Spain preview quotes - Ferrari, Williams, Marussia & more 09 May 2012
Barcelonas Circuit de Catalunya, venue for next weekends Formula 1 Gran Premio de España Santander 2012, is one of the most complete tests of a Formula One car and driver. But after their three-day, in-season test at Mugello, do the teams and drivers feel ready for the challenge?
Fernando Alonso, Ferrari
2011 Qualifying - 4th, 2011 Race - 5th
Here we are, on the eve of my home race, the Spanish Grand Prix. Its always a special event for me, because racing in front of my fans has always been a unique feeling. In Montmelo, we will be counting on making a step forward, but we wont know until Saturday if we have and if so, how big a step it is. We have updates on the F2012, some of which we tested in Mugello last week and others which we will try out on Friday in free practice. Clearly, having limited the damage in the first four races this year, we must turn things around. Having said that, its not the case that if we are not on pole in Barcelona, then its the end of the world. The important thing is to make progress, reducing the gap as much as possible, first this weekend, then again in Monaco and after that, in Montreal, Valencia, Silverstone The season is very long, with sixteen races to go, the same number that constituted the entire calendar back in 2003. We must continue to work day and night. With the same spirit of wanting to win and being prepared to fight with all ones strength to achieve that, which is the spirit that has driven me ever since I was a kid racing karts.
Felipe Massa, Ferrari
2011 Qualifying - 8th, 2011 Race - DNF
I am looking forward to racing in Barcelona. I have some good memories from there, I had a great race in 2007, when I had a big fight with Fernando actually, going into the first corner, before going on to win the Grand Prix. The following year was also good for me, as I finished second. Of course, it is the track that every F1 driver has spent more time driving than any other, if you take into account all the tests we do there, but you never really know it, because it is different every time and it can be cold or hot or wet and just the slightest change in temperature can have a big effect on how the car behaves. I hope that this year my result could come close to what I achieved in those two years: at least it is the right direction to follow.
Pastor Maldonado, Williams
2011 Qualifying - 9th, 2011 Race - 15th
We have done a lot of running here pre-season so hopefully that experience will help this weekend. It is a very enjoyable circuit to drive, technical but still quick with turns three and nine a real test. It is also difficult to set the car up here because there are high, medium and slow speed corners. We have been working hard since the last race and hopefully the updates we bring will lead to some good points.
Bruno Senna, Williams
2011 Qualifying - n/a, 2011 Race - n/a
Barcelona is one of my favourite tracks and I get a lot of support there so I am really looking forward to the race. It is a very tough circuit physically and mentality, with plenty of high speed corners and a technical last sector which separates the drivers. Lots of cars will come to Barcelona with new parts so it will be interesting to see who has progressed.
Mark Gillan, Williams chief operations engineer
On the back of a busy Mugello test we are looking forward to the Barcelona race. As the first race back in Europe this is traditionally where teams bring large performance update packages so it will be interesting to gauge the relative qualifying and race performance deltas this weekend.
Barcelona is obviously a track that all the teams know intimately and one where track conditions can change significantly throughout the event. The latest forecast predicts a warm dry Friday and Saturday, with potential for rain on Sunday. The track layout, with its high average speed and long corners, is particularly severe on the tyres so tyre handling will be paramount this weekend. Pirelli are bringing the hard and soft tyres to Barcelona which is the first time this season that this particular combination has been used.
Remi Taffin, Renault track support to Williams
We covered over 3,600km in winter testing at Barcelona, so we got plenty of data for how the engine-chassis package works round this track. This will help as there are a few challenges in Barcelona. The torque delivery has to be very accurate to deal with the slower corners in the third sector, including turn ten and the new chicane, but the engine also has to give response and drive through the upper end of the rev range to deal with the high and medium speed bends in the first half of the track. There are also several undulation changes so the gear shifts have to be correctly calibrated to give effective acceleration up the hills. The long pit straight gives an opportunity to release the KERS energy twice as the counter energy resets which should increase overtaking possibilities.
Timo Glock, Marussia
2011 Qualifying - 20th, 2011 Race - 19th
"I am looking forward to the Spanish Grand Prix and the start of the European season. After racing overseas for the opening rounds it is great to be back in Europe. The logistics are much easier for the team and the journey is shorter for everyone, so we can get straight down to business. After the tests in Mugello I think we have a good baseline for Barcelona and now we need to see what the new parts we have will bring. I hope they make a difference and we can be a bit closer to the guys in front of us. I am looking forward to the race weekend again."
