THE SPANISH GRAND PRIX 1997 - PREVIEW ===================================== The Catalunya circuit, home of the Spanish Grand Prix provides the next venue for the FIA World Championships in...
THE SPANISH GRAND PRIX 1997 - PREVIEW ===================================== The Catalunya circuit, home of the Spanish Grand Prix provides the next venue for the FIA World Championships in which the West McLaren Mercedes team will take part.
At a distance of 4.727 kms the long, fast corners and slippery surface puts heavy demands on the aerodynamic package. It is important therefore that the chassis remains stable in the corners and handles consistently throughout, bringing the performance and balance of the car to the foreground of attention.
The softer tyre compounds being run this season denote that qualifying times should be quicker than those of last year, with times tumbling consecutively at every race so far. However, tyre wear will play an important part in the race as the Barcelona circuit characteristically results in heavy degeneration of rubber, particularly those tyres on the left front, owing to the presence of some long fast corners. Inevitably the tyre degradation experienced during the course of the 65 lap race will require a race strategy of between two or three laps depending on the amount of wear sustained.
With the combination of long straights and fast corners the Catalunya track is a challenging circuit for the drivers with the focus being centred on the final corner before the pit straight where the drivers will experience cornering forces well in excess of 4 'g'. 'It is no good thinking that we are all pussycats out there', said David Coulthard. 'You have to work hard and drive to the best of your ability, whatever the conditions.'
Wind direction is another significant factor at this particular circuit. Changes encountered at different positions around the track can completely alter the feel of the car. 'You have to ensure that you are not caught out' said Mika Hakkinen, 'by the rapidly changing weather conditions. But having just spent an encouraging few days at Barcelona testing, I will be looking forward to the challenge that this race provides.'