The Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona is well known to the Formula One teams in that it plays host to several test sessions in the months leading up to the Spanish Grand Prix. Very few circuits on the calendar boast as much F1 activity as this one...
The Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona is well known to the Formula One teams in that it plays host to several test sessions in the months leading up to the Spanish Grand Prix. Very few circuits on the calendar boast as much F1 activity as this one and for the first time this season, 'unfamiliarity' is not a term that can be applied by any of the teams or their drivers. Jaguar Racing arrive in Barcelona with a new race driver alongside Eddie Irvine - the Spaniard Pedro de la Rosa. Pedro's switch from test driver to race driver was confirmed last Thursday at Silverstone (UK). Pedro replaced Luciano Burti who joined Prost Grand Prix with immediate effect.
Bobby Rahal - Chief Executive Officer and Team Principal "We welcome Pedro on-board and look forward to seeing him race this weekend at his home Grand Prix. Pedro has done a commendable job for us in testing and I'm confident in his ability to deliver on the race-track. He has applied himself very diligently and has generated a lot of respect from within the team in a relatively short space of time. His work up until now, however, has been with the test team and not the race team. He visited the factory in Milton Keynes on Friday to acquaint himself with the race team and I'm sure he'll settle into his new role very quickly. Qualifying should certainly make for interesting viewing!"
Eddie Irvine "We have all tested so much here that we pretty much know what to expect from this track. The dominant feature here is long fast corners - aerodynamics and tyres will be a deciding factor. The wind can cause a few headaches here, as it often decides to cha nge direction. It's also the first race with all the electronic aids back on the car. As I've said before, I am not in favour of them, but apart from the obvious changes, it will also be interesting to see what effect they will have on tyre performance and wear. I was sorry to see Luciano go, as he brought a lot to the team. But I can understand his reasons for going. Usually, changing team-mates in the middle of the season is not a good idea and can destabilise things, but in our case, Pedro has been with us for a while already and understands the task at hand so everything should go smoothly on that front."
Pedro de la Rosa "I can't believe that my debut race for Jaguar Racing coincides with my home Grand Prix. People assume that because I'm from Barcelona, I know the track better than anybody. I wish this were true. I know this track as well as any other F1 driver. I recentl y tested the Jaguar R2 at the Circuit de Catalunya and I don't expect us to be any higher on the grid this weekend than has been the case so far this season. Aerodynamics will play a crucial role and our efforts to find aerodynamic improvements are on-goin g. I haven't driven the latest spec Michelin tyres, but I understand that they are an improvement. This is circuit is one of the toughest on tyres and from what I've seen, I'm sure Michelin will be well-prepared for this race."
Pedro de la Rosa - Questions & Answers
Q: How big will expectations be during your home race, albeit your debut race for Jaguar Racing? A: I just hope that people don't expect anything from me. I know this is unrealistic to expect, but I have nothing in mind than to give 100%. I want to finish the weekend knowing that I did the best possible job for both Jaguar Racing and myself. This team is currently in transition and it will take time before we are challenging the front-runners. Our aim this season is to be competitive and use this as a baseline for developing next year's car. Expectations will always be high in circumstances like th is, but my debut for Jaguar Racing must be taken in the context of the team's capabilities at this stage of our development.
Q: This time last week you were a test driver and now you're a full time race driver again. Do you now adopt a different approach? A: You must step up another gear, but I still think one part of you remains as a test driver because of the development responsibility. You never stop developing the car. On the other hand, you now have to race 21 cars every two weeks and that requires extra aggression and focus. You must consistently prove your competitiveness and that means pushing very hard at race level. I haven't raced competitively since last year and I can't wait to line up on that grid this weekend. It certainly beats te sting at a wet and windy Silverstone!
Q: Eddie Irvine is a different character to you. How well do you think you'll work with him? A: One thing is for sure - Eddie is certainly a different character! I've spent a few days testing with him and he's very different from your average F1 driver. I've never had a problem with my team-mate and Eddie's no different. We must work well together and not against each other. We share the mutual goal of taking this team forward and I haven't seen anything from Eddie that worries me in this respect. He applies himself well and is an experienced and capable driver. Before I try beating anybody this weekend, I must compete with Eddie. As somebody with the same equipment as me, he is the benchmark that I must use before anybody else on that race track.
Q: Apart from the same colour uniforms, your race team this weekend shares nothing in common with the test team that you have spent the last few months working with. Doesn't it feel like joining a completely new team? A: I met my mechanics for the first time last Friday and you know what? - this is the first time in my career that I have arrived at a race meeting and not known the team around me! It makes things a little harder, of course, but this whole team is like a new and complex machine. There are lots of new components and it will take time before every component is working in complete harmony and efficiency. That's the challenge we face. The building blocks for the future are being laid down now and I'm confident in exploiting the potential we have.