Spanish GP: Williams preview

The BMW WilliamsF1 Team will travel to Barcelona next week, home of the Spanish Grand Prix, and the fifth round of the 2004 FIA Formula One World Championship. Despite being one of the primary testing venues for the teams, the 4.6 metre circuit ...

The BMW WilliamsF1 Team will travel to Barcelona next week, home of the Spanish Grand Prix, and the fifth round of the 2004 FIA Formula One World Championship. Despite being one of the primary testing venues for the teams, the 4.6 metre circuit provides the backdrop for one of the more challenging races on the calendar. The fickle climate often demands continual set-up changes while the prevailing wind conditions can compromise aerodynamic efficiency.

Having spent the week testing new developments at Silverstone this week, the team are looking forward to the 14th Spanish Grand Prix and re-claiming ground lost in the first four races. Historically, WilliamsF1 have enjoyed good fortune at the Spanish track, having won five out of the thirteen Grands Prix hosted by Catalunya since 1991. Following the formation of the Anglo-German alliance in 2000, the BMW WilliamsF1 Team have enjoyed moderate success in Spain, with Montoya's 2nd places in 2001 and 2002, and are now looking to improve on that success and close the gap to their competitors.

Juan Pablo Montoya:

"Most of the teams spend a lot of time testing at the Barcelona track so the drivers know the circuit like the back of their hand. We are certainly one of those teams, having completed thirteen test days already there this year and covered a total of 10,363 kilometres. Although we regularly run at Barcelona, I wouldn't consider it one of my favourite circuits as it doesn't really suit my driving style. However, I seem to have scored consistently at the Spanish Grand Prix having achieved two second places and one fourth place in the past three years with the team. I also secured an F3000 victory there in 1998, but that was quite a long time ago now!"

"After a fairly disappointing San Marino Grand Prix, I have been trying to relax in order to regain my focus. I've been doing some training but have combined this with golf. The Spanish Grand Prix weekend will start slightly earlier than usual for me, and for some of the other drivers, as we will be playing in a charity tennis match near Barcelona on Thursday morning. I'm hoping this will give me a further boost in preparation for my on-track duties."

Ralf Schumacher:

"Even though we couldn't complete the whole of the scheduled test programme due to the bad weather at Silverstone this week, every single member of the team certainly has the enthusiasm and motivation to improve upon our performance. We tested in Barcelona quite a lot over the winter period so we should be well prepared for the Spanish Grand Prix weekend. I don't think miracles should be expected, but it's clear we are able to fight for podium positions, like we did in Imola, and collecting as many points as possible is the most important thing."

Sam Michael (Chief Operations Engineer, WilliamsF1):

"The team has spent this week testing at Silverstone and has made good progress on set-ups and tyre development under both wet and dry conditions."

"Barcelona is a challenging circuit for the drivers and engineers 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 set-up during the actual race weekend. With four high speed corners, the tyres need to be harder than usual to cope with the high levels of degradation. A large emphasis is therefore placed on aerodynamic efficiency."

"We have made further improvements to the cars since the last Grand Prix, both mechanical and aerodynamic, while Michelin have two good tyre compounds that we have been testing. Combined, these steps should help us in our efforts to return to the front of the field where we obviously want to be competing."

"With the new rules introduced this year, qualifying and strategy go hand in hand. As overtaking is so difficult in Barcelona, it's even more important to hook up a good qualifying lap, find the perfect strategy and get the race start right."

Mario Theissen (BMW Motorsport Director):

"The BMW P84 engine successfully passed another endurance test over the San Marino Grand Prix weekend, most notably in the final laps of the race when Juan Pablo achieved rpm levels on a par with those achieved during qualifying, which enabled him to defend himself against Fernando Alonso's attack. This achievement has underlined the value of the work we've carried out over the last few weeks."

"Our on-going development effort in Munich is focused on achieving maximum revs and output in the second half of the engine's 800-kilometre lifespan, i.e. during the race. We're working on achieving this even whilst in seventh gear, which on some circuits is engaged for more than five seconds at maximum revs. In the past, it was customary to make the top gear longer, by 500 to 1,000 rpm, in order to reduce this continuous load."

"Our recent development strategy is primarily directed at those components which have to sustain high thermal and mechanical loads. We have subsequently developed significant expertise in both design, aided by computer simulation, and in high-precision manufacturing, an advance which stands us in good stead for the single engine rule. For BMW, the Formula One project has once again proved to be an effective foundation as these insights are now filtering into the development of production engines."

"Demand on the engine at Barcelona is average, with a moderate proportion of the lap taken at full throttle. With an 880 metre start/finish straight though, every extra bit of horsepower pays dividends. The BMW WilliamsF1 Team clearly has a significant gap to close to the competition but we will leave no stone unturned in our efforts to achieve this."


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