This weekend Formula One returns to the Circuit de Catalunya, a track that AT&T Williams knows well, having raced here every year since 1991 and completed many thousands of kilometres of testing. The circuit’s long corners are a good test of car stability and aerodynamic performance, and a handful of slow corners towards the end of the lap put an onus on traction.
The most demanding corner on the lap is Turn 3, a long uphill right-hander that is taken almost flat-out. The drivers fight oversteer all the way through it and every time they lift off the throttle, even for a moment, it’s reflected in their lap time. Overtaking is difficult, but that doesn’t worry the Spanish fans. In recent years the circuit has become a shrine to Spanish World Champion Fernando Alonso. New AT&T Williams recruit Pastor Maldonado, a native Spanish-speaker, will no doubt find some support in the crowd as well.
Sam Michael, Technical Director: "Barcelona is a circuit that demands good aero efficiency. It isn’t a track that is hard on brakes and with its long high speed corners, the aero efficiency of the cars can be the biggest performance differentiator. The circuit layout hasn't been favourable for overtaking in the past - however with the tyre degradation and the moveable rear wing it will likely be different this year.
"Since the Turkish Grand Prix, we have been working on our new rear wings that we ran in practice at Istanbul Park and we will have them on both cars again in Barcelona. In addition to that we’ll have new exhaust blown diffusers to test."
Rubens Barrichello: "Barcelona is a great racing track and one that people know the most. It will be interesting to see how much the other teams and drivers have developed since we were there for the final test in March. I hope that we as a team can make a good jump forward in performance with our upgrades in Barcelona. I remain positive that we will."
Pastor Maldonado: "It is going to be a very interesting race as we’ve had more time to develop the car now so we will see what we can do in Barcelona. We have more data as we tested there over the winter, so I think that will make it slightly easier than it’s been at the previous races. I think it will be easier from my point of view as well because I’ve already driven the FW33 there. We will continue to work on the new upgrades to see what a difference they can make. I really like the circuit. I think it is one of the best as it is a very complete, technical track with a good mixture of high and low speed corners. Turn 3 is probably my favourite; it is very long and fast."
From Cosworth’s perspective
The Circuit de Catalunya is well known to teams and drivers as a designated pre-season test venue. Teams arrive at the track with a good understanding of the track’s demands, having accumulated data in the two separate tests earlier this year. As a general rule, the Catalan circuit is not too demanding on engines but units are still put through a decent workout over the course of the lap. Only around 60% of the lap is spent at full throttle, but the 1.047km main straight requires good peak power, while the circuit’s unique flow of corners demands good driveability from the engine and a responsive gearbox.
From Pirelli’s perspective
Barcelona is a track that we know well as we’ve carried out a lot of testing there. We’re expecting the temperatures over the race weekend to be much warmer than they were back in March, when we had the last official test, and this should mean that our tyres will be working well within their operating window. We’re introducing a new evolution of the hard tyre for Barcelona, which should provide all the teams with a little extra durability. We very much hope that this will help Williams to have a strong race in Spain: the team deserves a good result.Source Williams