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Spain preview quotes - Caterham, Williams, Force India & more 08 May 2013

Charles Pic (FRA) Caterham.
Formula One World Championship, Rd4, Bahrain Grand Prix, Practice, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, Friday, 19 April 2013 Charles Pic (FRA) Caterham.
Formula One World Championship, Rd4, Bahrain Grand Prix, Practice, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, Friday, 19 April 2013 Giedo van der Garde (NDL) Caterham F1.
Formula One World Championship, Rd2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Preparations, Sepang, Malaysia, Thursday, 21 March 2013 Pastor Maldonado (VEN) Williams.
Formula One World Championship, Rd1, Australian Grand Prix, Preparations, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Thursday, 14 March 2013 Valtteri Bottas (FIN) Williams.
Formula One World Championship, Rd1, Australian Grand Prix, Practice, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Friday, 15 March 2013 Mike Coughlan (GBR) Williams Technical Director.
Formula One World Championship, Rd15, Japanese Grand Prix, Practice, Suzuka, Japan, Friday, 5 October 2012 Paul di Resta (GBR) Force India VJM06.
Formula One World Championship, Rd3, Chinese Grand Prix, Qualifying, Shanghai, China, Saturday, 13 April 2013 Adrian Sutil (GER) Force India F1.
Formula One World Championship, Rd4, Bahrain Grand Prix Preparations, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, Thursday, 18 April 2013 Dr. Vijay Mallya (IND) Force India Formula One Team Owner.
Formula One World Championship, Rd17, Indian Grand Prix, Buddh International Circuit, Greater Noida, New Delhi, India, Qualifying, Saturday, 27 October 2012 Paul Hembery (GBR) Pirelli Motorsport Director with FanVision.
Formula One World Championship, Rd16, Korean Grand Prix, Practice, Korea International Circuit, Yeongam, South Korea, Friday, 12 October 2012 Jules Bianchi (FRA) Marussia F1 Team.
Formula One World Championship, Rd4, Bahrain Grand Prix, Qualifying, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, Saturday, 20 April 2013 Max Chilton (GBR) Marussia F1 Team.
Formula One World Championship, Rd1, Australian Grand Prix, Preparations, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Thursday, 14 March 2013 Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren.
Formula One World Championship, Rd2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Practice, Sepang, Malaysia, Friday, 22 March 2013 Sergio Perez (MEX) McLaren.
Formula One World Championship, Rd3, Chinese Grand Prix, Race Day, Shanghai, China, Sunday, 14 April 2013 Martin Whitmarsh (GBR) McLaren Chief Executive Officer.
Formula One World Championship, Rd1, Australian Grand Prix, Practice, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Friday, 15 March 2013 Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing.
Formula One World Championship, Rd1, Australian Grand Prix, Preparations, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Thursday, 14 March 2013 Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull Racing RB9.
Formula One World Championship, Rd4, Bahrain Grand Prix Preparations, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, Thursday, 18 April 2013 Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Lotus.
Formula One World Championship, Rd1, Australian Grand Prix, Practice, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Friday, 15 March 2013 Romain Grosjean (FRA) Lotus F1.
Formula One World Championship, Rd1, Australian Grand Prix, Qualifying, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Saturday, 16 March 2013 Eric Boullier (FRA) Lotus F1 Team Principal.
Formula One Testing, Day 1, Jerez, Spain, Tuesday, 5 February 2013 James Allison (GBR) Lotus F1 Technical Director.
Formula One World Championship, Rd1, Australian Grand Prix, Preparations, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Thursday, 14 March 2013 Remi Taffin (FRA), head of Renault Sport F1 track operations in the Press Conference
Formula One World Championship, Rd18, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Practice, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Friday, 2 November 2012 Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes AMG F1.
Formula One World Championship, Rd1, Australian Grand Prix, Practice, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Friday, 15 March 2013 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1.
Formula One World Championship, Rd1, Australian Grand Prix, Preparations, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Thursday, 14 March 2013 Ross Brawn (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 Team Principal.
Formula One World Championship, Rd1, Australian Grand Prix, Preparations, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Thursday, 14 March 2013 Toto Wolff (AUT) Mercedes AMG Executive Director.
Formula One World Championship, Rd3, Chinese Grand Prix, Qualifying, Shanghai, China, Saturday, 13 April 2013 Nico Hulkenberg (GER) Sauber.
Formula One World Championship, Rd4, Bahrain Grand Prix, Practice, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, Friday, 19 April 2013 Esteban Gutierrez (MEX) Sauber.
Formula One World Championship, Rd1, Australian Grand Prix, Preparations, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Thursday, 14 March 2013 Tom McCullough (GBR) Sauber Head of Track Engineering.
Formula One Testing, Day 4, Barcelona, Spain, Friday, 22 February 2013

