Spanish GP: Williams preview

The Circuit de Catalunya, home of the Spanish Grand Prix, presents one of the more demanding Grand Prix venues of the 2003 season. Despite hosting a large proportion of the season's Formula One testing activities, the vagaries of localised weather...

The Circuit de Catalunya, home of the Spanish Grand Prix, presents one of the more demanding Grand Prix venues of the 2003 season. Despite hosting a large proportion of the season's Formula One testing activities, the vagaries of localised weather conditions, especially the wind, makes the circuit a real set-up challenge for race engineers and drivers alike.

The BMW WilliamsF1 Team has on occasions suffered as a consequence of the complex set-up demands of the track. However, in recent years the team has performed well on race day, and approaches the forthcoming race confidently, buoyed in particular by Ralf Schumacher's unbeaten testing times set recently on March 27 and 28 at the Barcelona circuit.

Ralf Schumacher:

"Naturally, following the loss of my mother last weekend, I am having a hard time at the moment. I therefore appreciate the support and consideration both the fans and the media have shown myself and Michael at this difficult time. Regarding the next Grand Prix, Barcelona is a demanding circuit with four high speed corners and changeable wind conditions; the track is on a hill so considerable pressure is placed on the aerodynamics of the car and the tyres. As a result, we spend a considerable amount of time testing at Barcelona."

"Finding the optimum balance of the car is one of the most difficult tasks for us but, with the intense development of our chassis and the improvements made on the aero side, I am fairly optimistic that our performance will be better than in recent races."

Juan Pablo Montoya:

"The Circuit de Catalunya is the track where we have completed the most amount of testing this year. That doesn't mean it is one of my favourite tracks though. However, in 1998, when I was racing in F3000, I won there and in the past two years with the BMW WilliamsF1 Team I achieved two second places; definitely a better result than we expected at the time."

"The track is very demanding in terms of set-up of the car because it presents a wide variety of situations but we are going to run the aerodynamic improvements we had in Imola, so we should feel more confident this time. I think that, in most of the races so far this season, we have not achieved what we should have done so I hope our fortunes change in Barcelona."

Sam Michael (Chief Operations Engineer, WilliamsF1):

"At Imola the car was quite competitive, particularly helped by recent contributions from the aero department, however we let ourselves down with simple driver errors and crew problems in the pit stops. The pitstop crew is fast as they have shown regularly over the last two seasons. Even after the problems on Sunday, Ralf had the fastest pitstop time for the race, and we have put corrections in place for the problems we experienced."

"We spent this week testing at Silverstone focusing on chassis development and we feel we have made some progress in that department, despite Juan Pablo's accident on day two. Fortunately he's fine and Marc ran on the last day to finish off the test programme. Rain hampered the schedule but it enabled us to confirm a recent improvement in the performance of the wet tyre."

"Barcelona is a challenging circuit for both the engineers and drivers to find a well balanced set up. We obviously spend a lot of time here during winter testing, but the changeable conditions mean that you are still experimenting with the setup during race weekend. With four high speed corners, the tyres need to be harder than usual to cope with the high degradation and this puts a large emphasis on aerodynamic efficiency. As at the last GP, strategy could easily be 2 or 3 stops and with overtaking so difficult here a good grid position is essential."

Mario Theissen (BMW Motorsport Director):

"To date, Barcelona has proved a challenge for us, even though Juan Pablo has finished second in the past two years here. The demands on the engine are medium, and the amount of the lap at full throttle is average for the season. The power of the BMW P83 has been clearly demonstrated on the long straights and, so far, we have had no technical problems with the engine."

"Our latest test at the Circuit de Catalunya at the end of March was encouraging; we have achieved impressive results in terms of chassis, engine and tyre development, all of which has been mirrored in the drivers' times in testing and our performance at Imola. Our performance during qualifying has also improved but we need to translate that to the races and get some podium finishes. We are looking forward to Barcelona and hope to achieve a positive result."

-williams-

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Juan Pablo Montoya
Teams Williams