Charles Pic, Marussia
2011 Qualifying - n/a, 2011 Race - n/a
Our objective for Spain is to make a step forward and get a little bit closer to the competition. Based on what we have seen at Mugello, I think this is possible. We have a good update and the car feels positive, so if we can make it work at Barcelona, I think we can continue to be strong at the other circuits. As a team we have goals and also on a personal level I want to keep progressing. I feel settled and comfortable with the team and the car, so I now want to keep improving. The Circuit de Catalunya is a track I know well; I have raced here a few times now. I am feeling good about the direction we are heading in and Im looking forward to the weekend.
John Booth, Marussia team principal
The Circuit de Catalunya is a bit like an old glove in that it is a track that we know so well and feel very comfortable with. If a package works well here, then it is a good barometer of how much of a step forward we have made, more so than Mugello, where we saw a clear step forward but at what is a less representative circuit. Barcelona has a bit of everything in terms of circuit characteristics, so it should showcase just how much of an improvement our improvements are, although we are only too aware that the rest of the field has not been standing still over the past few weeks. It feels good to be heading back to Europe. We enjoy all the race destinations but those that are pretty much on our doorstep certainly make life easier for the team in logistical terms. With the trucks and motorhome to hand, it feels like we could almost be back at the factory in Banbury when were racing. Our start to the season was certainly expeditious but weve caught up with ourselves a little now, have a far better understanding of the MR01, and we consolidated our learnings at the test last week. We seem to have developed a good rhythm now and we are on a good trajectory. For that reason I am confident that there is a lot more to come from the car and the drivers this season, so we head to Europe feeling excited and confident. It will also be the first race where we have our F1 team and our junior formulae teams racing on the same asphalt, so we will be keeping a close eye on their progression. Our test driver Maria De Villota is also joining us on what is home turf for her, so there is a lot going on this weekend.
Paul di Resta, Force India
2011 Qualifying - 16th, 2011 Race - 12th
[After the Mugello test] Theres still plenty of work to do in free practice to get on top of the car, but weve already done the basic checks. I probably know Barcelona better than any other track on the calendar. We did two tests there in the winter and I had four days in the car so I already feel quite well prepared, but its the same for everyone. I expect the field to be incredibly close once again.
Nico Hulkenberg, Force India
2011 Qualifying - n/a, 2011 Race - n/a
Its a track I enjoy and where Ive been successful in the past. Its high-speed, there are lots of right hand corners and its quite tough physically, especially on your neck. As a city I enjoy being in Barcelona because its a great place with a nice atmosphere. Also, the stands are always full on race day because the Spanish fans love Formula One.
The first sector through turns one, two and three is tricky and you need to treat them as one corner. A mistake in one or two will hurt you through three and cost your lap time. It feels great when you get them just right. Also, the final sector is quite technical: its slow and twisty, especially the last chicane and its easy to drop time at the end of the lap.
Dr Vijay Mallya, Force India team principal
Now that the European season is upon us, we should be able to bring through more updates to the car. That will start this weekend when we run with some of the new parts we evaluated in Mugello last week. However, we have to remember that most teams will make a development step for Barcelona so it remains to be seen how this will impact on our relative performance.
As well as developments for the car we are pushing hard to maximise the strategies and the drivers are delivering excellent performances in the races. Thats so important this year with the margins between the teams so tight. If we can continue to deliver like we did in Bahrain then we should be able to remain in the hunt for points this weekend.
Kimi Raikkonen, Lotus
2011 Qualifying - n/a, 2011 Race - n/a
I have tested here very many times. Its a challenging circuit - great fun with a good car, but not that great with a not so good car. Usually a car going well in Barcelona goes well everywhere. We had a good car there for the second pre-season test even if the car wasnt quite together for the first one. The car has improved and I feel more comfortable in it.
I expect Lotus to be very competitive at Barcelona. Its going to be very, very close between the top teams. This is the only circuit where the teams have already tested with the new cars, and the set-up is crucial as the track changes with the wind and temperature. All the teams have updates for the first European race, which makes it even more interesting and even tighter at the top.
I have won here twice, and theres nothing better than winning in any Grand Prix. Those two wins are my only podiums in the event.