After four thrilling, flyaway rounds to open the 2013 season, the Formula One paddock moves on to the more traditional territory of Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya for next weekend’s Formula 1 Gran Premio de España 2013. Those involved discuss their prospects for the race…

Charles Pic, Caterham
2012 Qualifying - 21st, 2012 Race - DNF

“The last race in Bahrain was very positive for us because that was clearly the best of the first four weekends for us in terms of the pace we showed all weekend. That was a good start and even though it was still not enough to be where we want to be, it was in the right direction and that was positive for everyone. The team was happy and I'm also happy about how Bahrain went.

“Now we’re into the European part of the season and we start in Barcelona at a track we all like racing at and one we know very well! This race is usually where the European races start and it’s one where all the teams bring updates and new parts, so it's always very interesting to see what you bring and what the others bring and how that all works out over the weekend.

“I have to say it's a track that I like a lot. Normally the weather is great (it’ll certainly be warmer than when we were testing there in February!) and I think that with how we finished off in Bahrain it will be an interesting and, hopefully, a good weekend for us.

“As I say, everyone brings new parts to Spain but what is really important is optimising the car for the new package, for the parts you bring. Everyone at the factory and in the wind tunnel has been working really hard on the updates we brought to the last race, and what we’ll race this weekend and at the other races this year, but it’s not as easy as just putting on the new parts and going faster - we’ll continue the hard work on track by making sure we can find the best setup for these parts with the specific demands of the Barcelona circuit, using all the data we’ll generate on Friday and Saturday to put us in the best position for the race on Sunday.

“We know everyone else will have updates, so for us it’s important that we can find a little bit more than our direct rivals, and keep that momentum up all year. We made pretty good progress at the last race, and I’m confident we’ll do the same in Barcelona.”

Giedo van der Garde, Caterham
2012 Qualifying - n/a, 2012 Race - n/a

“I’ve spent a lot of time in Barcelona throughout my career and it’s always a great place to race at. The weather is usually good, the Spanish people are really passionate about their racing and it’s always busy on track. The city itself is amazing and I’m doing a couple of very cool events with my partner McGregor in the city that will be really good fun. But obviously the track is really what it’s all about. I'm excited about the weekend ahead, especially as we have some more new parts on the car that should help us build on the step forward we saw from my team mate’s car in Bahrain.

“We’ll be running the new parts from Friday and we’re not going to make any predictions about what they’ll bring. The most important thing is that we get the set-up right with them first, then we can start really pushing and see where we are in quali and on Sunday. I’ve been at the factory in the last week with the engineers and in the simulator and I know we’re well prepared for the week ahead. The weather forecast is good for most of the weekend, not so much for Friday but it’ll be the same for everyone and we’ll be aiming for maximum mileage to give ourselves the best chance to get the most out of the new parts all weekend.”

Pastor Maldonado, Williams
2012 Qualifying - 2nd, 2012 Race - 1st

“It will be very special to return to Barcelona after my win there last season. Whilst all the drivers know the track very well and we have some good data from testing here earlier in the year, the track changes quite a lot so you still need to familiarise yourself with the conditions during practice and set up the car accordingly. The choice of tyre compound will also be a big factor on how well the teams handle the track conditions as the track can be quite hard on tyres. We are now entering a very important part of the season because the next couple of races are quite close to the factory, so there will be more opportunities for us to react to our performance on track and make changes to the car.”

