The Formula One circus heads south this week to Catalunya in Spain for round five of the 2003 World Championship. The Circuit de Catalunya, just north of Barcelona, is the favoured winter testing ground for many of the F1 teams so they are more...
The Formula One circus heads south this week to Catalunya in Spain for round five of the 2003 World Championship. The Circuit de Catalunya, just north of Barcelona, is the favoured winter testing ground for many of the F1 teams so they are more than familiar with its idiosyncrasies.
The San Marino Grand Prix produced mixed results for the Lucky Strike B*A*R Honda team. Jacques Villeneuve and Jenson Button qualified in seventh and ninth places respectively and solid positions at the start should have produced points for both drivers in the race. They were held up at the start by Mark Webber's slow getaway and although they recovered well, the team were disappointed to finish only one car. Jenson fought hard for eighth place and another point to boost B*A*R's tally but Jacques' race was brought to a disappointing and abrupt end by a small fire under the engine cover.
B*A*R's test team have spent three days in Mugello this week working on tyre testing, aerodynamic modifications and engine development with Honda in preparation for the Spanish Grand Prix. Preparation is vital for this event as it can have a high rate of attrition - less than half the grid managed to complete last year's race.
The team has had a varied run of results in Spain over the years. In 2001, Jacques secured the team's first ever podium finish but last year he just missed out on points. In his World Championship year, 1997, he won this race.
"I was extremely disappointed that my race came to an end in Imola last weekend. We have been experiencing too many mechanical problems since the beginning of the season, when we should have been collecting as many points as possible. I was confident that we would be very competitive in Imola and it was frustrating to once again walk away without any points.
"I have managed to get quite a bit of mileage in at the test in Mugello, however we are still experiencing mechanical problems which is delaying our progress. The team is working extremely hard and I hope that we are able to secure a good result at the next race. We have had reasonably good races in Barcelona in the past.
"We have done a lot of testing in Barcelona and sometimes it does get a bit boring testing at the same track all the time, but it is a good race track. There are some exciting high speed corners. Although there aren't too many overtaking opportunities, it is a tough race track and should make for an exciting race."
"Barcelona will always hold great memories for me as it's where I was when I found out I'd got my first F1 drive! We all know the circuit so well as it's a popular testing track, but it's a physical one too, as the long, sweeping bends put a lot of force onto the body. The city is fun but we don't get to see much of it during a race weekend -- we have to wait for winter testing to try out all the restaurants!
"The track itself is a good challenge with a mixture of medium-speed and high-speed turns, connected by long straights. Aerodynamic efficiency is important there, as the car needs to be perfectly balanced in order for us to get a smooth lap.
"I didn't have a good result in Barcelona last year. I qualified sixth but we couldn't get the car balanced properly for the race so I had understeer in the high-speed corners and oversteer everywhere else! I then ended up with a hydraulic problem that stopped me before the end of the race. This year my target here is to keep adding to our points tally but preferably a bit higher up the classification this time."
David Richards, Team Principal:
"I'm pleased we have been able to regularly score points this year but the push continues as we are capable of higher points positions. As we have said before, we want both cars in the points and I believe we are more than capable of achieving this. We have a further round of developments for this weekend both with the car and engine.
"Barcelona is often a tough race but the team has done well here in the past and testing has gone well so I am hopeful for a good result.
"We have made fantastic progress over the last 12 months and the task now is to keep that momentum going and continually improve our performance. Morale continues to grow at B*A*R with everyone looking forward to the challenges ahead."
Geoffrey Willis, Technical Director:
"Although it was disappointing for us not to get both cars in the points at Imola, we're pleased that we have been able to score points in the last three races. Our target now is still the same - to get both drivers home in the points.
"The B*A*R Honda 005 has run well in previous Barcelona tests and we have some aerodynamic developments to introduce here. The car needs to have good aerodynamic efficiency to run at the limit, due to the long, high-speed corners. We will be running a harder tyre than in the previous four races as the corner speeds and the abrasiveness of the track demand it. We've completed numerous tyre tests in preparation for this race and I believe the tyre battle will be very interesting here. We are looking forward to the results of all the hard work that Bridgestone has put in recently."
Shuhei Nakamoto, Engineering Director, Honda Racing Development:
"It was encouraging to score points for the third race in a row in San Marino. We've had some reasonable results at the Circuit de Catalunya over the past couple of years, and I'm feeling positive for the weekend ahead."