The Circuit de Catalunya - the technical requirements 27 Apr 2008
The Circuit de Catalunya near Barcelona is one that every Formula One team knows well from the thousands of kilometres of testing carried out there over the winter. Few venues offer such a variety of medium and high-speed corners and it is widely acknowledged as the definitive aero circuit that provides a stern test of a Formula One car. With few big braking zones and so many high-speed corners, overtaking remains extremely difficult and a good qualifying performance and sensible strategy are paramount for a successful weekend. Renault, on improved form here ahead of Sundays Spanish Grand Prix, describe how they tackle the tracks distinctive requirements
Aerodynamic efficiency is always a key factor at Barcelona, although the introduction of the new chicane last year has replaced on of the most critical high-speed parts of the lap and means the track is not as demanding as it once was. Even so, the circuit remains the ultimate test of a car's aero package and teams will run with high downforce levels to ensure competitiveness over the whole lap.
With the suspension we have to find the best compromise to give the drivers a well balanced and responsive car. This means we will use relatively 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 slower corners. This will be especially important this year with the removal of traction control. Ride height is also an important parameter to consider as generally we can run the car quite low in order to gain maximum aerodynamic performance.
Barcelona is not generally thought of as an 'engine circuit' as the engine is not under particular stress as any point and only 62 percent of the lap is spent on full throttle. There are relatively few hard acceleration zones from low revs as the engine spends most of the lap accelerating from the middle of the rev range. As such, the priority is for the power delivery to be progressive and driveable in order to maintain the best handling balance, and limit tyre wear.
Barcelona is well known for being a demanding on tyre wear because it includes so many long, high-speed corners and has a fairly abrasive track surface. The tyres are therefore under high loadings, particularly the front left which has to work hard in the quick right-hand corners such as Turns Three and Nine. As a result Bridgestone will supply hard and medium compound tyres for the weekend, and the team will need to pay close attention to the wear and degradation during free practice to determine which compound to run the majority of the race with.