Valtteri Bottas, Williams
2012 Qualifying - n/a, 2012 Race - n/a

“Whilst I have never raced at Barcelona in Formula One, I know the track really well as I’ve raced there in Formula Renault and Formula 3 and I’ve done a lot of testing with Williams at the circuit. The win last year in Barcelona was a big motivational boost for everyone and was a good example of what we can achieve when everything comes together. We are working hard to get back to that level and following a good aero test last week at Idiada and a number upgrades coming for this race, hopefully Barcelona can be the start of improved performance for us this year.”

Mike Coughlan, Williams technical director
“The Spanish Grand Prix is always one we look forward to as it is a track we all know well due to the amount of time spent there during winter testing. We also have fond memories of Pastor's win there last season. A lot of engine and chassis decisions are also based around Barcelona as teams have so much data from there. Track conditions can change a lot during the weekend, making it a challenge to get a good set-up. The track layout, with its high average speed, also makes it quite hard on tyres. Surprisingly it has a similar power sensitivity to Monaco, due to the long corners and demand on handling. As the first race back in Europe, traditionally many teams will bring upgrades to their cars - and we are no different. Following a successful aero test at Idiada last week, we have a number of upgrades which we will be looking to run over the coming races.”

Paul di Resta, Force India
2012 Qualifying - 13th, 2012 Race - 14th

“The car is performing well, especially in the heat, and we were also strong in the cooler conditions of China - so that’s a good sign. The key is making sure you find the right operating window whatever the conditions because that’s what makes the difference. We need to keep doing what we’re doing, but at the same time we know the return to Europe always sees every team bring more upgrades. Hopefully we can stay fighting with the big teams and keep picking up the points. I guess we have more data around Barcelona than anywhere else, but at the same time the temperatures will be much higher at this time of year. So I’d expect that to change things quite a lot and impact on the tyres. Also, it’s one of those tracks where you’re constantly chasing the right aero balance to cope with the long, high-speed corners, especially turn three. But when you come to the end of the lap you need the mechanical grip for the hairpins and chicanes.”

Adrian Sutil, Force India
2012 Qualifying - n/a, 2012 Race - n/a

“I know Barcelona really well from all the testing we’ve done there over the years. It is important, after three difficult races without points, to finish the race without any incidents. If I do that, I should have the pace to be among the front-runners. I have to do my job, avoid mistakes and hopefully my luck will change. Wherever we have gone so far, the car has been competitive, so the next few races should see us scoring points and close to the podium.”

Dr Vijay Mallya, Force India team principal
“The return to Europe after the first few flyaway races is an excellent moment to catch our breath and evaluate where we stand. Overall the balance is extremely positive for Sahara Force India with our best ever start to a season. In terms of points scored we are nine points up compared to last year and we’ve been up at the sharp end fighting with the big teams. After the pit stop problems in Malaysia, points finishes in China and Bahrain have set us back on the right path, but nobody in the team is taking it for granted and we will not rest on our laurels. At both the factory and at the track, everyone is working hard to ensure we can build on these good results. We intend to hold our ground and remain in the hunt for points and podiums. Looking at our drivers, the performances of Paul Di Resta confirm just how much he has matured as a driver. He’s delivering consistently every week and we are reaping the rewards of all his hard work. He suffered a difficult end to the 2012 season, but he’s shown great mental strength and determination to regroup over the winter and recapture his best form. He’s pushing the team on and demanding the best from everyone, which is what we need. Adrian Sutil has also shown his speed so far but the luck has not gone his way. The last two races have been very frustrating because he’s been the victim of other drivers’ mistakes. Without these incidents he would surely have scored well in both China and Bahrain. His race pace in Bahrain was remarkable because he was one of the fastest cars on track. Having come so tantalisingly close to the podium with Paul last time out, we head to Barcelona full of optimism. The hard work everyone is putting in is paying off and we hope to see the rewards this coming weekend.”

