BAR launched its new 006 in Barcelona at the weekend and designer Geoff Willis claims the car's new carbon gearbox "is the best of its kind in F1".

BAR launched its new 006 in Barcelona at the weekend and designer Geoff Willis claims the car's new carbon gearbox "is the best of its kind in F1".


Speaking at the launch on Sunday, BAR team principal David Richards called for the team to lodge a "consistent challenge" to the top three F1 teams this year.


"Our relationship with Honda has developed immeasurably - we now have a totally integrated engineering team and will be in a position to provide a constant challenge to the top three teams", said Richards.


Willis said his engineering team had been more innovative with the thinking behind its 2004 car. The former Williams designer said the 006 built on the lessons learned from its predecessor, which finished fifth in the constructors' championship.


"The BAR-Honda 006 is a bolder car. Our main objective in 2003 was to establish a credible engineering base, and 2004 provides us with the opportunity to be innovative in design. There are a lot of new innovations on the car, some of which I'm going to try and keep secret for as long as I can.


"We are able to push the technology level higher this year. We now have extra resources of Honda engineers recruited into the BAR design team, and we are beginning to see the benefits of an integrated, stable engineering base. The partnership with Honda gets better all the time," he added.


Jenson Button believes the new BAR 006 is the car that will give him his first podium finish in F1 and perhaps even his first grand prix victory.


"I feel very confident that the team isn't overstating its expectations for this year when we say we can fight with the top three teams," he said. "I think (team-mate) Takuma Sato and I will work very well together and hopefully we can look toward the same kind of results we achieved in Japan . I think this year will definitely bring us podium finishes and, who knows, perhaps my first win as well.


"Getting that first podium always requires a bit of luck. If we work like we have over the winter, and the BAR-Honda package works as well as it has so far, then I see no reason why we can't take a podium from the first race in Melbourne.


”Pre-season testing has been going really well and the highlight so far was setting the new lap record in Barcelona two weeks ago. We didn't disguise the fact that we were running low fuel, but the purpose of the run was to gauge car performance in that trim. We were very pleased with the result," he added.