Spanish GP: BAR preview

2002 Spanish Grand Prix, Barcelona The Team The San Marino Grand Prix brought mixed fortunes for Lucky Strike B.A.R Honda drivers Jacques Villeneuve and Olivier Panis. After qualifying in a much-improved 10th position, Jacques' gritty race ...

2002 Spanish Grand Prix, Barcelona

The Team

The San Marino Grand Prix brought mixed fortunes for Lucky Strike B.A.R Honda drivers Jacques Villeneuve and Olivier Panis. After qualifying in a much-improved 10th position, Jacques' gritty race performance, boosted by a first-class pitstop from the team, delivered an encouraging 7th place finish. Olivier drove an equally committed race but a throttle linkage failure cut the engine on his 44th lap and delivered only disappointment and a fourth successive DNF.

David Richards praised the team for a solid and committed performance throughout the weekend. Practice and qualifying passed with no recurrence of the reliability problems that dogged the team in the first three races and there was a marked improvement in the team's trackside operation. Technical Director Geoffrey Willis has pinpointed Canada as the first real turning point for Lucky Strike B.A.R Honda so a points finish may continue to prove hard to come by in the next three races.

Encouraged by a small but legitimate step forward in Imola, the team embarked on a three-day, three-man test in Silverstone last week (16-18 April). Jacques, Olivier and test driver Anthony Davidson worked their way through a comprehensive programme of evaluation and development which concluded with Olivier posting the 3rd fastest lap on day 3.

Lucky Strike B.A.R Honda's realistic objective for the Spanish Grand Prix is to maintain the team's new-found momentum to ensure the car operates at its current full potential.

David Richards, Team Principal

"Our performance in Imola was a step in the right direction. We must now ensure that we consolidate the progress we have made in terms of our reliability and work effectively at the track. We are expecting the Spanish Grand Prix to be just as challenging as Imola, if not more so. Our objective must be to maintain the momentum we have now established and maximise every opportunity."

Jacques Villeneuve

"We've done a lot of work to prepare for the next race and Barcelona is a track we know well through testing, but it won't be easy for us to repeat our Imola performance. We're certainly not expecting a repeat of last year's podium but we have to do as good a job through the weekend as we did in the last race so we can take advantage of any opportunities. I've won in Barcelona before and I like the circuit, but it's hard on brakes and understeer is a big problem. We're expecting a tough race."

Olivier Panis

"I was obviously disappointed not to finish again in Imola because it was our best weekend of the season. I was feeling very positive after qualifying, compared with the previous races, and the team did a fantastic job so they deserved to see both cars finish. I'm not making any predictions for the next race because I know it will be tough for us."

"We've tested there a lot so that should help us to get a better set-up than I had in Imola. It's a much more technical track and it isn't easy to get a perfect set-up. The circuit is a little bumpy but I enjoy the high-speed corners. I finished 2nd here in 1997 but at this stage I'll be happy just to finish the race. My motivation remains high and I continue to stay patient because I'm sure that improvements will come through the season."

The Circuit

Race Distance - 65 Laps. 190.962 miles (307.323 km)
Circuit Length - 2.939 miles (4.730 km)
Race Start - 14.00 local time (13.00BST)

Built as part of Barcelona's Olympic development programme, the Circuit de Catalunya is located 20 km north of the Catalan capital on land purchased by the Real Automóvil Club de Catalunya. It was the RACC's wish to bring F1 back to Spain's spiritual home of motorsport on a permanent basis, and indeed the Circuit de Catalunya has hosted every Spanish Grand Prix since it was completed in 1991.

Former Minardi driver Luis Perez Sala advised on the layout of the Circuit de Catalunya which follows the principles of many modern circuits. It possesses a long straight and a number of high-speed corners, making the aerodynamic efficiency of cars particularly important. It also has surface undulations that are capable of unsettling a modern Grand Prix car, so teams will be looking for a chassis set-up that rides bumps effectively. The nature of the track is such that it 'loads' the left front corner of a car particularly heavily causing understeer problems.

The Barcelona track hosts many pre-season tests, so it is one of the most familiar venues on the GP calendar. However, its high speed nature makes it a physically tough challenge for drivers, although by this stage of the season they will have reached a good level of race fitness. For spectators, it is a well laid-out circuit with easy access and good viewing positions which give a stadium-style ambience.


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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Olivier Panis , Jacques Villeneuve , Anthony Davidson , David Richards
Teams Minardi