Spain preview quotes - Red Bull, McLaren, Renault, Force India & more 06 May 2010
After the hard slog of four long-haul races, the European leg of the F1 season kicks off next weekend with the Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona. The Circuit de Catalunya is a venue the teams know well from testing, though racing there is a completely different challenge. The drivers and senior team personnel discuss their prospects
Mark Webber, Red Bull
2009 Qualifying - 5th, 2009 Race - 3rd
"My goal for the Spanish Grand Prix is to taste more champagne. Ive started on the front row of the grid at the last three races, but Ive finished on the podium only once and its time to get another big result. I finished third at Barcelona in 2009 and Im confident that the RB6 will allow me to be competitive this weekend as well. Weve been quick on every type of track so far this year and we have a few updates for this race that should keep us in the hunt. However, the start of the European season usually brings with it lots of technical changes up and down the pit lane and it will be interesting to see how the pecking order is affected this weekend. Im told that Mercedes Grand Prix have a lot of updates on their car here and they arent about to introduce anything that will make it go slower, so I expect them to join Red Bull Racing, Ferrari and McLaren at the front of the pack. Statistically, its more important to start from pole position in Barcelona than it is at Monaco because the last nine Spanish Grands Prix have been won from the pole. When you combine that with the fact that there were only four overtaking manoeuvres after the opening lap last year, qualifying is going to be bloody important on Saturday. Its going to be a question of maximising every run in Q1, Q2 and Q3. If I can start high up on the grid, I have a chance of continuing the recent winning streak enjoyed by Australians in Europe. Neil Robertson won the World Snooker Championship in Sheffield on Monday and Jason Crump kicked off the defence of his Speedway World title with victory in Poland the weekend before. Great job, guys; Ill be doing my best to fly the flag in Spain."
Jenson Button, McLaren
2009 Qualifying - 1st, 2009 Race - 1st
The Spanish Grand Prix is a race I won last year, and I regard it as one of my best victories of the 2009 season. Its a relatively high-speed circuit, and one thats quite enjoyable to drive - provided your car is working properly.
There are some fast corners, like Turn Nine and the final corner, but the majority of the track is made up of pretty long corners where you really need the car to do all the work. Its a circuit that really rewards precision, and punishes aggression. And if youve got a car that wants to understeer, then youre going to have a difficult race!
Fortunately, our car does seem to have a very good neutral balance in the high-speed corners - its probably the most impressive aspect of the car - and we went well during pre-season testing, so I think we go into this weekend feeling pretty well prepared.
Finally, Im looking forward to returning to Europe. Its been an incredibly exciting series of flyaway races, but I think everybody in Formula One looks forward to racing closer to home, back in the sports heartland.
Lewis Hamilton, McLaren
2009 Qualifying - 14th, 2009 Race - 9th
Weve got a couple of fairly significant upgrades coming for this race. And while it would be naïve to think that these will move us up the pecking order - because almost all the teams produce a major bodywork update for Barcelona - were optimistic that theyll once again help us to bridge the gap to the leading cars.
And, of course, weve proved in the past that weve been both extremely capable and prolific at adding performance to the car across the course of the season, so Im hopeful that well be heading into Barcelona in good shape.
If its a dry race, then, realistically, I think its going to be harder for us to be up at the front. As we did in China, well be putting additional emphasis on qualifying; it will be more important than ever in Barcelona as, traditionally, its always been a track where overtaking is very difficult. Given that most cars will only be stopping once, we have a less scope for passing, so a good grid position will be vital here.
Martin Whitmarsh, McLaren team principal
In recent years, weve produced successful cars with inherent performance characteristics that enable them to perform better in slower corners. While we havent overlooked high-speed performance, its not typically been our strongest area - and that might explain our recent loss of form around Barcelonas Circuit de Catalunya.
For 2010, however, we feel we have a car that generally excels in high-speed corners, and while that in itself, isnt enough to suggest a complete reversal of our recent fortunes in Spain, we feel that the useful upgrades were bringing to this race, which include new front and rear wings, will help us consolidate our position among the leaders and, hopefully, enable us to close the gap to the cars at the front.
