Round five of the 2002 Formula 1 World Championship takes place at the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona, Spain. It is a familiar track to Panasonic Toyota Racing because it was here that the team conducted much of its pre-season test ...
Round five of the 2002 Formula 1 World Championship takes place at the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona, Spain. It is a familiar track to Panasonic Toyota Racing because it was here that the team conducted much of its pre-season test programme.
Following the disappointment of Imola two weeks ago, where Mika Salo and Allan McNish retired early in the race with mechanical failures, the main aim of Panasonic Toyota Racing at the Spanish Grand Prix is to get both of its cars to the finish of the race.
The team completed a three-day test session at Mugello last week, where both Mika and Allan were on hand to drive. Work was carried out on mechanical grip and on the existing aerodynamic package in order to optimise the set up of the TF102 for Barcelona.
Built in 1991, the 4.730-kilometre Circuit de Catalunya is a technically demanding track, comprising a mixture of fast corners, tight hairpins and a long pitstraight that sees the engines at maximum revs for a long period. Added to this, the abrasive asphalt puts tyre wear at a premium.
Mika has raced at Barcelona on six previous occasions, while this will be Allan's first Spanish Grand Prix.
"The last race at Imola was a reminder to everyone at Panasonic Toyota Racing that we still have a long way to go before we can challenge regularly in the midfield. The most important thing for us at this stage is to finish races and for sure we learnt more about the car at the recent Mugello test. Of course performance is important, but we must never sacrifice reliability."
"I expected us to find it harder in Europe, and that was proved at the last race. The car didn't work over the bumps at Imola and, while we have a few modifications for Barcelona, I am expecting another difficult weekend here. We are going to the track that all the teams know best, so any weaknesses are going to be exaggerated."
"I like Barcelona. It's a challenging track and interesting to drive, especially in a Formula 1 car. The TF102 goes quite well around here, but it's a question of where we are relative to the opposition. Now that we are back in Europe, the situation can change from race-to-race because everyone is developing their car at such a pace. I think the most important thing for us is still to find reliability and to finish the race."
Mika Salo on Barcelona: "I am quite familiar with the Catalunya circuit and it is quite a good track to drive. The fast corners are really fast and challenging - especially the last one - and there is a good overtaking opportunity at the end of the pitstraight. Unfortunately due to the number of test days I've done there in my F1 career, it is not one of the most exciting circuits on the calendar. Still, when you are on a hot lap, you get a lot of satisfaction from getting it right. Many of the corners are inter-linked, which punishes mistakes, and there is a good flow to the lap. The surface is very bumpy, however; the ripples result in the car constantly moving up and down."