Mike Gascoyne, Mild Seven Benetton Renault Sport Technical Director: PREPARATION Looking back at the first four races, the start of the season has been as difficult as we expected and to some extent the Spanish Grand Prix will be the same. One...
Mike Gascoyne, Mild Seven Benetton Renault Sport Technical Director:
Looking back at the first four races, the start of the season has been as difficult as we expected and to some extent the Spanish Grand Prix will be the same. One of the key features in this race is the introduction of new regulations on electronic systems which allow the use of traction and launch control. The Mild Seven Benetton Renault Sport teamTs primary focus has been to increase competitiveness and reliability and so testing with these systems has been limited but still productive. We have several minor aerodynamic improvements for Barcelona as part of our on going aero development programme. On the engine side we will be using the same specification of engines as in the San Marino Grand Prix.
In the season so far, our race performance has undoubtedly been more competitive than qualifying and so this is one of our main areas of focus for improvement. Our starts have also been competitive and have allowed us to move up at the start of the race and now we must look to do this from higher grid positions. Overall the teamTs aim is to ensure reliability over the weekend and maximise the limited performance. Both drivers have been doing an excellent job to get the best out of the package and I am sure they will make the most of the aerodynamic improvements.
Pat Symonds, Mild Seven Benetton Renault Sport Director of Engineering:
The Barcelona circuit is used by most teams for the majority of the winter testing and therefore one would think it is well known by the teams. However, the nature of the circuit is such that it appears different every time you go there and indeed changes throughout any given day. This is largely because of the wind, which on the exposed circuit can lead to different handling characteristics on the car from morning to afternoon.
It is a circuit where aerodynamic efficiency is of supreme importance as it has a very long straight and some challenging high speed corners and yet a number of slow second gear corners. The circuit itself is extremely abrasive and hard on the tyres particularly the left front tyre, which gets highly loaded through turn three and the final two corners. This means that the strategy employed in the race is very dependent on the suitability on the tyres. Although having said this, the circuit is so abrasive that it is unusual and unlikely that anyone will do less than two stops and indeed in the past a three-stop strategy has been employed in this race. Although the circuit has a very long straight, it is not a race where much overtaking will take place as it is very difficult to follow a car through the final two corners without losing down-force and therefore quite hard to get a tow and an overtaking opportunity into the first corner. The race this year sees the introduction of the new regulations governing the electronics and it will be very interesting to see how the teams will cope with the new freedom given to them in engine control, gearbox control, traction control and more sophisticated control of the differential. For this race even launch control is now allowed and some teams may well be using it so the start should be particularly exciting to watch.
Jenson Button describes a lap of the Barcelona circuit in Spain:
A lap of Barcelona starts with a very fast entry to the first corner where I will be doing around 110 km/h in top gear before braking hard to the first double corner. The first part of this is taken in second gear at over 120 km/h and I will then accelerate through the left hand part of the corner, taken in third gear just before turning to the left and hitting the apex at around 175 km/h. Turn three is a very difficult corner as, like much of the circuit, it is affected a lot by the wind direction. I will take it in fourth gear and depending on the wind I will probably hold around 210 km/h through this corner, I have to be very precise and look after the tyres as well as getting the apex correct.
A short straight, where I will briefly take 5 th gear and reach about 285 km/h, leads into the tight right-hand turn four where I will drop down to 2 nd gear and apex at just under 120km/h. I will briefly get into 4 th gear before going down to 2 nd gear for the tight left-hand corner which I take at 95 km/h. Again a very short straight where I reach around 260km/h in 4 th gear leads into the next left-hand corner taken at around 130 km/h in either 2 nd or 3 rd gear. I will accelerate out of this reaching just under 250 km/h in 4 th gear before braking very lightly and holding 4 th gear through the 200 km/h corner that leads on to the back straight. The back straight is also affected by wind and I will reach just under 300 km/h but may use 5 th or 6 th gear depending on whether I have head wind or tail wind. I will brake hard before another hard left-hand corner, taken at around 100 km/h in 2 nd gear. I briefly reach 3 rd gear before braking again and changing down to 2 nd gear for the next right-hand corner taken at around 115km/h. This leads straight into the final two corners which are extremely fast and challenging. They are both taken in 4 th gear, the first corner at just under 230 km/h and the final corner at 220km/h. These are very exiting corners where I pull a lot of G force and can make a significant difference to my speed on to the straight. I will cross the finish line at just under 275km/h in 5 th gear before finally taking 6 th gear on the long straight.