Pirelli
Paul Hembery, Pirelli motorsport director

“We’re introducing a revised version of our hard tyre in Spain, which is closer in characteristics to the 2012 tyre. This new tyre gives us a wider working temperature window - although it delivers a little bit less in terms of pure performance - but it should allow the teams to envisage an even wider variety of race strategies than before in combination with the other compounds, which remain unchanged this year. This is a decision that we’ve come to having looked at the data from the first four races, with the aim of further improving the spectacle of Formula One. In fact this is almost a tradition with us now, as we also introduced a revised version of the hard tyre for the Spanish Grand Prix in 2011, which was our first year in the sport. We’d expect the medium tyre to still be significantly faster and this is the one that the teams are likely to qualify on, whereas the hard is likely to be the preferred race tyre. As permitted by the current regulations, we’ll be supplying an extra set of prototype hard compound tyres for free practice, which will hopefully ensure that all the cars run throughout these sessions. It’s something we wanted to do to encourage all the teams to run as much as possible right from the start, especially with the rookie drivers, to give fans the spectacle they deserve to see.”

Jules Bianchi, Marussia
2012 Qualifying - n/a, 2012 Race - n/a

“Although my first four races have been quite positive - and a nice adventure for me personally - as a driver in my debut season it is good to be heading into the start of the European season. The tracks are very familiar to me from previous formulae and that just provides a further confidence with interpreting the information we collect and how we roll that back into performance. The team have spent a lot of time analysing our progress so it will be good to verify our findings with the package so far and of course to explore our new developments for Spain. I'm looking forward to getting busy in the car again.”

Max Chilton, Marussia
2012 Qualifying - n/a, 2012 Race - n/a

“It will be great to get back down to business in Spain, where there will be a lot to focus our attentions on. We've learned a lot in the first four races and quite a lot since, with the technical team having been hard at it in the break. What we bring to the Circuit de Catalunya is the product of four races of evaluation coupled with the next step in our ongoing development path, so it will be interesting to see how we can progress from Bahrain. On a personal level this is a track I enjoy and have raced at plenty of times, and that will also be useful as we work through a busy evaluation programme on Friday in particular. I'm looking forward to it.”

John Booth, Marussia team principal
“After a good long break since the Bahrain Grand Prix, we head into Europe feeling refreshed and prepared for the start of the next phase of races. It was a whirlwind start to the season for us in some ways and the past few weeks have allowed the drivers in particular to draw a little more breath. Barcelona is always an interesting race as it provides a very good barometer of car performance up and down the grid and also the benefit of the new upgrades most teams will bring to their cars. We are no exception and having tested here over two weeks pre-season, we'll be taking the opportunity to use that baseline data to further analyse our progress to date, conducting some back to back work with our Bahrain package prior to fielding our new developments for this race. Bahrain has always been a race that we have struggled at so we are hoping that the Circuit de Catalunya will provide further confirmation of the positive development direction we have been following.”

Jenson Button, McLaren
2012 Qualifying - 11th, 2012 Race - 9th

“The start of the European season in Spain always feels like a fresh start to the year. Suddenly, you’re back in Europe, the motorhomes and transporters are all lined up in the paddock, and it feels like a second home for everyone. It’s been difficult for the team to make consistent progress through the first four races, but I think returning to a circuit where we undertook two of the pre-season tests will give us a useful benchmark of our progress so far.

“There’s been a lot of talk about the importance of next weekend’s upgrades; but, as with every upgrade, they’re simply part of the series of continuous improvement that are made across the season. As always, there’ll be elements of it that work, elements that perhaps work in a different way to what we’d anticipated, and elements that don’t work, or perhaps require further work. That’s life in modern Formula One. So I’m pragmatic about what we’ll discover next weekend. Of course, I’m hopeful that it’ll move us a step closer towards the destination.”

