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Spain preview quotes - Caterham, Marussia, Williams & more

08 May 2014

With the opening flyaway leg of the season complete, the F1 paddock returns to Europe next weekend for the fifth round of the 2014 FIA Formula One World Championship, the Formula 1 Gran Premio de Espana Pirelli 2014 in Barcelona. Those involved discuss their prospects for the event...


Nico Rosberg

2013 Qualifying - 1st, 2013 Race - 6th

"The Spanish Grand Prix is the first race of the season on European soil after four exciting races at various circuits overseas. This is where the next phase of the season begins and there is probably no other track in the world that I know as well as the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. I also have some good memories of race weekends in Barcelona. Last year, for example, I started from pole position so I'm looking forward to going back there again and maybe repeating that particular feat. It's also only now that we can slowly begin to get an idea of how the different cars stack up in terms of performance. Each team will have been pushing hard during the break since the last race to find some extra performance from new parts. So it will certainly be an interesting weekend and hopefully an exciting one for the fans too."

Lewis Hamilton

2013 Qualifying - 2nd, 2013 Race - 12th

"It's been good to have a bit of a break between races: for us as drivers and also for the team who have been working flat out for so many weeks. But after three great weekends in Malaysia, Bahrain and China I'm obviously keen to get on to the next one and continue that positive momentum into the next leg of the season. Barcelona is a great place to have the first European round on the calendar. It's a circuit we all know very well - although this is the first time in my Formula One career that I have raced there without testing at the circuit during the winter - and the Spanish crowds are really passionate about their racing. It's great to see so many people in the grandstands over the weekend. I've never won in Barcelona but I'm in a good place right now and I'm hoping that this will be the year, although it's clear who the fans' favourite will be! The circuit is fantastic, our car has performed well so far and I'm really looking forward to a good race."

Paddy Lowe, Mercedes team executive director (technical)

"Barcelona follows the first three-week gap of the season after a near constant testing and racing itinerary since late January. For our trackside personnel in particular, it's offered some respite and a chance to recharge the batteries for what is going to be a long year with the in-season tests also now on the calendar. The break in on-track action also presents an opportunity to work on the cars and to bring more new parts to the next event than you would see during back-to-back race weekends. Aside from being the first European race of the season, Barcelona is classically seen as the first big milestone for upgrades from the teams and we can expect to see quite a range of developments throughout the pit lane. The circuit itself is highly demanding on the cars: arguably requiring the best combination of power, handling and aerodynamics seen during the entire season. It's often said that a car which performs well in Barcelona will be a great car for the season, so we're looking forward to seeing where we stand relative to the competition. There has been no sense of complacency or backing off just because our car has shown strong performance in the opening few races. The objective is to not only match, but to better the development rate of our rivals and to build on our lead in both championships."

Toto Wolff, Mercedes team executive director

"We are now four races into the 2014 season and hold a strong position in both championships. However, the first European round of the year always provides a prime opportunity for teams to arrive with improvements to their cars. Of course, we are no different to any other team in that respect and our aim must be to increase the advantage we enjoyed at the last race in China. We have seen already that our rivals are relentless in their efforts to close the gap. As a team, it is up to us to rise to that challenge: to take that relentless mentality to an even greater extent than those around us. If we are to build a sustained level of success in this sport, any small advantage must be seen as a platform upon which to build a bigger advantage. We head to Barcelona on good form and in high spirits. But, most importantly, we approach the next race weekend as we approached the first: in the knowledge that there is still a long season ahead and anything can happen."


Adrian Sutil

2013 Qualifying - 13th, 2013 Race - 13th

"All of us drivers know the track in Barcelona quite well as everyone has tested there very often. The Circuit de Catalunya is a nice track with high aerodynamic demands on the car. There are some fast corners and only one long straight. The last sector is quite tight, therefore slower and not easy to drive. We have to find a compromise in terms of the car's aerodynamic set-up. With one setting the first and second sectors will be good, but the last sector will be a disadvantage, or vice versa. We will be travelling to Barcelona with some car updates, which I hope will help us to improve our performance. Obviously, I expect more than in the last races. After three retirements in a row, we need to finish this race. I am looking forward, and I think that our performance will be stronger than in the previous races."

