A lap of Barcelona with Renault's Robert Kubica 06 May 2010
Renaults Robert Kubica talks us round a flying lap of Barcelonas Circuit de Catalunya track ahead of this weekends Spanish Grand Prix
Barcelona is one of the best-known tracks for all the teams and drivers because of the testing miles we do there over the winter. The racing is never brilliant because its so hard to overtake, but its still a fun Grand Prix with a good atmosphere and enthusiastic Spanish fans.
The track layout is quite interesting with a few high-speed sections, as well as a very slow final sector. This means that you have to find a set-up compromise to cope with the range of corners. In the past, I preferred to go for a balance that suited the low-speed corners and I would live with the car in the high-speed sections. I always felt it was better to have low-speed traction and a stable car under braking, especially if the weather is hot and you have a lot of tyre degradation.
The start of the lap is really nice to drive in a Formula One car. The first corner requires heavy braking and you build up speed quickly through the next sequence leading into turn three, which is a really challenging corner, especially with heavy fuel. You have to judge where the limit is and the line you take will depend on how your car is behaving.
Some cars prefer to take a wide exit from Turn Two and a tight entrance to three, while others will do the opposite and sacrifice speed on the exit of two for a wide entry into three.
Turn Nine is an exciting and unusual corner because its over a crest and you cant see the exit. Its one of those corners where you hope you dont lose the car because if you do its going to be a big shunt. Its usually taken in fifth gear, with just light braking, before youre back on the power for the approach to Turn 10.
Turn 10 is tricky and the cars usually struggle with braking stability because there are some small bumps in the braking zone. If youre suffering with tyre wear it becomes even more difficult, especially getting good traction on the exit. Then youre straight into Turn 11, which last year wasnt really a corner because you could really attack the low kerb and take it flat out. But this year, on heavy fuel loads, it should be more challenging.
The end of the lap is now very low-speed and not as challenging for the drivers as the old layout. The final chicane (Turns 14 and 15) is particularly slow so its important to have good traction for a clean exit because it affects your speed into the last corner and onto the main straight.