Sergio Perez, McLaren
2012 Qualifying - 6th, 2012 Race - DNF

“I’m looking forward to having my first European race for Vodafone McLaren Mercedes. The Circuit de Catalunya is a place all Grand Prix drivers know well because we do a lot of miles there in the winter. It’ll be a good place to test the car as it’s a very demanding circuit aerodynamically. We have a lot of historic data from our testing there, and we’ll get a good read on our performance when we start testing next Friday. It’s quite a demanding circuit aerodynamically, too, so it should be a very useful weekend for us in terms of understanding the MP4-28 and the direction forwards that we choose to take.

“I hope that the introduction of two DRS zones at Barcelona will help improve the racing. We saw in both China and Bahrain that Formula One cars can race really closely if they are under the right conditions; Barcelona has always been a difficult circuit for overtaking, so I hope the new regulations will improve matters. It would be great for the thousands in the grandstands if there were some spectacular overtaking along the main straight.”

Martin Whitmarsh, McLaren team principal
“The pace of life in Formula One never relents, and it’s incredible to think that our return to Europe next week will see a quarter of the 2013 championship already gone. As with last year, form at the start of the season is still somewhat volatile and unpredictable; last year’s Spanish Grand Prix saw an unexpected but worthy winner in Pastor Maldonado, and while it would be difficult to see another left-field runner emerging as a contender for victory, the formbook is still hard to read. We are pushing ahead to develop MP4-28, and will be hoping for a productive weekend that will allow us to gather a useful data set for the races ahead.”

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull
2012 Qualifying - 8th, 2012 Race - 6th

“The whole Barcelona circuit is interesting as it includes all types of corners and offers a really good mix, but my favourite part is still the first sector, because it has really quick corners. It’s good to be back in Europe, and in Spain in particular. The atmosphere is always very special at the European races and the weather is usually good too. It helps that the travelling time to and from events is shorter and there’s no need to adapt to a time difference.”

Mark Webber, Red Bull
2012 Qualifying - 12th, 2012 Race - 11th

“[My favourite bit of the track is] the first sector, I like the exit of Turn 2 into Turn 3. I also like Turn 13, which is a weird little right hander, downhill, blind corner, but I think it’s quite a nice little corner to get right. It’s a little bit easier [racing back in Europe]; obviously the travel is very convenient and everything is within a striking distance of two hours. We all know the hotels well and the drill of how to get around. It’s much more straightforward than some of the new venues; it’s a nice time to be racing in Europe with the weather generally and it’s a good atmosphere.”

Kimi Raikkonen, Lotus
2012 Qualifying - 5th, 2012 Race - 3rd

“I have won twice in Barcelona and I was on the podium there last year too, so I really look forward to going there again; hopefully to end the weekend with another good result. It’s a circuit where you have to get everything exactly right to be at the top. All the teams have tested many times at this circuit, so to get an advantage there is not very easy. The set-up is crucial as the track changes with the wind and temperature so there’s plenty of work for the engineers too. I really like racing in Europe. We don’t have to travel that far so all your energy is saved for the weekend itself. Traditionally the real season starts when coming back to Europe. For me, it’s great.”

Romain Grosjean, Lotus
2012 Qualifying - 4th, 2012 Race - 4th

“Everyone knows Barcelona very well from testing. The first four corners which make up the first sector are pretty fast, then there’s the slow final sector with between turns 10-15. Out of turn 15 you need a good rear end of the car with strong traction. It’s important not to overheat your rear tyres and managing degradation will be important - even with the harder tyres which are now allocated - as when you reach high degradation levels on your tyres you are nowhere on lap time. Tyre management will still be the key area for a good performance in the race. In Barcelona it will be important to qualify well as it will be much harder to overtake than in Bahrain. As a team, this is an area where we can still improve a little bit, but we have some ideas of how to do that and hopefully we’ll be able to make the front row.”