Romain Grosjean, Lotus
2011 Qualifying - n/a, 2011 Race - n/a
In Barcelona it will be important to qualify well, and it will be much harder to overtake than Bahrain. Qualifying is an area where we can still improve a little bit ourselves, we have some ideas of how to improve, and hopefully well get on to the front row. We have a good understanding of the E20 after the Mugello test and we hope to bring some new parts to Spain too. Tyre management will be the key for a good performance in the race. Lets see what the temperatures are like. If its as hot as Bahrain, the E20 should work well
Eric Boullier, Lotus team principal
The first race in Europe is always the start of a new adventure. In this respect, yes, were all looking forward to this challenge. It also makes the life of the team easier in terms of logistics: were not that far away from home any more. This said, Barcelona is a special track because we always test there in the winter so it will be interesting to see the gaps between the teams; it might be even tighter than what we have already seen.
Weve been able to look after our tyres quite well during the races so far but the Barcelona track is very abrasive, especially for the front left tyre. Maybe well do a better job than our rivals in this area. The only question mark is our performance relative to the temperature. A pattern started to emerge over the first four races, where we seemed to be more and more competitive in hot conditions. Well see.
James Allison, Lotus technical director
We will bring the first tranche of gains from our Windshear programme in addition to some parts from our conventional wind tunnel development. There will be modifications to the front and rear drums, to the front wing and to the floor.
Paul Hembery, Pirelli motorsport director
The Spanish Grand Prix weekend should present something of a contrast to the last pre-season test in Barcelona, where low ambient temperatures meant that it was difficult to get heat into the tyres! This time were expecting warmer weather, which only adds to the many challenges that the tyres will face here. Weve nominated the soft and hard tyre in order to highlight performance differences that will create a different challenge for the teams, showcasing both the speed and durability of our products. There is a whole step in between our two nominations for the first time this year and this should allow the teams to come up with a number of different tyre strategies that could make a big difference to the final outcome. With many teams having expanded their knowledge of our tyre range and tested new components at Mugello, were expecting a closely-fought Spanish Grand Prix - and maybe even the fifth different winner in five races
Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull
2011 Qualifying - 2nd, 2011 Race - 1st
Of all the current GP tracks, Barcelona is the one that we know the most because we have done so much testing there in recent years. That said, the knowledge that you gain at the tests doesnt always help due to the changing wind direction that occurs there, which can sometimes give you a nasty surprise, especially into Turn One. But in general, a car that functions well aerodynamically in Barcelona will work everywhere - so it will be an interesting weekend. We have been working on the package for Barcelona at this weeks test, but we will still have set-up work to do there on arrival.
Mark Webber, Red Bull
2011 Qualifying - 1st, 2011 Race - 4th
Its the first European race of the season, so it will be all hands on deck after a successful Mugello test. It was a tricky start to the test, but it finished off well and we head to Barcelona with good miles on the car and an understanding of some new avenues. I like the Barcelona track, we do a lot of work there and its a track thats been good to me in the past. I got pole there for the last two years and converted it to a win in 2010, so Im looking for a strong weekend. Its tight amongst the teams, so were mindful that we need to get everything right to get a good weekend.
Alexander Rossi, Caterham test driver
"I am looking forward to getting back into the F1 car in Spain and I want to thank the team for the chance to run in FP1 in Barcelona. I have a clear goal for the session - make sure I run to the plan set by the engineers, not make any mistakes and learn as much as I can over the whole weekend. I know how much I will be able to take from my time with the team back to my Formula Renault 3.5 commitments and I know the team will do everything they can to help me maximise my performance on Friday."
Heikki Kovalainen, Caterham
2011 Qualifying - 15th, 2011 Race - DNF
Barcelonas a good circuit where the main challenge is to nail everything absolutely perfectly. If you make a half a tenth of a mistake it can cost you a grid position and it's a race weekend where you have to focus on the details to give yourself the best chance of success. Its a track with a lot of high-speed corners, some where you have to be really on it to save time, and you have to be pretty committed going into the braking zone in T1 as that's where there is an overtaking chance. For the fans it's often a pretty quiet race because its a tough circuit to overtake on, but that makes qualifying even more crucial and means you have to get the plan on Saturday absolutely right."
Vitaly Petrov, Caterham
2011 Qualifying - 6th, 2011 Race - 11th
After a good test in Mugello we are all looking forward to getting back to racing in Spain. Barcelona is a track I know well and one I like racing on. I was on the podium there in GP2 in 2009 and while I know that's out of reach for us at the moment, we will all be focusing on continuing to take the fight to the cars ahead and repeating the sort of performances we've put in so far this season, particularly on Sundays."