Despite leading both world championships, we are still working tremendously hard to bring additional performance to MP4-25. That has meant a tireless fortnight of work back at the McLaren Technology Centre, which was only minimally disrupted by the recent air travel problems across Europe.
In addition, Spain will mark the beginning of the European campaign, the return to our home from home in the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes Brand Centre, and the debut of an exciting new visual identity inside the garage, which will feature a completely new look. Its a race were all looking forward to enormously.
Robert Kubica, Renault
2009 Qualifying - 10th, 2009 Race - 11th
Barcelona is the sort of circuit that all the drivers and teams know back to front so Im expecting a very tough battle. All the teams will be very well prepared and usually get close to their potential so its important that we maximise our performance so that we can fight for points in the race. We are not planning to bring any huge updates, but we will keep gradually improving the car, just like we did during the first four races. We have to wait and see how we compare with the others; maybe the order of the teams will be quite different compared to the start of the year.
Vitaly Petrov, Renault
2009 Qualifying - n/a, 2009 Race - n/a
Ive raced there many times in GP2 and we tested in Barcelona over the winter. Its a circuit where all the teams will be well prepared and I expect the gaps between the cars to be very small. We didnt have a very good test there in February, but hopefully the weather and track conditions will be different for the race and that will give us a chance to do better. As a circuit, its technically very difficult and overtaking is almost impossible, which is why qualifying will be very important.
Alan Permane, Renault chief race engineer
Its true that we didnt look great during the Barcelona test and completed limited mileage, but the issues we had during the test were not circuit-specific and Ive no concerns about going back there. Barcelona is one of those circuits where you pay a heavy penalty if youre lacking aero efficiency, but weve added an enormous amount of downforce to the car since winter testing, so we shouldnt be out of position. We wont run the same set-up we used during the test because the car has evolved since then and the races have taught us a lot about how to get the most from it. Barcelona certainly used to be the ultimate test, but since they slowed down the final sector, its not quite as aero-dependent as it used to be. However, the first part of the lap remains very high-speed, and Turns Three and Nine are quick, challenging corners where good aero performance counts. Even Turns Four, Five and Seven are relatively quick corners by the standards of most circuits and, if your car has aero deficiencies, theres nowhere to hide.
Adrian Sutil, Force India
2009 Qualifying - 19th, 2009 Race - DNF
It's always a nice feeling to get back to Europe. It's been a hard start to the year with the four flyaway races, but it's not going to be easy now with the first European double header and then the Turkish Grand Prix not that far away. But Spain is always a great place to open the European season. We know it well from the winter testing programme but it's still a challenge with the mix of high speed and technical corners. I quite like it and am looking forward to scoring points there for the first time in my career.
We have some aerodynamic improvements all over the car, with refinements to the front wing and bargeboard area, plus some mechanical changes aimed at improving lower speed corner performance. I think this will put us in quite good shape for Spain and see us maintaining our position. Of course you don't know what the others are doing but the development race is so tight now, everybody is at a point where it's hard to find every single tenth. We've looked very competitive in the first four races and I don't see why that should change. The feeling in the team is positive, we've got a good plan, I feel very confident and comfortable in where we are and where we are going. Q3 and points is now the normal aim for us and we're disappointed if we don't get them.
Vitantonio Liuzzi, Force India
2009 Qualifying - n/a, 2009 Race - n/a
Every race has its own story and in China everything went wrong, but we always thought we could be very strong for the Barcelona race. In the final winter test we had a good pace, I like the track and the car seems to fit the track characteristics well now. For me personally, I have turned the page after China and am really looking forward to the European season where I want to get back into the points at each round.
Paul di Resta, Force India third driver
I'll be replacing Adrian (for Friday practice) this time out and I'm really looking forward to it. Barcelona isn't a track I know, in fact the only European track I know well is Hockenheim, but I have been in the simulator and will do the usual preparations on Thursday and before the session so it should not be a problem to get up to speed. Again I'll be trying to focus on learning, getting into the environment and hopefully with the past three sessions under my belt, giving some genuinely useful feedback to the programme.
