Spanish GP Williams preview

The Grand Prix teams now head towards Spain for the fifth round of the Championship and the second in Europe. Although the BMW WilliamsF1 Team knows it is expected to do well on the strength of the Imola result, it also realises just how difficult...

The Grand Prix teams now head towards Spain for the fifth round of the Championship and the second in Europe. Although the BMW WilliamsF1 Team knows it is expected to do well on the strength of the Imola result, it also realises just how difficult the race will be. Barcelona is a track where the team has spent many days testing since the end of last season and these days have seen mixed results. Also this race sees the re-introduction of traction control after it was banned at the end of the '93 season.

Ralf Schumacher
"Barcelona is a combination of fast and slow corners so is quite interesting and demanding. Tyre wear can be a problem there. Last year I finished fourth and in '99 fifth, so this shows that normally it is a circuit that suits me. It is difficult to predict where we are standing, because we had some very good tests there and then others that were not so promising. We still have some work to do to improve our traction control. All in all we just have to wait and see what will happen."

Juan Pablo Montoya
"Barcelona has been a good track for me so far. I have raced there before in '98 in Formula 3000 and I won. We just have to see what happens now. I think it will be quite a tough race to be honest. During testing in the beginning in December and January we were really strong there, but for the last few tests we have done the car doesn't seem to have been working quite as well. I am sure when we get there we will figure it out and hopefully be competitive. It will be quite interesting. For me I am really looking forward to getting to the end of a race to score some points."

Patrick Head
The WilliamsF1 Technical Director gives an explanation of the new software changes being introduced in Spain. "Barcelona sees the new regulations that permit significantly more management of the engine, gearbox, differential and clutch and this will permit traction control, which will be conducted by different teams in different ways. They will be looking to reduce the power of the engine in response to sensed wheel spin. Some may be using ignition cutting, some may be using ignition retards, some may be using throttle closure, there are a number of different ways, or a combination of ways of achieving an end result. It would certainly be very significant if the qualifying or race are wet, or run on a damp track. Probably of less importance if the race and qualifying are dry, but certainly there will be many tracks this year where it will be a deciding factor. As far as the clutch is concerned people will be using automatic starts, although the trigger for the starts will need to come from the driver. He will need to respond to the lights going out and give a command through whatever mechanism to initiate the start. The diff control is probably not hugely significant, but it gives a little more freedom to control the differential to assist the handling of the car. Being able to fully automate the gearbox probably won't make a great deal of difference, but will just mean that instead of the driver responding to lights on the dashboard, telling him when to change gear, it will change up automatically and change down automatically."

Dr. Mario Theissen (BMW Motorsport Director)
"For Barcelona the major change is the introduction of traction and launch control. Although Ralf demonstrated in Imola that a manual start can be perfect, we decided to continue with the development of traction and launch control. As Patrick explains, different approaches can and will be taken and it remains to be seen which one is the best. We are all very busy at the moment and I am not sure if all the teams will have their optimised solutions ready for Barcelona. Generally we are very satisfied with the introduction of traction and launch control. The reasons for this are first that all the rumours about different interpretation of the rules will stop, and second because BMW has always been a pioneer in automotive electronics. We are very happy to be able to demonstrate our competence in this field in Formula One as well."

* The 65-lap Spanish Grand Prix gets underway at Barcelona (Spain) at 14:00 local time (12:00 GMT) on Sunday 29th of April. A total race distance of 307.323km (191 miles) will be covered at the Catalunya Circuit (4.728 km - 2.938 miles) where Giancarlo Fisichella holds the lap record of 1m22.242s (Jordan Peugeot - 1997). The 2000 race winner was world champion Mika Hakkinen (McLaren Mercedes).


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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Juan Pablo Montoya
Teams Mercedes , McLaren , Williams , Jordan