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The drivers' predictions for Barcelona 04 May 2005

Nick Heidfeld (GER) Williams.
Formula One World Championship, Rd4, San Marino Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Imola, Italy, 23 April 2005 Fernando Alonso (ESP) Renault.
Formula One World Championship, Rd4, San Marino Grand Prix, Practice, Imola, Italy, 22 April 2005 Takuma Sato (JPN) BAR.
Formula One World Championship, Rd4, San Marino Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Imola, Italy, 23 April 2005 Michael Schumacher (GER) Ferrari.
Formula One World Championship, Rd4, San Marino Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Imola, Italy, 23 April 2005

Who is expecting what this weekend in Spain...

Most of the drivers are highly familiar with Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya because it hosts so much testing. However, that doesn’t mean it isn’t a challenge - quite the opposite in fact - which is precisely why so much development work is done there...

Nick Heidfeld, Williams
2004 Qualifying - 15th, 2004 Race - DNF

“I am looking forward to racing in Barcelona. It's a very technical circuit and it's quite difficult to drive there, but everybody, the teams and the drivers, know it very well as we do a lot of testing there. They laid new tarmac over the winter which changed the circuit quite a lot so it will be very different from last year, especially as far as the tyres are concerned. Still, I think we should be in reasonable shape.”

Mark Webber, Williams
2004 Qualifying - 9th, 2004 Race - 12th

“We do a huge amount of testing at Barcelona throughout the year so all the teams know the venue particularly well. I like the track and so really hope we'll be able to collect some good points there. I think there's going to be a special atmosphere at the Spanish Grand Prix this year because Fernando Alonso is leading the Championship. It's fantastic for Formula One to see so many people so passionate about this sport in that part of the world!”

Jacques Villeneuve, Sauber
2004 Qualifying - NA, 2004 Race - NA

"Barcelona has some long and fast corners so the cars have to be set-up very precisely. It is difficult to overtake on this track because the braking zones are quite short. Physically, it is demanding on the neck due to these fast corners and the high G-forces. However, there is always a good crowd there and it is a pleasant circuit to drive - you can really have fun if you can attack.

"I had a difficult test recently in Barcelona, but we didn't have the new aero package then and as we showed at Imola, that really has made a big difference to the performance of the Sauber Petronas C24. For sure it will also help us in Barcelona this weekend, but a lot will depend on how quickly we will be able find the right set-up. I had more freedom to set the car up the way I like in Imola, and was really pleased with my race there, so I am hoping all of that will carry over in Spain. Scoring three points has helped a lot and has relieved some of the pressure from the first three races. After the way the car went in Imola, I can't wait to get to Barcelona."

Felipe Massa, Sauber
2004 Qualifying - 17th, 2004 Race - 9th

"I am really looking forward to Barcelona! I had a good test there recently, albeit not necessarily in terms of pure lap time, and that was without the new aero package that gave us such a significant step forward at Imola.

"We need further to improve on this type of circuit, which has historically not always suited us as well as, say, Imola and Bahrain. We need more work to improve the car in fast corners, but the new aero package has really helped so I am encouraged.

"I like the circuit. The times can be funny because it is always faster in the morning. The wide variety of corners means you have to compromise on car set-up but it's fun to drive there. If your car goes well there, generally it will go well anywhere."

Jenson Button, BAR
2004 Qualifying - 14th, 2004 Race - 8th

"Barcelona is a circuit which I have always enjoyed driving at. It's very fast flowing and seems to be a race that we have always done well at. Following our test there at the beginning of April, I hold the unofficial lap record so the car is obviously in good form. We've been testing in Mugello this week, which is a similar type of circuit to Barcelona in that they are both very fast. We've been quick in testing so are positive that the team can go to Barcelona next weekend and get a good result."

Takuma Sato, BAR
2004 Qualifying - 3rd, 2004 Race - 5th

"Barcelona is one of the team's favourite circuits because for two consecutive years we have held the lap record - which is something very special. I always enjoy driving there as it is a high-speed and challenging circuit. We take the very high-speed turns at over 250kms, putting nearly 4.5G on the body, which is a great feeling in an F1 car. After re-surfacing in January, the track was initially 20 seconds a lap slower, however it seems to have improved now and we were able to do some useful development work at the recent test there. Unfortunately off-line is still quite slippery, and we are not sure how much overtaking will be possible during the race, so Qualifying will be a great challenge. I am really looking forward to it, especially following our great result in Imola and I believe that it will be another very close Grand Prix weekend.