It's starting to get very busy now for me with races just about every weekend! After China I flew straight to Germany for the first round of the DTM championship in Hockenheim. It was an OK weekend, I got fourth in the first race, which is a good start to the year. But it's all good, positive stress and I don't think too much ahead, I just try to focus on what I am doing at the time and get the most out of that particular car. I didn't find it too difficult to switch when I got back in the DTM car for the first time, but let's see how it goes when I get back into Spain! As they are so different I don't anticipate any problems, it's just a really good opportunity to drive two cars that are so competitive.
Dr Vijay Mallya, Force India team principal
(Technical chief) Mark (Smith) and his team have a solid programme of developments throughout the first half of the season, some of which will come in Spain. The simulations we've been doing back in the factory are very positive and I'm sure we will be able to maintain the form we have shown before and maybe even move further up the field. The other teams are not sleeping I am sure, and we'll see how much everyone has moved forward in Barcelona, but based on the way the team is working together at the factory and wind tunnel and then the superb implementation we see at the track I think we'll have an edge.
Timo Glock, Virgin
2009 Qualifying - 6th, 2009 Race - 10th
The last few weeks havent exactly gone according to plan thanks to the Icelandic volcano, but what this has enabled us to do is draw a line under the disappointment of Shanghai and focus on better things ahead. We have taken a good hard look at the first four races and now have a very clear picture of where things have gone well for us and where we need to improve. Its a shame that we couldnt bring two new modified chassis to Spain, because we would have had two sets of data to work from, but we will work with what we have and hope that it brings the kind of results we are hoping for. Most of the drivers know this track really well, because were all used to testing and racing here so often in the past. To have a really quick lap here you need to have a car with good downforce as you need to have the confidence to commit to the very high speed corners. I have done some work in the simulator in preparation for this race and we have a good idea of what to expect from the modified chassis, so Im looking forward to seeing how we shape up when we hit the track in Barcelona this week.
Lucas di Grassi, Virgin
2009 Qualifying - n/a, 2009 Race - n/a
Race day was tough for us in China, but we have to stay focused on what we achieved prior to that and the way we have been improving through the race weekends. We had been getting on top of our reliability problems, so we expect Spain to be a new chapter for us. I was one of the lucky ones after Shanghai - I got out on the Monday after the race and headed to Brazil. I spent some good time with family and friends and worked on my fitness. I will do some work on the simulator this week before heading out to Barcelona. This is a track I know from racing in other formulae - in particular GP2. Its a nice challenge for a driver and though Im disappointed that I will be driving the previous specification chassis, as we didnt have enough time to modify two cars, I hope with all the work weve been doing to make our race weekends go more smoothly we can have a positive European debut.
John Booth, Virgin team principal
What should have been a useful three-week break in the calendar, and an opportunity to ensure we are fully prepared for the European season, turned into something of a race against time thanks to the fallout from The Volcano. It took up to five days after the Chinese Grand Prix before the entire team were back in England, so we had to rush headlong into preparations for Spain. The planned modifications to the chassis were always going to be our most significant development, but they were also the tip of the iceberg in terms of what we will bring to Barcelona. As a new team we will be using new trucks and a new motorhome for the first time and on top of that we moved into our new race preparation facility while the team were stranded in China, so we certainly had a lot going on for us when we finally made it home. Nonetheless, the team have done an admirable job and well be heading to Spain this week full of optimism for the next phase of our debut season.
Nick Wirth, Virgin technical director
Since Shanghai, we have conducted an extensive investigation into the failures that halted the obvious progress the team has been making since its debut. That investigation has highlighted a number of issues that are currently being addressed by the race team, Wirth Research and our key suppliers and our continuing aim is to put an end to the reliability issues that have dominated our Grand Prix debut. Having worked tirelessly to prepare the new car for the race, including its successful rehomologation, it is a bitter pill to swallow that we are unable to complete the second car due to the volcanic delays. Running two fundamentally different specification cars at Barcelona will certainly challenge the team, but as the reliability fixes apply to both specifications, well keep our heads down and focus solely on getting both cars to the chequered flag.