Mark Smith, Caterham technical director
The Circuit de Catalunya is a track every team knows extremely well. We have already tested there twice this year as the layout gives the cars a good test of most of the track conditions we see throughout the season - fast, high G corners, a long straight and a number of slower speed corners where good traction is key. It is also one of the more technically demanding tracks for the drivers and offers a bit of everything. Turns 3 and 9 are high-speed corners and finding a balance for both together is not easy. The final sector is also a good challenge - the car has to make big changes of direction so you need good mechanical grip to maximise your lap time.
"Barcelona is also a relatively open circuit and the wind can have a significant effect on car balance, particularly when it changes direction. However, while the wind can be an issue, another major factor in Barcelona is the way in which the track evolves over the race weekend and throughout each day due to air and track temperature changes, which can be fairly extreme. Although we understand these factors well, due to the amount of time we spend at the circuit, we do need to constantly monitor what is happening with the weather to ensure the car setup remains optimised and we are on top of the changing conditions.
"We will also be giving our test driver Alexander Rossi his first FP1 run with us in Barcelona and we are all looking forward to giving him the chance to work with us at a full race weekend. He did a good job in Abu Dhabi when we ran him in the young driver test in 2011 and I am sure he will perform well for us on Friday in Spain."
Tony Fernandes, Caterham team principal
"We head back to Europe after what has been an encouraging first four races for the team. We may not have quite bridged the gap to the midfield pack yet, but we are clearly much closer than we were this time last year, particularly on race day when we have seen clear evidence of the progress we have made.
"Having been with us for four races now, I am very pleased with the job Vitaly has been doing for the team. He is obviously a fighter and he is pushing his team mate well, especially on Sundays, and that is good for the whole team. I think Heikki is due a run of better luck in the races as he has been pushing extremely hard in qualifying, particularly to get himself into Q2 in Bahrain, but he has not had the same luck when the lights go out on race day. Hopefully that will change in Barcelona and we will be able to see both cars fighting to the chequered flag on Sunday."
Jenson Button, McLaren
2011 Qualifying - 5th, 2011 Race - 3rd
Barcelona can be a funny circuit: we all test there so regularly that every driver knows it like the back of his hand, yet it can still be an extremely tricky place to get absolutely right. But, because every team is so dialled in to the track, even having a well-sorted car isnt necessarily the answer because its sometimes the smallest differences that determine the order.
You need to have absolutely every box ticked if youre going to win at Barcelona. Its a place that punishes poor balance like almost nowhere else - if your car is understeering around here, then youre going to really struggle. There are no particularly stand-out corners, but the blast up the hill through Turns Seven and Eight and the fast right-hander at Turn Nine have a great flow and feel great when you nail it - especially in qualifying.
Lewis Hamilton, McLaren
2011 Qualifying - 3rd, 2011 Race - 2nd
Our performance at Barcelona during winter testing looked promising - but the form of the season is still very hard to read, so its difficult to predict wholl be at the front next weekend. Nonetheless, we had a great race there last year - I pushed Sebastian [Vettel] all the way to the finish. I think we have a comparatively stronger car this year, so I hope we can have another strong race.
Itll be interesting to see how straightforward overtaking will be this year. Its always been a tough place for passing - as I found out last year - but I really hope DRS and KERS-Hybrid combined will make it a little easier. I think its going to be one of the toughest tracks of the year for overtaking, but Ill be hoping for a strong performance in qualifying in order to make it as straightforward as possible in the race.
Martin Whitmarsh, McLaren team principal
I think the drivers and the engineers enjoy the tricky technical challenge of Barcelonas Circuit de Catalunya. You really operate your set-up on fine limits around here: every teams balance is so refined that even the slightest imperfections become highlighted. Get it right and you tend to have a serene afternoon, get it wrong and youll be hitting trouble, and traffic, throughout the race.
As weve seen in the first four races, added to that mix will be the additional conundrum of managing the tyres - Barcelona should give all the teams a clearer understanding of how the tyres behave in whats likely to be a typical European race climate. But there will still be plenty to learn.
I sometimes think of the Santander Spanish Grand Prix as a useful acid test as to the effectiveness of the years regulations: its a tough, technical circuit where passing is limited. If the racing is good here, then were normally set for an interesting year: for 2012, weve already seen that the combination of DRS and KERS-Hybrid can spice up proceedings, so I hope were in store for a fun and eventful race next weekend.
