Barcelona - the technical requirements 12 May 2006
Barcelona is a circuit that every Formula One team knows well as they complete thousands of kilometres there in testing throughout the season. The mix of high-speed corners, a very long straight and an abrasive track surface, makes the Circuit de Catalunya a uniquely complete circuit. Finding the right set-up compromise is always a tricky business at the Spanish Grand Prix, as the Renault team explain...
Aerodynamics: Aerodynamic efficiency is always a key factor at this circuit. Barcelona offers every type of corner in its layout, and the straights are invariably preceded by quick corners. This means the team actually runs quite high downforce levels, in spite of the long main straight, as it is important to get good exit speed from these corners. That, ultimately, is what conditions the car's speed on the main straight. That means this a race where we use a high downforce set-up.
Suspension: When we look at suspension settings, we have to find the best compromise to give the drivers a well-balanced, responsive car. This means we will use relative stiff settings at the front of the car to get a good change of direction, while the rear will be slightly softer in order to get the best possible traction out of the slow corners. Ride height is also an important parameter to consider - generally we can run the car quite low, which allows optimum aerodynamic performance.
Tyres: The Circuit de Catalunya is well known for being a particularly tough circuit, particularly because it includes so many long, high-speed corners. These put the tyres under high loadings, and particularly the front left tyre which has to work very hard in all the quick corners. We will therefore pay particular attention to tyre degradation when making our choice, and we may alter settings such as camber angles to limit tyre wear if necessary.
Performance: Barcelona is not generally thought of as an engine circuit as the engine is not under particular stress at any point. There are relatively few hard accelerations from low revs, and the main priority is for the power delivery to be progressive and driveable in order to maintain the best handling balance, and limit tyre wear. 69 percent of the lap is spent at full throttle.
Gearbox: Given the length of the main straight at this circuit, the choice of gear ratios is quite tricky. In fact, for top gear we have to contend with possible over-revving if the wind blows down the main straight, or if the driver is in a competitor's slipstream. Similarly, a headwind can cost performance. Choosing the final drive is an important part of the work during the practice sessions.