Jaime Alguersuari, Toro Rosso
2009 Qualifying - n/a, 2009 Race - n/a
Every time I have raced here it is has been special as it is my home track and there is plenty of support for me, making for a great atmosphere. This will be the first time I race in the Spanish Grand Prix and I expect there will be a lot of my friends and fans coming to watch, also because there are several Spanish drivers on the grid this year. One important factor is that this is the first track of the season I have driven on before, so that should make life easier for me.
It is just one more round of the championship. However, as a home race, all the support from the fans will make a slight difference, in the same way that football teams have an advantage playing a Home match. But in the way we will go about doing our work, it will be the same as all the others.
Catalunya is a very nice track as it has a good variety of slow, medium and high speed corners and it is very technical. Corners like the blind Turn 7 are very exciting and there are some overtaking opportunities, especially the first corner, as long as you get a good run out of the final turn. The circuit layout tests every aspect of a cars performance, aero, mechanical, engine, so if the STR5 works well here, it will be a good sign for the rest of the year.
Sebastien Buemi, Toro Rosso
2009 Qualifying - 15th, 2009 Race - DNF
The first four races have been very difficult to deal with, especially when in three of them I have been knocked out by other drivers accidents. Therefore I hope Barcelona will be a turning point with an improvement in my situation. I believe in terms of theoretical pace, the car is certainly capable of putting us just outside the top ten, making us the sixth team, whereas currently we are eighth in the championship. We have had difficulties, but on a positive note the car is definitely competitive and I am reasonably confident that in the coming races we will be able to score points. Not only does the car show potential, but also the team is working very hard and doing a good job. You also need a bit of luck in Formula One, so I hope this is the weekend when my luck will change for the better and I can have a trouble-free weekend, with a good result waiting at the end of it. I believe I am capable of doing much better, so I am very much looking forward to Barcelona, a track I know well, where I am convinced we can have a good race.
Franz Tost, Toro Rosso team principal
Our technical department is working very hard and we will deliver some updates over the forthcoming races and I believe we can step up in terms of our performance level. Specifically for the Spanish Grand Prix, we will introduce new brake ducts and a new engine cover. In the last couple of races we already saw an improvement in our package, so in Barcelona, I would hope that if we do everything perfectly, we could get at least one driver through into Qualifying 3 for the first time this season, or if not, then at least very close to tenth on the grid, so that more points has to be a realistic target for us this weekend. Both drivers tested here during the winter and for Jaime specifically, it is his home race, on the first track of the year that is not new to him, where he has competed on a regular basis in the lower formulae.
Bruno Senna, HRT
2009 Qualifying - n/a, 2009 Race - n/a
"I'm looking forward to the Spanish Grand Prix. Barcelona is one of my favorite tracks and I have a good record on it and good memories. I completed my first F1 test here with Honda. And prior to that, every time I raced in Montmelo, I won or I was on the podium. I am certain that I will enjoy Barcelona again although it is a very physical track with high speed corners where it is hard to find the perfect lap. The newly introduced last chicane is also very technical. So let's build on our past results."
Karun Chandhok, HRT
2009 Qualifying - n/a, 2009 Race - n/a
"I am looking forward to racing again after the extended break. I really enjoy driving here as the circuit is a real challenge with a complete mix of high speed and slower technical sections. Unlike the other teams we did not have a chance to test the car in the pre-season but we have couple of updates for the car this weekend that should give us a clearer picture for the season ahead. The team is highly motivated for our home race and together we are looking forward to developing the car for the rest of the season.
Colin Kolles, HRT team principal
"We reached our next goal with our two cars making it to the finish again in China on our fourth ever race weekend. We have used the time since China to work on the car and to introduce new parts. We hope to understand the car better and need to improve the performance as well as hit a new target and finish again with both cars."
