The 4.73km Catalonian home of the Spanish Grand Prix provides the setting for one of the more testing races of the Formula One season. Despite being the primary testing venue for most teams, it is a track that demands continual revision of set-up...
The 4.73km Catalonian home of the Spanish Grand Prix provides the setting for one of the more testing races of the Formula One season. Despite being the primary testing venue for most teams, it is a track that demands continual revision of set-up due to the changing weather and particularly, prevailing wind conditions on the exposed circuit that can affect the consistency of aerodynamic performance.
Notwithstanding the challenge Barcelona presents, WilliamsF1 has enjoyed good fortunes since the race moved to the Circuit de Catalunya in 1991. In eleven races they have claimed five wins, complemented by three visits to the second or third step of the podium. Since the start of the partnership between WilliamsF1 and BMW, the team's most successful result in Spain was last season's performance when Juan Pablo Montoya claimed second place when a fortunate Michael Schumacher was victorious after Mika Hakkinen's late retirement.
"Even though I would have really enjoyed winning at Imola last weekend, my frustration at the outcome was short-lived and my confidence for the next race is good. At Silverstone we have tested some new bits on the car and I believe we are now well prepared for Barcelona."
Barcelona is a very difficult track to approach. It shows instantly who is good and who is not. We were quite competitive in the early season test, but we now need to improve to catch up with the new Ferrari.
Juan Pablo Montoya:
"At Barcelona last season I finished my first race in Formula One and claimed my first points for the BMW WilliamsF1 Team. As a result, I have a very positive memory of the circuit, especially as it took until my fifth race to get to the finish and I ended up doing it on a track where we weren't especially competitive - so let's see how it goes this year."
"With the next race at a track where we test at most often after Silverstone, I know the Circuit de Catalunya quite well. It's not one of my favourite tracks, in spite of being a quick circuit. But I spend quite a lot of my leisure time in Spain and I like the country and culture very much, so that makes up for it!"
Sam Michael (Chief Operations Engineer, WilliamsF1):
"Barcelona is one of the most challenging circuits for the engineers and drivers to find a well balanced set-up. We obviously spend a lot of time there during winter testing, but the changeable conditions mean that you are still experimenting with the set-up during the race weekend. With four high speed corners, the tyres need to be harder than usual to cope with the high degradation, and this puts an emphasis on aerodynamic efficiency."
"As the last Grand Prix, strategy is usually multi-stop and the race can tend to be decided by a combination of qualifying and pitstop performance because overtaking is extremely difficult. Michelin have recently made good progress on tyre compounds for this type of circuit, so we are looking forward to see how they perform during a race weekend."
Mario Theissen (BMW Motorsport Direktor):
"With their new car, Ferrari has raised the benchmark and by doing so they have motivated us even more to push our development programme further. We have prepared ourselves well for the next race with a two car test at Silverstone supplemented by work on the dynos in Munich. Even though Barcelona is not one of the circuits we have especially high hopes for, I regard us as being well prepared for what is coming later this season."
"We are more than happy with the result of the first four races. The fact that we are fighting Ferrari in the championship is more than we expected. We are happy to be the most reliable team so far this season. Nobody has recorded more race laps than our drivers and the only competitive distance we have not completed this season was as a result of Ralf's accident in Australia. So early in a season, this degree of reliability is pleasing."
The Race: The 65 lap/307km race commences at 1400hrs local, 1200hrs UTC and 1300hrs BST. Typically the race has been run to a two stop strategy, with the first pit window between laps 20 and 25 and the second from around lap 40.
Last year's pole sitter and victor, Michael Schumacher is the current lap record holder at 1.21.151. Michael Schumacher's 2001 pole time of 1.18.201is anticipated to bettered by around 1.4s to 1.16.800, getting close to Jacques Villeneuve's 1997 record pole of 1.16.525.