"Barcelona is a very historic city and I have been lucky to visit it a few times. It is interesting to see the architecture, eat lots of good food and see all of the monuments, but most importantly it is the venue of a great Grand Prix!"

Fernando Alonso, Renault
2004 Qualifying - 8th, 2004 Race - 4th

“We were certainly slower than Ferrari in Imola, even if we don't know for definite the reasons why, and the whole team has been working very hard to push even more for Barcelona. But I think that Ferrari found very special conditions in San Marino that worked perfectly for them: it is not normal for one car to be so fast compared to every other car in the field, not just ours. Certainly, we are not now fighting the same Ferrari team we saw at the first three races, but I don't think we will be facing the same strength as in Imola either. Hopefully things will be tougher for them this weekend.

“If you look at the results, a Renault has won the first four races of the season, so everything is still there to fight for. Historically, Barcelona has been a much better circuit for the team than Imola, so we have to be confident for this race. But the other teams are very quick, and we all test there so everybody knows the circuit. I think the competition will be very close, even more than we saw in Bahrain or Imola.”

Giancarlo Fisichella, Renault
2004 Qualifying - 12th, 2004 Race - 7th

“It (Barcelona) is a circuit we know really well because we do thousands of kilometres there during the winter in testing, and we pretty much know what set-up we need even before we arrive. It is important to have a very stable balance, because you need to be aggressive with the car and if you don't have that confidence, you really lose a lot of time on the lap. The tyres are worked hard too, and although we will probably start the race with an under-steering car, it will be important to be gentle on the rear tyres because I think by the end of the race, people will be struggling with braking and traction.

“I think the R25 will be quick in Barcelona, really quick. In the last seasons, Renault have always been fast there and already this year in testing, we have been fast on the timed lap and then very consistent on the long runs. Of course, Fernando will have huge support there and that will bring him a boost but I have already seen from testing that while they are supporting him, they also give me a very warm welcome - they want to see me do well too. Things will be quite difficult because I am running early in first qualifying again, but as long as the lap is trouble-free, then I can get into a good grid position for a strong result. It will be important for me to start scoring points again.”

Michael Schumacher, Ferrari
2004 Qualifying - 1st, 2004 Race - 1st

"When it comes to Barcelona, everything depends on finding the right set up for the mix of slow and fast sections. This is not always easy to do as there is often a strong wind and this can play an important role. However, we know the track well as we test on it during winter and so I don't expect too many problems. Renault, given their performances up to now, will naturally start as favourites. However, McLaren Mercedes and Bar Honda have to be taken into consideration. The others will also have to keep an eye on us. I have high hopes that we can go for the win at Barcelona."

Narain Karthikeyan, Jordan
2004 Qualifying - NA, 2004 Race - NA

"Barcelona is a track where traction and aerodynamics play an important role because of the long corners and this is the first circuit I know so far this season; therefore I am particularly keen on racing there. We did a lot of work last week at Silverstone, testing Bridgestone tyres and trying to find a good car set-up for the Spanish Grand Prix so we are expecting a reasonable run."

Tiago Monteiro, Jordan
2004 Qualifying - NA, 2004 Race - NA

"We know Circuit de Catalunya well for having tested there in winter, as this is the case for most of the teams and drivers. However, this does not necessarily mean that it is going to be easy for us. Most of the teams know exactly how to set up the car on this circuit but I am sure it will be an interesting and challenging weekend. We will definitely do our best, try to finish the race and keep up with our good finishing record. I am really looking forward to it and it will be probably crazy with the Fernando Alonso mania."

Robert Doornbos, third driver, Jordan
2004 Qualifying - NA, 2004 Race - NA

"I have already had some experience in Barcelona as I raced there last year in F3000 and I went very well there. Jordan Grand Prix has also been testing there in the winter so they were already able to gather some helpful information. Last week, the team had a positive test at Silverstone and Bridgestone came up with some really promising tyres for Barcelona but also for the forthcoming races. I am really looking forward to this weekend and especially to driving on Friday."