Hirohide Hamashima, Bridgestone director of motorsport tyre development
"The Circuit de Catalunya is a good indicator of overall car balance and a car which does well here should do well at any track. We expect the weather to be much warmer than when we last visited Barcelona in February for the final pre-season test and we hope we don't see the snow that the circuit experienced in March! The warmer temperatures make a difference to engine power, aerodynamics, tyre grip and so on, so there is a lot to consider. We often see major car upgrades as this is the first European race of the season after the first four flyaway races. The cars have already evolved a lot so it will be interesting to see the differences from when we were here before the season started. The track surface is in the middle range in terms of abrasion and roughness and we will bring our hard and soft Bridgestone Potenzas. The circuit layout is tough on the front left tyre and we expect to see graining on this tyre."
Cosworth, engine suppliers to Williams, Lotus, Virgin & HRT
The Circuit de Catalunya is a track that is well known to teams and drivers, courtesy of its long-standing popularity as a winter testing destination. It was one of the three Spanish tracks used for pre-season preparations during February and all Cosworth-powered teams, apart from Hispania Racing, were able to gather a useful array of data from the four-day test. The circuit puts every aspect of the car package to the test, making it something of a benchmark for performance. It is not too demanding on engines, but it still gives the unit a thorough workout. Only around 60% of the lap is spent at full throttle, but the 1.047km main straight requires good peak power, while the circuits unique flow of corners demands good driveability from the engine and a responsive gearbox. On the chassis side, the circuit offers one of the biggest technical challenges of the season with the faster corners rewarding good aerodynamic efficiency. After the first four flyaway races of the year, all teams are expected to field significantly upgraded packages for the Spanish Grand Prix - in spite of the many volcano-related delays in returning from China!
Heikki Kovalainen, Lotus
2009 Qualifying - 18th, 2009 Race - DNF
Its always good to get to Barcelona as its where most of the teams bring their first big updates. Its a very fast track and all the teams spend a lot of time there in pre-season, so we know it very well, but its the complete opposite to racing in Monte Carlo. In Barcelona there are more chances to overtake but nowhere else has the same glamour or prestige as Monaco. Its so busy there on track theres no time to relax, and there are no run off areas so you pay heavily for any mistakes. I really like street circuits - you are rewarded for good car control so Im looking forward to getting on track and seeing what steps forward weve taken with the updates.
Jarno Trulli, Lotus
2009 Qualifying - 7th, 2009 Race - DNF
I made it back home from China with a number of the other drivers, but we got back safely and Ive been home with my family since then. Ive managed to fit in a number of good training sessions, and am looking forward to getting back in the car. I think Ive had a fair bit of bad luck so far, but Im looking to put that behind me and see how much further forward we can go with the updates. Ive kept in close touch with the team about the tests theyve put the car through, and am encouraged by the results theyve had. I think well take a good step forward in Spain.
I like Barcelona - we all know every bit of it very well as we test there a lot, and have raced there for years. Monaco is obviously a very special place for me - a lot of my fans will be out in force, and I love going back to where Ive won, so thatll be a busy, but good week.
Tony Fernandes, Lotus team principal
Were back in Europe and I couldnt be more pleased with the position we arrive in. The first phase of Lotus Racings life is now behind us, and the next challenge starts here. Weve proved all the doubters wrong, and have shown that the hard work everyone in the team puts is making the dream we share come true. I remember the immense pride I had when I first saw the cars run in the pre-season tests in Spain, and in Barcelona were back, ahead of the other new teams and with a new package that will help us push on closer to the next goal, which is to take on the midfield. Ultimately its about taking Lotus Racing to the front of the grid and this marks the next step in that journey.
On a personal level Ive always loved coming to Spain, and with Monaco straight afterwards Im very excited about seeing how our fanbase is growing into the traditional heartland of Formula One. Weve broken new ground in Australia, Asia and China and now were back at the scene of some of the most famous moments in the Lotus history.
Mike Gascoyne, Lotus chief technical officer
Now the first four flyaway races are behind us and were into the European season. All the teams will have upgrades for Barcelona, but were hoping that ours is even more significant than our rivals because we received our entry so late and had to freeze the initial specification of the car very early in the design process. We do expect it to be reasonably significant - we have an aero package with revised sidepods, front wings and brake ducts, and a number of mechanical changes, but obviously well have to wait and see what step forward our rivals will also make. Straight after Barcelona we go to Monaco which is a totally different challenge. Its a unique place in terms of its configuration. Everyone runs maximum downforce and obviously its a very tight, bumpy street circuit, but the experience our two drivers bring, combined with the progress weve made at the factory and on track, gives me confidence well put in a good showing at both races.
