The European phase of the F1 calendar begins at Spain's famous Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, where most teams will be debuting their first major tech updates of the season. Those involved look ahead to the Formula 1 Gran Premio de Espana Pirelli 2017...
Spain preview quotes - Williams, Renault, Sauber, Toro Rosso & more
"Barcelona is a track that most of the drivers know pretty well. It's a little bit like a home Grand Prix for everybody because we're always testing there! You need good downforce for the high-speed sections, and you also need very good traction in the last sector. We had a good pre-season test there this year, but this is where it counts. I really hope we can have a good weekend without any unlucky incidents like we had in Sochi."
"While I know Barcelona well from testing there in series like Formula Renault and Formula 3 and obviously the Formula One tests before the start of the season, I have never actually raced on the track. It is a track I love and there are particular parts of it I really like. For instance I enjoy the first sector, which is high speed for corners one, two and three and even into four and five. This part is really flowing. Then the last sector becomes tight, twisty and technical. Having said that, it is still a tricky one. On top of that I really like the city of Barcelona and look forward to staying there. It has a lot of atmosphere and some amazing areas."
Paddy Lowe, Chief Technical Officer
"We come to the first European race of the season. After the Russian Grand Prix this is the first time that we have seen all the cars and freight come back to the factory since everything headed out to Australia in early March. It marks a new phase in the calendar as we return to the familiar surrounds of the race trucks and motorhomes in the paddock. It's also normally the time we see the first major upgrades brought to the cars, which is even more significant this year given the new aerodynamic regulations. The circuit itself is one we are well acquainted with, having completed all of our pre-season testing there. This circuit provides a very challenging test of the car's performance, particularly the aerodynamics through Turns Three and Nine and the suspension through the third sector. We didn't get all the points we wanted in Russia but we can see the potential in the car and therefore our aim is to bring home two cars with points finishes in Spain."
"I'm feeling good. The car is improving at every race and we can deliver. It's a track we all know really well after testing there so much so all the engineers have a lot of data and knowledge about it. I personally like the layout, especially the first sector with turns 1-2-3, which have added value thanks to the fastest cars this season. It's a physical circuit with all the high speed right handers so you need a strong neck; you'll really know about it by the end of the race."
"The outlook is good. We've seen what the R.S.17 is capable of and I know that all I need to score points is a straightforward weekend. Russia was really frustrating as I had a good car under me but I was out of the race by the second corner. That's motor racing, but it's still very frustrating.
"The Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya has a couple [of corners] really take my fancy: turn three's a really long, fast corner, and then turn nine as well is a really good one; it's quick and it's blind to the exit so you really have to commit. It's certainly one of the more physical circuits as there are a lot of long, fast corners, lots of high lateral Gs that put your neck and your core under strain. For the long corners the aero is really important, and with the DRS on the straight and the tyre degradation we see there, there's potential for a good race."
Nick Chester, Chassis Technical Director
"The outlook is pretty good. We've been qualifying well so far this season, then Sochi showed a useful improvement to our race pace. We've still got a few more upgrades on the aerodynamic package for Spain, so we're reasonably positive.
"The upgrades we used in Sochi worked as expected so we made a useful step in our race pace whilst maintaining qualifying pace. There's still more to do in this area, but we're heading in the right direction. We're in the midfield fight where we expected to be, but it's a very close battle here so we need to ensure we seize every advantage possible from the car and how we use it. We have new barge boards and an updated rear wing. We need to keep adding performance to the car as that's what everyone else is fighting to do. We've started the season on a positive note so we need to maintain and improve this."
Cyril Abiteboul, Renault Sport Racing Managing Director
"Russia saw a good race for Nico where he was able to maximise our race strategy and showcase that our latest updates brought a step forward in race pace.
"For Jolyon, it's been a tough start to the season; if there's been an issue affecting the car, you can almost guarantee it happens his side of the garage. This is something we are responding to by ensuring each and every reliability issue that impacts upon performance is addressed and so much work occurs in this regard away from the track at Enstone and Viry. We know that Jolyon has deep reserves and can bounce back well. We saw last year how he came on strong in the second half of the season so we're working hard to give him the car in which he can deliver.
"On both the chassis and power unit side, we have shown a good step forward in performance so we need to ensure we can harness this reliably at every opportunity. On the chassis side, we are free to introduce any upgrades at every race; on the power unit side we have work to the regulation constraints however the power unit performance will continue to improve through the season."
"The Spanish Grand Prix is the traditional race weekend to start the European season of Formula 1. We all know the Circuit de Catalunya very well, as lots of testing has been done there. At this time of the year, it will be different to winter testing as the temperatures are much higher. It will surely be an interesting race weekend for the fans and also for us, because all teams introduce their car updates there. We will also bring first modifications to the car, which we will then enhance and further develop within the next GPs. I am looking forward to this weekend being confident that we make another step in the right direction."
