The Formula One European season begins next weekend in Barcelona with Round Four of the 2007 FIA Formula One World Championship - the Spanish Grand Prix. After a four-week break following the flyaway races, the Formula One teams return to Europe...
The Formula One European season begins next weekend in Barcelona with Round Four of the 2007 FIA Formula One World Championship - the Spanish Grand Prix.
After a four-week break following the flyaway races, the Formula One teams return to Europe and look forward to the challenge of the more traditional circuits on the calendar. The Circuit de Catalunya is familiar to the Honda Racing F1 Team as a regular testing venue and hosted a four-day test this week as the Honda team prepared for the event.
Shuhei Nakamoto - Senior Technical Director:
"In preparation for the Spanish Grand Prix, we have had the test session in Barcelona this week to evaluate various specifications, particularly the latest aerodynamic parts for the RA107. We had gathered a great deal of data and believe that we have found a good set-up combination and made progress with the aerodynamics. The car seems to be working better with the tyres now and our pace and reliability is steady. So a small step forward but there is much work still to do."
"The fact that we test here so much makes the Grand Prix weekend feel very familiar and of course we know the track inside out. The key to a really quick lap at the Circuit de Catalunya is having a car with good downforce, you need to feel confident when you commit to the very high speed corners."
"Overtaking can be a real challenge here and one of the best opportunities is going into the first corner after the start. You can squeeze by there once the race has settled down but it is very difficult. The new chicane can also be tricky as it is extremely slippery and so very slow. One little mistake could cost you a lot of time there. It's also slowed the approach to the old final corner which was a great challenge. "
Rubens Barrichello on the Circuit de Catalunya:
"The Circuit de Catalunya is almost like a home circuit now because the F1 teams conduct most of their European testing there and like all of the drivers, I know the track like the back of my hand. A lap around here feels something like this...
When you exit the fast right-hand turn thirteen onto the long main straight for the start of the lap, the engine noise echoes through the vast and towering grandstands which gives a feeling of real exhilaration, I love that noise!
Then it's downhill towards turn one where you brake hard down to second gear from 310kph, throwing the car hard right, then left and straight into turn two. Then you accelerate hard into the long right-hand turn three which can be taken at full throttle with the grip of new tyres.
For the short drag down to turn four, you are back up to 300kph, then into the slow right-hander taken in second gear from where the track falls downhill into the hairpin left of turn five. Here you have to be careful not to lock your wheels on the undulating track.
Accelerating hard once again towards the medium-speed left-hand turn six, running hard over the kerb as you push uphill to the fast right-hander turn seven which leads on to the back straight. Again you are again at over 300kph approaching turn eight, braking hard down to second gear and negotiating the slippery new track surface through the right-hander. Then it's into the long right-hand turn nine which is taken in second gear.
After a short straight, there is now a new complex of right-left-right turns, which in contrast to the old fast right-hander that it replaces, seems so slow. Exiting the last of this series, being careful not to hit the high kerbs, you accelerate hard to the fast right-hand turn thirteen and back on the pit straight to enjoy those amazing grandstand acoustics once again."