Kamui Kobayashi, Sauber
2011 Qualifying - 14th, 2011 Race - 10th
At the Mugello test I definitely had the feeling our new update to the car is a step forward for us. This is good, of course, but only at the Barcelona circuit will we be able to tell how much of an improvement it really is. Not only because testing never allows for proper comparisons to the competition, but also because the Circuit de Catalunya is special. It has everything - fast corners, medium speed corners and slow corners. Although everybody knows that track so well, it is very difficult to get the set up right there. But, in turn, if you really manage to get it right there this normally means the car can be fast on other circuits as well. It will be a challenging weekend for us drivers as well as for the car and the engineers, and I am very much looking forward to going racing again.
Sergio Perez, Sauber
2011 Qualifying - 12th, 2011 Race - 9th
I am looking forward to the Spanish Grand Prix very much and also to the other forthcoming races in Europe. To me the race at the Circuit de Catalunya is one of the most special ones on the calendar. I obviously know the circuit very well from GP2, from last years Formula One race and, of course, from testing. It was there where I scored my first ever F1 points last year when I finished ninth. I hope to get some points again this year. Our recent race in Bahrain was very disappointing, so I really hope our new aero package will work well in Barcelona.
Giampaolo DallAra, Sauber head of track engineering
The Barcelona track is very complete. It has all kinds of features - low speed, medium speed and high speed corners as well as changes of direction. In some places the circuit is quite bumpy, and the tarmac is abrasive. Although we know this track well from testing it's always a challenging one. Pirelli will provide us with the soft and the hard tyre. It's the first time this year that there are two steps between the tyre compounds, which makes it interesting. We expect the soft one to be good in qualifying, while the hard compound should be strong in the race. The limiting factor is the wear on the front axle. However, at the same time the track characteristics stress the rear tyres, therefore the challenge will be to find the best compromise for the set-up of the car. We tested a major upgrade to the car in Mugello, consisting of a new front wing and new bodywork, including a different exhaust exit and a new diffuser. The results of the test were encouraging. However, all the teams had some upgrades, and only the next race weekend will give us confirmation whether we are able to strengthen our position compared to our competitors. Nevertheless I'm confident that we can have a strong performance in Barcelona.
Michael Schumacher, Mercedes
2011 Qualifying - 10th, 2011 Race - 6th
"After completing our testing programme in Mugello, we are now heading to the start of the European season in Barcelona next week. The positive thing about the test was that we could really concentrate on the developments we were aiming to work on. This should give us a good basis for further developments, even if maybe not for the next race to come. Barcelona is a track we have driven extensively on, and this is why we know that its characteristics do not exactly play fully into our hands. But then, we will definitely go there and try our best and at the same time keep on working for the things to come."
Nico Rosberg, Mercedes
2011 Qualifying - 7th, 2011 Race - 7th
"I am really looking forward to next weekend and racing in Europe again. It's quite unique to come to a track where we have done so many laps in winter testing, however the race weekend will be a completely different challenge. The test in Mugello this week was very positive for us, and I believe we will arrive in Barcelona with a much better understanding of the tyres and how we need to set our car up. Despite the familiarity of the track, there will still be a lot of work for us to do, and it should be a good challenge."
Ross Brawn, Mercedes team principal
"After a hectic start to the season with four races and the test in Mugello, we are all looking forward to the European season getting underway and the familiarity that brings. The team had a good week in Italy for the test this week where we were able to work both on challenges that affected us during the initial races of the season, and evaluate a number of new developments planned for the forthcoming races. Spain plays host to the first European race, and although the Circuit de Catalunya is a very familiar venue for the team and our drivers, the weekend will bring its own challenges. I feel confident that we are continuing to make progress, and we will of course be working hard to continue that trend."
Norbert Haug, Vice-President, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport
"The first four races of the 2012 season have offered great, thrilling sport for all fans of Formula One. Eight drivers from six teams on the podium in four races - one more driver than in the entire 2011 season - and four winners from four races for the first time in nearly 30 years; you couldn't ask for more in terms of on-track excitement and unpredictability. No team has yet produced winning form at more than one event and achieving this consistency will be key. Our Mercedes AMG Petronas team has registered a positive trend: after two difficult races at the start of the season, we were competitive and won in China then, in Bahrain, we were the third-fastest team on race day. We have been hard at work since then to further improve the competitiveness, consistency and reliability of our car. The Circuit de Catalunya will present a very different challenge next weekend to the ones in the first four races with track temperatures likely to be very different and with new developments on the cars. We will approach the race weekend in a focused manner in order to maximise our team performance with both drivers."
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