Spanish GP: Renault technical preview

Comments from the Renault technical team ahead of the Spanish Grand Prix Mike Gascoyne -- Technical Director: Q: Jarno was a victim of the new regulations in Imola, being forced to race a car that wasn't properly set up for him. Do you think...

Comments from the Renault technical team ahead of the Spanish Grand Prix

Mike Gascoyne -- Technical Director:

Q: Jarno was a victim of the new regulations in Imola, being forced to race a car that wasn't properly set up for him. Do you think the new regulations give enough latitude in these situations?

MG: In the context of the new regulations, the scenario we faced was about the worst one possible, with a problem immediately before Saturday qualifying that had a direct impact on Jarno's race on Sunday. Overall, however, I don't think we need to look at the regulations; as a Team, we know the penalties for that kind of problem, and we have to work hard to make sure we don't get caught out again.

Q: On paper, Imola was not the Team's best circuit of the year; how compatible do you expect Barcelona to be with the strengths of the package?

MG: Certainly in theory, Imola wasn't expected to be our best circuit of the year, but the Team was pleased with the ultimate level of competitiveness, and we managed to score more points. Barcelona should suit us better: the significant number of high-speed corners should see our aerodynamic qualities come to the fore. We also saw at the last race that Michelin has made big strides with the tyres in these colder European conditions. We had good tyres in Imola, and we are pleased with what we have for Barcelona. I think we can expect very competitive showing.

Q: And finally, how competitive do you expect the R23 to be in Spain?

MG: I think that in Barcelona, we can look to be as competitive as in Malaysia and Brazil. We had a very productive test last week at Silverstone, making progress on the aerodynamics, mechanical performance and the engine. Certainly, this should be one of our good races of the season; we have to capitalise on that, and make sure we are challenging for podium positions.

<B>Pat Symonds -- Executive Director of Engineering:

Q: Pat, Barcelona might be considered quite an 'easy' circuit for the engineers, as all the teams do so much running there. Consequently, how beneficial do you think the Friday morning session will be?

PS: Barcelona is our prime testing circuit, more so even than Silverstone, and that is true for most of the teams. This is because it has a variety of corners that you donmt usually find together on a single circuit, from 95 to 240 kph, and also of course because of the weather in the winter. However, it is a track that changes a lot, even on a daily basis. The wind direction can make a big difference to set up, like at Silverstone, and the circuit varies a lot with the track temperature: in the pre-season, we generally see quick times early or late in a session, and the circuit then slows down through the middle of the day. We go to Barcelona with a much more optimised baseline set up on the car, but in terms of the fine tuning, we believe as ever that the Friday morning session will help us; however, I think we can recognise that the relative benefits may not be as great as at some of the other circuits.

Q: Are there any new developments for the R23?

PS: We will be running a few new developments in Spain. As always, we will have some small aerodynamic gains from the wind tunnel, which represent improvements in efficiency. Our work at Silverstone last week was also productive: as a result, we will be running new front suspension geometry, which we found to be very good, as well as a new rear tyre construction which was of particular benefit.

Q: Overall, what level of competitiveness do you expect in Barcelona?

PS: Certainly, we were pretty quick there in winter testing, although it is always hard to assess times from the winter with any degree of certainty. The majority of our testing was done with the old bodywork and we only ran the new package, which is significantly more efficient, for one day, during which it seemed a good step forward. Based on the winter and our performances in the first four races, I think we can certainly expect to be competitive there, and definitely more so than we were in Imola.

The Engineer's Eye by Pat Symonds

Barcelona is a circuit where aerodynamic efficiency pays off more than most: the fundamentals of the car have to be right in order to go quickly, and that comes down to the work in the design office and wind tunnel rather than engineering on the day. An efficient car will be quick, and if itms not, it wonmt: there is no avoiding that ground rule.

The circuit has a big mix of corners, and we have to pay attention to the carms balance all the way through these. Furthermore, we see some of the highest tyre usage of any circuit we visit: the specific energy put into the tyres, which is essentially the work they have to do, is enormous, and comparable to what we see at Silverstone. This comes down to two factors: firstly, the abrasiveness of the circuit, and secondly, the track layout q a corner like Turn 3 puts a massive loading on the tyres. For example, compared to Imola over one lap, the outside front tyre is working 83% harder, and the rear nearly 50% harder.

As a result, we have to set the car up to protect the tyres. In a corner such as Turn 3, this means we have to minimise understeer to reduce the heat buildup and the loads, and we also have to protect the rear tyres on the exit of the slow corners by minimising wheelspin. In spite of these measures, however, the tyre degradation remains extremely high: Barcelona is an extremely tough test for the tyres.

The other notable feature to take into account is the main straight, which is about one kilometre long and sees terminal speeds of around 315 kph. In fact, these terminal speeds are not actually that high: the rest of the circuit is so demanding that we donmt tend to run particularly low downforce levels.

Also, the final corner (Turn 13) is pretty quick, at around 225 kph; this means you need good downforce levels to get through it fast and maintain your speed down the straight. Although we are careful to protect our speed, it is not actually that easy a circuit to overtake on, primarily because it is so difficult to follow another car through this final corner. The importance of aerodynamic performance in Turn 13 means that as soon as a driver is in the wake of the car in front, he loses downforce through the corner, and therefore loses speed down the straight; or alternatively, he drops back to maintain good aero performance, but then is not close enough to pass. It is a bit of a Catch 22 situation!

Engine Preview with Denis Chevrier

Barcelona is the circuit where all the teams, apart from Ferrari, cover the most miles in testing during the year.

Montmelo is characterised by fast corners leading on to long straights. As usual, Denis Chevrier, Head of Engine Operations for the Renault F1 Team, gave us a few insights into the nature of the circuitV

"This track offers very few unknowns, as the teams are always using it for testing. It's a circuit without any real slow corners, and where the cars' speed through the fast corners is a key factor," reveals Denis. "On the main straight, the cars exceed 315 km/h, which brings with it a high average engine speed, and is amongst the hardest of the season. The engines spend 58% of the lap at full throttle, and the longest consecutive period is 14 seconds. The keys to a good performance are a powerful engine and good aerodynamics."


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Series Formula 1
Drivers Mike Gascoyne
Teams Ferrari