Rubens Barrichello, Williams
2009 Qualifying - 3rd, 2009 Race - 2nd
Most of the drivers know Barcelona inside out. Its a great track, particularly for qualifying and that can really be the determining factor of the weekend. The circuit has a combination of high and low speed sectors but the priority is to achieve good speed going into the corners, rather than focusing on the long straight, so you have to have a strong aerodynamic set-up. Turn three is challenging and you are looking to go flat out there for qualifying. The four-through-seven corner sequence is where you can make up the most time on the lap so getting that hooked up is important too. Overtaking is kind of limited because everyone has so much experience of the track. The biggest variable is normally the weather. Ive raced at Catalunya plenty of times; its a circuit I like a lot and I think someone with experience will do better there.
Nico Hulkenberg, Williams
2009 Qualifying - n/a, 2009 Race - n/a
Ive enjoyed the first few races so Im looking forward to Spain and working together with the team again. Ive covered a lot of kilometres testing in Barcelona over the past couple of years, and Ive raced there in GP2, so Im confident I know the track well enough to hit the ground running. Its a good circuit to drive and gives everyone a clear indication of how strong your aerodynamics are.
The track flows nicely and has some testing corners. The first sector is especially quick. Turn three is a fast right hander, turn nine too, and both are a lot of fun to drive. Like everyone else, we will have new parts for Barcelona so theres some expectation to do better there than in China. Ive been to the track so many times but Ive never really seen the city itself. Now that Im actually racing in F1, I doubt thats going to change!
Sam Michael, Williams technical director
We spend a lot of time testing in Barcelona so we know the track well. That brings obvious advantages for the drivers, but it also enables us to spend more time working on different programmes during the practice sessions. We will have some aero updates for the car in Barcelona, including a new front wing, sidepod and revised wing mirrors. We will also be running additional test parts in order to further develop the blown rear wing that we had limited time with in Shanghai.
Pedro de la Rosa, BMW Sauber
2009 Qualifying - n/a, 2009 Race - n/a
"I grew up in the city centre of Barcelona, and I certainly love my home town. You have everything there - a lively city, the sea, the mountains and a permanently good climate. I'm very much looking forward to this race! My parents always had a summer house close to where the circuit is. From 1991 onwards I loved to listen to the fabulous sound of the Formula One engines from there when teams where testing. Also in 1991 I raced in Formula Renault in the first event at the Circuit de Catalunya. My first Formula One Grand Prix there was in 1999. The circuit has become the best test track for Formula One. It is a very demanding circuit - tough on the cars, the engines and the drivers. It is a track I really, really like. Turn three is very fast and very long - it is a true neck killer. There is a great variety of corners - high and medium speed, and a couple of slow ones in the last sector. We had a good winter test there and I have the feeling our car suits Barcelona better than some of the more recent tracks. For the Spanish Grand Prix we will also have a new aero package in place. I'm sure at the end of the race we will either be close to or in the points."
Kamui Kobayashi, BMW Sauber
2009 Qualifying - n/a, 2009 Race - n/a
"I know the Circuit de Catalunya pretty well. I won a GP2 race there, raced there in Formula 3 and did some Formula One testing there. Even my first ever F1 test was in Barcelona. In those days the last two corners were different to now, as it was a very fast double right hander. The circuit is very demanding on the cars and challenging for us drivers. The car-and-driver combination has to be very good, as it is difficult but crucial to get the set-up right. The fast right hander before the back straight is my favourite corner and quite challenging. I like Spain and the Spanish Grand Prix. The weather is usually very nice and there is a large crowd. I'm happy for Pedro that it is his home race and all his fans will be there. We have been testing there over the winter. We have an update to the car and I believe our reliability problems are solved. I should have a good chance to finally go racing after I have only done 19 laps in total in all four races."