"It is always nice to start the European season of Formula 1 at the Spanish Grand Prix. I like the track; it is a demanding circuit for us drivers, but also from a car perspective. The the layout is quite diverse with all kinds of different corners – from low, medium to high speed. Considering the race weekend, it will be important for us to introduce some new aerodynamic parts on the car. I am positive that we can further develop the car in order to make progress, and thus improve the performance on track."
“Racing in your team mate's country definitely means less attention on yourself, which can sometimes be quite okay as it lets you focus more on the driving. This is because, usually, most of the events are done by your team mate when it's his home country… It becomes his duty and we swap – I've done just that in Russia a couple of weeks ago! Now it's Carlos' turn.
“I know many Spanish words and speak this language quite well. Carlos and I have been team mates for many years, so it's been easy to practice it and keep learning new words… I already had a good baseline, as I studied it as a second language at school in Italy when I was younger. It's a language I like and it wasn't difficult to learn.
“We do a lot of testing in Barcelona, which means it's a track we all know very well – it has many different kind of corners, high and low speed, and every section has a different character, which is interesting. I'd say there are really no surprises for us here! My favourite corners are Turns 3 and 9, they're cool! Generally speaking, Spain is a nice circuit for me. Having collected plenty of data at the test, we will now need to get everything absolutely perfect in order to be in good shape this weekend. I've finished 10th in Spain for the last two years, but I hope it's higher than that this year!
“I also like the Spanish food. During a race weekend we can't really go mad, as we follow a strict diet, but I have to say that I really enjoy Spanish food and I always try to sneak in a few tapas, especially some jamon, at some point during the weekend… If my trainer lets me!”
“When racing at home, the feeling is so different to any other race – every time you drive out on track you know there's more people watching and cheering for you, and this makes the whole weekend very special. I've been to the Barcelona track since I was nine years old, and now I'm the one racing there, it's just amazing. Of course the whole weekend is also a bit busier than normal, but you just do everything with a big smile on your face, as I know I'm a very lucky person.
“To have my own grandstand is awesome. It's an initiative that we started last year and it worked so well, there was such a huge amount of support from the fans, that this year we're doing it again. We will be more than 4,000 people there this year, so it will be even bigger and more special than in 2016. It will be amazing to drive past them every lap, I just can't wait and I hope that this becomes a tradition every year!
“I have such good memories of my Spanish Grands Prix! It's very special to know that my two best race weekends as a Formula 1 driver have happened at my home GP. This means that all the support I receive works, I get an extra boost and, all together, we become very strong. I hope I'm able to keep it this way this year and add another good memory to the list!
“My food during a race weekend is always the same, no matter where we're racing in the world. The fact of being at home doesn't change much: maybe just on Sunday night, if there's something to celebrate, we go for proper Spanish food – especially jamon!
“I've also attended a few MotoGP races in Barcelona. I really like the atmosphere of this sport, I think it's quite similar to the one we live in Formula 1. I really enjoy watching two and four wheel racing! I have some good friends in the MotoGP Paddock, like Marquez or Espargaro, so I always try and show them my support when I can.”
“Barcelona is a track that really tests a Formula One car. There are some quick corners that feel very special, such as turns three and nine, where you can appreciate the aero performance of these 2017 cars. It’s always a difficult track for overtaking and so there is extra emphasis on qualifying well.
“When you get to Europe, you feel that the season is in full flow. It’s race five – a quarter of the way through the season – and the year is flying by really quickly. I’m very proud of the team and what we have achieved so far. To be fourth in the championship as we arrive in Barcelona shows that we’ve done a really good job in the races so far. Russia was another example of a weekend where we maximised all the opportunities.
“It’s hard to know what to expect this weekend. I think all the teams will bring new things for their cars and it’s the same for us. We have planned updates, which will hopefully give us a bit more performance.”
“I’m feeling positive after our performance in Sochi. It shows the results we can achieve when everything goes to plan because we improved the car during each session. The team did an awesome job because I felt comfortable in the car and could really push. It’s a good sign for the races to come and I feel we have lots more potential to find with the VJM10.
“Coming back to Barcelona is an opportunity to see how much we have improved the car since winter testing. It’s a track that shows your strengths and weaknesses because there is nowhere to hide. It’s all about aero performance and having confidence.
“I’m quite pleased to be back in Europe. It’s closer to home and it just feels a bit more familiar because I’ve raced at Barcelona so many times when I was younger. I really enjoy the flow of the lap and there are corners, such as one and two, where you can’t afford to make a mistake because it hurts your speed all the way through turn three. The final sector is also very technical and you need to be very precise with how you position the car to ensure you don’t lose any time.”