Jarno Trulli, Toyota
2004 Qualifying - 4th, 2004 Race - 3rd

"We have had a great start to the year and I'm delighted to be in second place in the championship going to Barcelona. To perform well there a car needs to have very good aerodynamic performance. The circuit has lots of corners and many of them are relatively high speed. It all means that a lot of the lap is spent in corners and so the car's balance has to be absolutely right. During winter testing we were never extremely quick at Barcelona but we have had substantial aerodynamic revisions since then and I am confident because the car has been more competitive everywhere so far. The track has been resurfaced since last year's race and was quite slippery initially, although I don't expect this will be an issue when more tyre rubber goes down. I think warmer conditions would suit us better."

Ralf Schumacher, Toyota
2004 Qualifying - 6th, 2004 Race - 6th

"We should definitely be more competitive in Spain than we were at Imola. The San Marino Grand Prix was always going to be a tough event for us, and our performance there shows that there is room for improvement. We now have to analyse the data from that race and come up with solutions for circuits that might pose similar problems for us, although Barcelona should not be one of them. The Circuit de Catalunya is a demanding track with four high-speed corners and, because of its situation on a hill, the wind is a major factor. It can be changeable, which makes the track difficult in terms of aerodynamics and gearing. As for the tyres, when we first tested on the new surface it was very smooth and too slippery but now that teams have done more running there, it's fine."

Kimi Raikkonen, McLaren
2004 Qualifying - 13th, 2004 Race - 11th

"After the disappointing end to the last race in San Marino, I am really keen to get back on track and exploit the pace of the MP4-20. We had a positive test last week in Jerez so I'm looking forward to the weekend. The Circuit de Catalunya does see exciting racing, but because of all the quick corners overtaking is quite difficult. You can slipstream down the long start-finish straight and pass under braking into turn one, but it is a very tight turn. The fast corners also play an important role in our tyre choice with Michelin, as they create massive loading and you can have high levels of wear, in particular on the front left."

Juan Pablo Montoya, McLaren
2004 Qualifying - 2nd, 2004 Race - DNF

"I'm obviously extremely pleased to get back behind the wheel again. It's been so frustrating for me to be a spectator and I'm looking forward to the weekend. The Barcelona track is physically demanding because of all the fast corners but I have undergone an extensive rehabilitation programme to build up the muscles in my shoulder so I will be well prepared. The Circuit de Catalunya is a complete circuit in that it has a very fast long straight, quick sweeping corners, tight hairpins, elevation changes, so it keeps you focused all the time."

Pedro de la Rosa, third driver, McLaren
2004 Qualifying - NA, 2004 Race - NA

"It is really great for me to be taking part in the Friday sessions in front of my home crowd. They are always so enthusiastic and I am really looking forward to it. The issues with the track surface at the Circuit de Catalunya earlier this year have been resolved. The circuit now has much better grip and the problems everyone was having with building up the temperature in the tyres due to the surface should no longer be an issue. Although we have completed a number of test days at the Barcelona circuit with the MP4-20 and therefore have a good data set, set-up is always a challenge due to the possible changes of the track temperature."

David Coulthard, Red Bull
2004 Qualifying - 11th, 2004 Race - 12th

"Although this is the circuit we are all supposed to know best because of its popularity for winter testing, I reckon this could be an interesting weekend. The track is now much smoother and less abrasive than it used to be, but it is still going to be very hard on tyres, especially the fronts and whoever can get their car running with a nice aero balance that's kind to the tyres is going to have a good race. Ideally, you want a touch of understeer to look after the tyres, but you also need a stiff enough front end to change direction quickly at the first two turns. With high speed corners leading onto long straights, overtaking is always difficult, which means a good grid position will be important. Although people have taken to describing me as a veteran, it doesn't seem that long ago that I made my F1 debut at this track, back in 1994."

Vitantonio Liuzzi, Red Bull
2004 Qualifying - NA, 2004 Race - NA

"Having completed my first ever F1 race in Imola, I am really looking forward to this weekend, especially as I feel we can be more competitive in Barcelona where the track characteristics should suit our car better. Setting up the car is an interesting challenge here, as you need enough downforce for the high speed corners, without ending up with too much drag down the straights. Everyone should be running a similar pace, so a bit of aggressive driving could make all the difference on Sunday afternoon."

More to follow.