James Key, BMW Sauber technical director
"We have some updates for Barcelona, as most of the teams will have. We are trying to push our F-Duct design a step further. This is obviously a technology that will eventually appear all the way down the grid during the year, but our team has some experience of it from the first events. Additionally we have a package of updates on the car, which are particularly on the front end and the diffuser. It's a decent package, which will hopefully allow us to find some more performance. Obviously a lot depends on how tough the competition is. Some of the steps address the issues the team has identified in terms of the aero characteristics, so it should make the car a little bit better purely through changing the way it behaves.
"With regard to the circuit itself, it's obviously a place everybody knows extremely well. It's an excellent reference circuit with a real mix of low and high speed corners, which require downforce as well as a good mechanical grip. It's a very technical circuit where it's never been easy to get the best out of the car. It will be interesting going back there after the cars have developed since winter testing, and to see how much they have changed. An important question will be how well we can get the tyres to last because it is a very hard circuit on tyres; and, of course, the difference in temperature between winter and now is also an interesting aspect.
"I'm looking forward to the event. It's obviously Pedro's home race, which is great for him and, as a team, we will try to have a good weekend and put the difficult start to the season behind us."
Nico Rosberg, Mercedes GP
2009 Qualifying - 9th, 2009 Race - 8th
"It's a very nice feeling to be going into the European season with second place in the Drivers' Championship and with a significant upgrade for our car in Barcelona next weekend. From talking to the guys at the factory, I know that they having been working really hard to get everything ready on time and it will be interesting to see the effect that the new developments have on the car. Barcelona is such a familiar circuit as we have tested there so often over the years that we should be able to spend the practice sessions just focusing on getting the most out of the upgrades. Returning to Europe is when the season feels like it really gets underway and we will be doing our best to continue our good run and podium finishes from the first four races. I'm looking forward to it!"
Michael Schumacher, Mercedes GP
2009 Qualifying - n/a, 2009 Race - n/a
"The European season is about to kick off and now we will see how our developments look in relation to those of the other teams. Every team will come to Barcelona with a revised car and so of course do we. I see a lot of potential here especially as our team has been reacting very well over the past four races. We have worked on general improvements to the car, as well as specific developments in downforce and efficiency, and I am confident that we have room to make further progress in the future. Our step forward in Barcelona will be bigger than you can make at each race during the flyaways but it would not be realistic to expect us to suddenly be competing right at the front. I am hoping for a better race in Barcelona than I had in China and of course I would not mind having had better results so far. However the good news is that after three years away, I am feeling extremely motivated. So I am clearly ready to take this challenge."
Ross Brawn, Mercedes GP team principal
"The start of the European season is the first opportunity to make significant changes to the car and the Spanish Grand Prix will see the first step in our development programme for the MGP W01. In addition to a major aerodynamic and bodywork package, we have made changes to the wheelbase of the car which will help the overall handling and weight distribution. Michael will use a different chassis for Barcelona as we take the opportunity of having the cars back at the factory after the flyaway races to repair some damage to his original chassis. He will switch to our first chassis which was previously used during the pre-season tests. Everyone at our factories in Brackley and Brixworth has worked extremely hard to ensure that the cars and our new developments are ready for Barcelona following the delayed return from China and we look forward to evaluating the impact on our pace whilst remaining conscious that this is very much a first step in improving our competitiveness."
Norbert Haug, vice-president, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport
"The start of the European season in Barcelona will be a very important race to establish whether the competitive order of the field has changed as every top team will introduce technical upgrades. Our MGP W01 will have the first set of significant changes which will be followed by a defined rhythm of further upgrades, all of which are aimed at getting our car to the very top of the field. After the first four flyaway races in Bahrain, Australia, Malaysia and China, Nico is currently second in the drivers' world championship which shows that he and our Mercedes GP Petronas team have done a good job in the first fifth of the season getting the best results from the material available. Michael did not have such a good run, mostly without his fault, in the first four races. I am absolutely convinced that this will change sooner rather than later."
More to follow.