Andrew Green, technical director
“The Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya is a track we know very well because of pre-season testing, but it’s very interesting to see the development in the car that took place since we were last here. Mid-May is also very different from February: the increased temperatures make it a very different track from the one we tackled back then. Compared to Russia, it’s a much harder test for the tyres and we expect wear and degradation to be much higher. It is one of the reasons we are using the three hardest compounds in the range – soft, medium and hard. As a circuit, it is a challenge from turn one to the final corner. Driver, car and tyres do not get much rest, although it is fairly easy on the brakes. You have medium- and high-speed corners making up most of the first two sectors, while the final one is mostly low-speed, meaning you have to find the right compromises when setting the car up. Overtaking is very difficult, so qualifying position is crucial: the Saturday afternoon session will be a very interesting fight.”
Vijay Mallya, team principal
“Ahead of the European leg of the season, we can look back on the start of the year feeling pretty happy. We continued our 100% points-scoring record by adding another 14 points in Sochi to consolidate our fourth place in the championship. I’m proud of the team and how we are performing. We’re taking our chances and racing intelligently. Sergio’s remarkable consistency continued with a fourteenth straight points finish, while Esteban secured his best ever result in Formula One with a seventh place. To have scored points with both cars in every race gives me confidence for the rest of the year. We want to hold on to fourth place. Our planned development programme will continue in Barcelona where hopefully we can take another step forward with the VJM10.”
“I’m really excited about returning to Barcelona for the Spanish Grand Prix. It’s my home race, I’ve had some great times there, and the atmosphere is always crazy. We spend a lot of time there in pre-season testing, but there’s nothing quite like the emotion of racing there in front of your home fans. It’s a very special feeling.
“After a run of difficult races for us, I’m not sure what we can expect from this weekend. We’re expecting some various new parts – which we bring to every race – but we can’t really focus too much on performance until we have solved our reliability issues. That’s always our focus.
“I know the team is working extremely hard to get to the bottom of our recent problems, and I am hopeful we can have a smooth race and a weekend with very few issues. For me, qualifying has been an exciting session in the past few races and I hope we can repeat that in Barcelona, but the most important thing will be to maximise whatever grid slot we achieve on Saturday, on race day.”
“Although we weren’t proud of our performance at the Russian Grand Prix, we could still take some positives from the weekend and I’m pleased I was able to finish the race, after a few tough weekends. It was important for me to get some more mileage under my belt, and we managed to gather a lot of valuable information, which is helping to shape the development of both the chassis and the power unit as we continue through the season.
“I’m looking forward to starting the European season at the Spanish Grand Prix. I know the circuit well from previous races I’ve done there and of course from pre-season testing, and we have a lot of useful data about the track and the way the car behaves there. Hopefully this will mean we can start the weekend on a positive note and have a smooth weekend.
“The Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya is a fun track to drive, and pretty fast, so it’s quite demanding for both the car and the driver. It’s very tricky to overtake there, and, as it’s a quick track, average speed is quite high, so it’ll be a challenging one for us. It’s traditionally a circuit that’s tough on tyres, but I’m interested to see how the new compounds will change how the race unfolds. As always, though, I’m ready for the challenge and excited to go racing again.”
Eric Boullier, Racing Director
“While the start of the year and the first round of fly-away races have not been easy for McLaren-Honda, we’re looking forward to returning to the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya for the Spanish Grand Prix, marking the start of the European leg of the season.
“We don’t anticipate a huge change of fortunes at this race, but getting Stoffel to the end of the grand prix in Sochi was a small reward for all the hard work being put in behind the scenes to address our reliability issues, and hopefully a sign of more positive things to come for the team.
“Like the majority of teams, we’ll be taking this opportunity to introduce some new elements to the car, and, with the enthusiasm of the Spanish fans behind us, I hope we’ll be able to complete some solid running and see an improvement in our reliability. It would be good to kick off the European races with some positive momentum, and what better place than in Spain with the full support of the passionate Spanish crowd.”
Yusuke Hasegawa, Honda R&D Co. Ltd Head of F1 Project & Executive Chief Engineer
“After wrapping up the first of this seasons fly-away races, we’re now heading to Spain to kick off the European rounds of the championship.
“The first few races have been challenging for us, with a number of reliability issues plaguing our running. We’re continuing to work hard as a team to improve both the reliability and the performance of our power unit moving forward.
“The Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya is a technical circuit with a mixture of various types of corners. Its character is different to that of the first four races, which were typically power circuits and it’ll be less strenuous on the power unit. The most important focus for us in Spain will be the total balance of the car, therefore we’ll aim to maximise our time in each practice session to work out the best balance of the car with McLaren.
