have been disappointing."

While GP2 frontrunners Andi Zuber, Mike Conway and Luca Filippi are all expected to return to the cockpit for this week's test, Brawn was at pains to play down recent suggestions that Fernando Alonso was poised to replace Rubens Barrichello in the race line-up for 2008.

"Rubens has one year remaining on his contract," he pointed out, "I think the past year was very difficult to judge either driver because of the problems with the car. Personally, I think there is no reason not to continue with [the Barrichello-Jenson Button partnership] as both have proven that they can win races and they are both on very high standards.

"I am very much looking forward to working with Jenson. I have never worked with him before, [but] he always impressed me from a distance. He has a nice reputation in the team. The people like him here. So it is up to us to provide both with adequate material.

"I don't have any concerns about the drivers. There are much bigger challenges for the team overall, and for me, than the drivers."

 

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