Eric Boullier, Lotus team principal
“We always want to win and our podium successes this year seem to have made us all the more hungry to taste the champagne. We know we are facing other equally competitive teams and only one team and driver get to stand on that top step at each race. Of course, it would be fantastic to start our European season with a win. We have a strong development programme for the E21 and I’m confident we can continue to improve it through the year, just as we did with the E20 before it. Most teams tend to bring a fairly major upgrade package to the first European race of the season and we’ll be no exception. I’m very pleased with how the development of the this car is progressing and I think there’s plenty more to come from us.”

James Allison, Lotus technical director
“Barcelona is similar in many regards to Bahrain; it’s hard on the tyres with some challenging fast stuff thrown in. It’s not so obviously rear-limited as Bahrain, but is nevertheless a circuit that challenges the tyres which has been a strength of the E21 thus far. That said, the start of the so-called European season - where many teams unleash a raft of their latest upgrades - could shake up the order somewhat. What do we have in the upgrade cupboard for Catalunya? Nothing revolutionary, but plenty which should help us go faster. We have new front wing endplate detailing, new aero around the rear drums, modifications to the diffuser and a different top rear wing so there’s plenty to help keep us in the hunt. Spain is certain to be cooler than Bahrain, but it’s not that dissimilar. It’s a circuit where the outcome of the race isn’t only determined by whether you’re on pole position, but rather by a combination of how far up the grid you are, how good your car is on race pace, how you manage the tyres and your race strategy. In pre-season we did one of the best race simulation runs at the final Barcelona test. But it’s always difficult to tell what everyone’s doing in testing and that was a good few months ago now. The familiarity (of the track) means you’re not hunting around for things like ride heights, weight distributions, aero balance or roll stiffness as you know roughly where you want to be and it’s a matter of fine tuning rather than finding your feet from scratch. That said, we know all of the circuits pretty well…”

Remi Taffin, Renault Sport F1 head of track operations
“The 4.655km long Circuit de Catalunya is a medium downforce, medium engine demand track used extensively in testing as it has a very good ‘average’ of characteristics of other circuits on the calendar. In fact it is currently used in part for our engine sign off process. There are a variety of low and medium speed corners that push the RS27 on the lower rev ranges, particularly in sector three, but 55% of the track is also taken at full throttle. The longest period of full throttle is of course the pit straight. This length gives the opportunity for a fully charged KERS to be deployed twice as the KERS energy counter resets on the start/finish line. While a double KERS release in the race is useful to overtake, it puts a lot of stress on the KERS cooling system. We don’t think it will be a major problem for us as cooling efficiency is a key element in our package, but it does need to be carefully monitored. Setting up the right top gear in these conditions is then quite a big challenge! The undulating nature of the track also puts the engine internals under pressure so every element of the engine gets a full workout here. The first corner is quite representative of this as the driver accelerates as the track goes uphill. In addition to monitoring the fluid systems, we also need to deliver a smooth torque curve to give controlled power to counter the high g. Going into the European season we are very motivated. The Bahrain result was a good fillip – not only did it keep the record of a Renault-powered car finishing on the podium every race this year, it was the first triple podium for Renault engines since Bahrain 2012 and the 50th win for the RS27 V8 unit. More importantly however is the fact we are delivering consistency across our teams. We now need to keep this rhythm and momentum going.”

Nico Rosberg, Mercedes
2012 Qualifying - 7th, 2012 Race - 7th

“I'm looking forward to travelling to Spain next weekend. We know that the car went very well at the Circuit de Catalunya in pre-season testing so I am hopeful that we can have a strong weekend. We will have to wait and see how our pace compares however. I've been in the factory for a couple of days this week, on the simulator and meeting with the team, and everyone has been working hard to make progress on our race day performance. It will be an interesting weekend and once we see how everyone performs in Barcelona, it should give a good idea of how the rest of the season will look.”