“We’re hoping to have a good race here and build some momentum for the coming races. It’s also Fernando’s home race, so we want to give him the best package possible in front of his home crowd.” Pirelli
Mario Isola, Head of Car Racing
“This is the last race where allocations are fixed for every team: as of Monaco, drivers are making their own choices about the quantities of each compound they would like to nominate. While Barcelona is a well-known venue, aerodynamic evolution of the cars, enhanced by the latest upgrade packages brought to Spain, mean that performance is increased but degradation levels could also be higher compared to testing. We can additionally expect weather conditions considerably warmer than February.”
“Everyone knows Barcelona very well. It’s good to judge which changes we’ve made and how much we’ve developed from winter testing to the race. I think Barcelona is going to be key in the season because it’s the first big update for a lot of drivers and teams. That’s where we need to see what we’ve done, and if it’s good enough or if we want more.
“We’ve got some pretty big updates coming. It’s going to be the first big test for us in 2017. The year is going to be mainly driven by updates and the performance it brings to the car. I think the car that was on pole in Melbourne, if you bring it to Abu Dhabi at the end of the year, I’m not even sure you’d make it to Q2. I’m pretty sure you cannot. Updates this year are going to be big, so I’m looking forward to that.
“I’m pleased with where the car is. We’re usually on the border line for getting into Q3. Now the big question is what the updates are going to do? How much of an upgrade are we going to get compared to others? I believe we’re on a good path, but you never know what the others are doing. It’s going to be good to go to Barcelona and see the work we’ve done.
“It’s a very demanding track because you’ve got some high-speed corners, like the first sector, then you’ve got some very low-speed sections and corners, like the last sector of the track. It’s normally a good judge for the car, showing that you’re capable of having some good downforce at high speed and good mechanical grip in the low-speed turns.”
“We have some upgrades coming for Barcelona. It’s always interesting to see what they can bring. Hopefully, it will be positive.
“It’s a pretty tough track. There are some fast corners there that pull on the neck, some good braking zones. It’s always a pretty physical track but I look forward to it.”
Guenther Steiner, team principal
“We’re bringing our first extensive update kit to Barcelona, as all the other modifications we’ve done have been very small. We hope it works like everything else that has come out of the wind tunnel and is very reliable in terms of the correlation from wind tunnel to track. We hope to make a step forward. There are always unknowns with a new update kit, therefore we don’t want to disclose too much and be too hopeful. Some people might notice - it will be visible - but not straight away. It’s nothing big on the outside.”
"Barcelona is one of the better circuits on the calendar and it's got a bit of everything. Turns 1, 2 and 3 are really good flowing corners and the last section is very technical. The end of the lap is quite slow and that's where your tyres start to drop off which is why it's really hard to finish the lap clean.
"We'll have the Energy Station back in Barcelona so that's nice and it'll be an easier environment to prepare in. We've got it now for a few months and that means that we can actually put some things in our room that we can come back to. Little things that give us privacy and that home feeling like favourite snacks, training equipment or our own shower.
"I hope the upgrade will give us a chance to really fight with Mercedes and Ferrari or at least get us closer. The reason why it comes in Barcelona is that we put everything back in the factory were very busy so now I hope that it's a quicker improvement. It means that the people who do the work behind the scenes get their reward as well. It's a good feeling for everyone when these upgrades work.
"We're going for the harder tyres for the first time this year in Barcelona. I'm not sure if it'll help us or not but I just don't think it's going to be good for anyone. The tyres are already hard enough so the harder compounds are just way too hard. Hopefully for Barcelona's sake it's hot and therefore these harder tyres work, but if it's cold then it's going to be a struggle for everyone."
"We're finally back in Europe for the Spanish Grand Prix which is exciting, especially so for me this year. It means familiar food and more of a normal, comforting driver room with the Energy Station there. You get to chill out and prepare in your own room which is worth a lot if you're travelling as much as we do.
"Around this time last year I got the call to join Red Bull Racing, which was a great feeling, and then when it got announced everything happened really fast. I spent a lot of time in the factory getting prepared in the simulator in order to get used to the car. A lot of media attention, but I wasn't really nervous, just happy that I was finally driving for a top team.
"Last year was such a special race to me and in the end we managed to pull it off. It was an incredible feeling once I passed the finish line, especially in your first race with a new team. Going back to Spain will always mean a lot to me.
"Track wise I really like Turn 3 as it's flat and quite a long corner so that's good neck training. We have to wait and see what the updates will bring. I hope we can be a bit closer to the top teams or that we can at least follow them. That would already be a good step forward."
More to follow...