Esteban Gutierrez

2013 Qualifying - 16th, 2013 Race - 11th

"The Spanish Grand Prix is the beginning of the European season, and where updates to the car will be introduced. For us it is an opportunity to improve our level of competitiveness. I have faith in my team, everyone is doing their best. We are positive and expect to make a step forward. Regarding the track, I really enjoy driving on the Circuit de Catalunya. In every category I have raced in, I have always enjoyed the atmosphere there. Last year was very positive for me because I did the fastest lap in the race. I am fully prepared to go for the maximum and to get the most out of the car."

Giedo van der Garde, test and reserve driver

"It is nice to come back to Europe and especially to Barcelona. The Circuit de Catalunya is a track that I like a lot. We will have some updates and our C33 will weigh less, so it will be interesting to see how the car behaves. I am positive, and I am keen to get back behind the wheel. After FP1 on Friday I will have a full day of testing on Tuesday, so I am looking forward to that."

Giampaolo Dall'Ara, Sauber head of track engineering

"At the Spanish Grand Prix both C33s will have essential revisions, following an extensive weight reduction and a significant aerodynamic update. This update consists of a modified front wing and a new engine cover, new side-pod fins and deflectors, as well as a number of other aerodynamic changes. Besides that, we will also have a software improvement which will enable us to use the potential of the power unit in a better way. We expect a busy Friday at the track while tuning the set-up to the new package. Making the best use of the tyre compounds will also be a challenge, as Pirelli's choice to allocate medium and hard tyres appears to be conservative. We very much look forward to converting everyone's efforts into improved lap times. However, we know that all the other teams are progressing as well, so it will be interesting to see where we stand. We will certainly do our best in order to race for points."

Red Bull

Sebastian Vettel

2013 Qualifying - 3rd, 2013 Race - 4th

“Formula One returns to Europe with the Spanish GP. A nice side aspect of that is that we are back in the Energy Station, which provides a lot of space for us and the team - it will become a little bit like home over the next few weeks! The Circuit de Catalunya is varied with 180 degree bends, fast, sweeping corners and elevation changes. There isn’t much opportunity to overtake, so getting a good start position in qualifying will be crucial. The long, fast curves of Montmelo mean that it will suit a car with highly efficient aerodynamics. The track is very challenging on the tyres because of the same very fast corners, so lots of pit stops are likely in the race.”

Daniel Ricciardo

2013 Qualifying - 11th, 2013 Race - 10th

“I’ve always enjoyed the Circuit de Catalunya and think it’s a great track. It’s a ‘bit of everything’ circuit - which is why it’s proved so popular as a testing venue. The first sector is really nice, with the corners all flowing together and the second sector, while a bit more technical, is also really interesting. The final sector is less good but you can understand why they changed it; I assume the old layout was more exciting. It’s a good track to defend on, but one that demands a lot of concentration and the right set-up. The trade-off is that you need fairly low downforce on the long main straight but that compromises the rest of your lap and makes the car difficult to control. Finding the right balance isn’t simple.”

Toro Rosso

Jean-Eric Vergne

2013 Qualifying - 12th, 2013 Race - DNF

“This race marks the start of the European season and it’s very important from one point of view - no more jet lag and a lot less flying! It’s also a circuit that all the drivers know very well, having raced there many times in the junior categories and so usually the gaps between the teams are a bit smaller than at other tracks. I like it and have good memories from winning races there in the past. It’s the sort of track where the global picture of the car makes the difference, in terms of its balance and aero package, as it’s not particularly demanding on the brakes or engine. I like the city of Barcelona, it’s got a good vibe to it and, on top of that, it’s not so far from France, so quite a few fans make the trip for this first race in Europe.”

Daniil Kvyat

2013 Qualifying - n/a, 2013 Race - n/a

“Like all the drivers, I have spent a lot of time at this circuit, racing and testing. I’ve had some good results there, I particularly remember a Eurocup race in 2011, when I started from 20th and finished third. There were also some painful memories, when I lost the Eurocup there one year later, but overall, I have learned many valuable lessons at the Catalunya circuit. I’m looking forward to being back in Europe and having some shorter flights. It will all feel more familiar to me. Here at this track, you need to find the right compromise between the high speed and slow sections, so finding the right balance in the set-up is the key to a quick lap. I have no idea how the track will suit the STR9, except that so far this year, we have been okay in the high-speed corners. We won’t know until Friday.”