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes
2012 Qualifying - DSQ (1st), 2012 Race - 8th

“It feels like a long time since Bahrain so we're all looking forward to getting to Barcelona next weekend and starting to get into the routine of the European season. The short break has been good however, and I've had the chance to catch up with family and friends, and also spend some time at the factory with the guys, working on our efforts to improve. We've been boosted by the results that we've had at the start of the season and to come away from the first four races with two third and two fifth places feels like a real achievement. I'm feeling very comfortable in the car now and we know the areas that we need to improve so a lot of effort is being put in to close that gap to the front-runners. Barcelona should be a good test as we know the circuit so well having completed most of the pre-season test programme there. The weekend should be a good benchmark of the progress we have made since then.”

Ross Brawn, Mercedes team principal
“In the two weeks since we returned from Bahrain, there has been a lot of hard work taking place in Brackley and Brixworth to prepare for the start of the European season in Barcelona next weekend. We have focused our efforts in two key areas; finalising our upgrade package for Spain and understanding our comparative lack of race pace in Bahrain. We have made progress in the latter area and will evaluate some developments over the upcoming race weekends to help improve the situation. We're not there yet but we are making progress and of course, performing in the race is what really counts. The Circuit de Catalunya is a circuit that we know well and we have a lot of data from the two pre-season tests to help prepare for the weekend. However in the late spring conditions, we can expect the track to be of a very different nature to what we experienced earlier this year. Overtaking is more difficult there than at some of the early season tracks and, of course, every team will be bringing new developments so the weekend should provide an interesting challenge.”

Toto Wolff, Mercedes team executive director
“The three-week break between the Bahrain and Spanish Grands Prix was welcome, as it gave us extra time to analyse in detail what happened at the last race. We have built a good picture of our varying levels of race performance and why we under-performed overall in Bahrain. In Barcelona, we will test some solutions aimed at improving our tyre management in addition to our planned upgrade package. The circuit itself is well known as a benchmark for aerodynamic performance and we performed strongly there at the end of winter testing. The track conditions and temperatures will be very different on the race weekend, though, so we must dial the car in to those circumstances. Our target is to improve our Sunday afternoon performance to match what we have delivered on Saturday in the past two races. It will certainly be interesting to see what gains everybody has made since the last time we were at the circuit and how the planned upgrade packages work from car to car.”

Nico Hulkenberg, Sauber
2012 Qualifying - 14th, 2012 Race - 10th

“I’m looking forward to the Spanish Grand Prix because it kicks off this season’s European races. Barcelona is a nice city where you can get a real feel for the Spanish lifestyle. We know the Circuit de Catalunya well, of course, from the winter tests. However, since winter testing many things have changed and also the climate will be different from the one we had in February, which you have to take into consideration. The circuit is diverse. The first two sectors are fast with fast, long corners, which require good down force and a well-balanced car, whereas the third sector is quite technical. The aero updates we bring to this race will show how well our car is suited to this track.”

Esteban Gutierrez, Sauber
2012 Qualifying - n/a, 2012 Race - n/a

“The first time I raced in Barcelona was in 2008. I know the track and during the winter tests I was also able to experience driving a Formula One car there. As the first of a series of European races, I think it is going to be an exciting event and I’m looking forward to that. The track is quite demanding, especially the last sector. Tyre management will be crucial here, and, especially during a qualifying lap, you need to nurse your tyres in the first two sectors in order to get a clean third sector. You must make sure the tyres still have good grip when you approach the final corners of the lap, including the chicane. We have to wait and see if the updates will help us to catch up with the guys further up the field.”

Tom McCullough, Sauber head of track engineering
“Although Barcelona is a track we know well from winter testing, the higher temperatures do change how the tyres perform, so we have to adapt to that. The first two sectors are biased towards higher speed corners, whereas the third sector is dominated by a technical sequence of lower speed corners, hence the set-up is always a compromise. The option tyre will be the medium compound and for the prime Pirelli are re-introducing the 2012 hard compound for this event. We have some further aero updates, including a modified rear wing, and we will be evaluating these during Friday practice. Qualifying is particularly important here as overtaking can be difficult in the race. Our target for the race is to finish with both cars in the points.”

More to follow

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