Force India

Nico Hulkenberg

2013 Qualifying - 15th, 2013 Race - 15th

“Even though we know the place inside out, it remains a tough, tricky circuit and one of those places where it’s especially important to optimise the car balance. If you don’t feel totally comfortable with the car it really hurts your lap time. Barcelona is the true test for downforce because of the quick corners in the first and second sectors. Traction is also important in the final part of the lap with the low-speed corners and we should be strong there.”

Sergio Perez

2013 Qualifying - 9th, 2013 Race - 9th

“I love coming back to Europe to race on some of the classic circuits. I enjoy Barcelona and for me it’s one of the best circuits on the whole calendar. It’s very complete with a mix of everything and some very long, quick corners. It’s tough physically, especially on the neck with so many right hand corners, but it’s a fun place to drive a Formula One car. It’s always a race where teams bring new updates so it’s going to be interesting to see how everyone will perform there.”

Dr Vijay Mallya, Force India team principal

“It’s encouraging that we have performed well across a wide range of circuits, so I’m optimistic that we can maintain our competitive form in Barcelona. China has never been an especially strong track for us, so to come away with ten points was a very good effort. We also expect our car to perform better in warmer conditions and there are some upcoming races that will play more to our strengths. At the same time we know that Formula One never stands still and Barcelona is always a pivotal moment in the development race, but I’m optimistic we can keep up our momentum.”


Paul Hembery, Pirelli motorsport director

“It’s often said that Barcelona provides the most accurate representation of the form a season will take, because a car that performs well in Barcelona should perform well everywhere. The same is true of the tyres, because the Spanish circuit is one of the most demanding circuits we race on all year. Long and fast corners such as Turn Three put a huge amount of energy into the tyres, as a result of which degradation is high. The track surface is also quite abrasive, and ambient temperatures can be high, which increase the workload on the tyres further. In the past we’ve seen up to four pit stops in Spain. With the changes we have made to the tyres this year, we would now hope to see no more than three for the majority of drivers. We made a solid start to our preparations for next year with the first dedicated in-season tyre tests in Bahrain. We’re looking forward to building on that work with four teams in Spain after the Grand Prix.”


Romain Grosjean

2013 Qualifying - 7th, 2013 Race - DNF

“Barcelona means the start of the European season. That also means we can travel less, which is good because I’ve now seen every single movie on the plane! But seriously it’s easier for the engineers to bring new parts to the track and it’s always nice to see European fans. I’m happy to be back in Barcelona. I have some good memories and it’s a track where I finished fourth back in 2012. It is a circuit everyone knows well, so as a team we go to Barcelona intent on getting much more performance from the car. We are concentrating on this goal. We just have to push as hard as we can and stay as positive as possible even when the going gets tough. As a team we have to stay united, it will make us stronger as a unit.”

Pastor Maldonado

2013 Qualifying - 18th, 2013 Race - 14th

“The circuit has certainly been very good for me in the past, with the win in 2012 being the highlight. A top ten in qualifying will be our first focus and then it’ll be a very tough race in terms of tyre management, with a lot of pit stops and strategy. Last year most did four stops but Lotus F1 Team were able to make three stops to finish second. Overall Catalunya is tough for the cars, drivers and teams because everyone knows the track so well and you have to fight for every thousandth of a second. There are obviously races that are much closer to Venezuela in a geographic sense, but Barcelona is special for me because there is a huge community of Venezuelans close by and of course my mother tongue is Spanish. So I hope to see a lot of flags around the track and some great support as usual. It’s always good to race in front of your fans and I am determined to continue my good record there.

“I’m expecting to be more competitive. It will be very important to start scoring some points, but if everything goes well and we get some luck too then a top five is possible. It is going to be difficult - there are the two Mercedes and two Red Bulls and then others who have shown good pace in recent races like Force India - but if we get 100 percent from the car we can fight all of the other teams and come away with something good to build on. Clearly we expect the updates to be positive, but it’s difficult to say how big the relative improvement will be because everybody will bring updates and nothing stands still in Formula One. The bottom line is that we must keep improving and pushing.”

Nick Chester, Lotus technical director

“We’ve got further improvements on engine mapping, which should give us another step forward. We’ve got a new cooling and bodywork package coming - quite a big upgrade - plus some updates to the rear wing and various other bodywork parts. All of the developments that we’ve brought for the car so far have been an improvement, which is highly satisfying and validates the hard work being done back at the factory. We also received more horsepower from Renault Sport F1 in China and I hope we’ll get a further step-up in Barcelona, which will make a massive difference.”


Jenson Button

2013 Qualifying - 14th, 2013 Race - 8th

"Formula One's springtime return to Europe is always one of my favourite times of the year. The paddock is filled with familiar faces, the travel shortens, and the team motorhomes - where we'll live and work for much of the next five months - return to the scene. It always signals a bit of a fresh start to the season, and it'll be an important one for us.

"The Circuit de Catalunya is a demanding racetrack for any car - its combination of long, sweeping corners places the emphasis on aerodynamic performance, which is an area where we're lacking at the moment. It's always been a place where a competitive car will shine and a less-competitive one will struggle.

"For us, it's not simply about bringing new parts to the circuit: it's about understanding and unlocking the car's secrets, and using that understanding to take bigger steps with performance. We're still at the early stages with our car, and, for us, it's less about the components that we fit to it, and more about the bigger picture - finding a useful direction, gaining trust in our measurements and pushing ahead. We all know that this team has the capacity to develop a car through a season, so I hope and trust that we'll start to push forwards again soon."

Kevin Magnussen

2013 Qualifying - n/a, 2013 Race - n/a

"As a team, we've had a difficult couple of races, so I think we all head to Spain hopeful of better fortunes. I think the problems we encountered in China have definitely given us the data and the impetus we need to make some changes, so I'm keen to get back in the car on Friday and see if we've made a step forward. The Circuit de Catalunya is a great track, and a place I really enjoy - I won both races in the World Series there last October - and I'm looking forward to driving a Formula One car for the first time.

"I also think the post-race test will be useful - Barcelona is one of the most critical circuits on the calendar for aerodynamics, so we couldn't ask for a better venue at which to evaluate and refine our car."

Eric Boullier, McLaren racing director

"For us, the weekend will be about learning, and hopefully moving on from our disappointing performance in China last month. The root of our under-performance has been comprehensively analysed; we know the areas where our package falls short, and we've taken steps - both short- and long-term - to address those. While not all of those will be in evidence in Barcelona this weekend, they mark the start of a fresh push and spirit within the whole organisation.

"One thing we can be sure of is that Jenson and Kevin will both be pushing to the limit. In China, it was difficult to watch two hard-pressing drives go unrewarded, but both drivers performed fantastically in Shanghai, and only lost out on points due to the inefficiency of our car.

"The McLaren Technology Centre has been bustling with intense focus and activity since our return from China, and I'm hopeful that we are on the right track to steadily start pushing ourselves back towards the front."


Felipe Massa

2013 Qualifying - 6th, 2013 Race - 3rd

"I have won in Barcelona before which is important as it means I can enjoy the race a little more. I know what it takes to win at the circuit so I can have a little confidence when driving there. Downforce is really important in Spain so we have to make sure the aerodynamic set-up is correct. We have been working on developing the car in this area. Barcelona is historically a place where teams bring upgrades, but as every team does this it's a case of whose upgrades make the most difference. I am really looking forward to racing again in Europe."

Valtteri Bottas

2013 Qualifying - 17th, 2013 Race - 16th

"As a team we are looking forward to Spain, once we are in Europe it's easier to bring upgrades out over a race weekend. The time gap between China and Spain has been really important as we have had time to improve the car, although how much we have moved forward is hard to say until we drive it. We haven't driven in Spain with the current car, which is unusual as in previous years we completed a lot of laps in testing, so we all know the layout well, but will need to work on the set-up."

Rob Smedley, Williams head of vehicle performance

"Spain is a good leveller. Getting back to Europe gives teams the opportunity to bring further upgrades, which we will also be doing. Barcelona and the following two or three races gives everyone a good indication of how the rest of the season will play out and who has made the most progress since the start of the season. The teams and drivers know the track well, meaning we can gain a lot of accurate data on how the upgrades are working. This knowledge is also very useful when back in factory; it means we can replicate the track and conditions very closely. The track itself has a very good mix of long straights, some high speed corners like Turn 3 and some more technical and slower sections. Turn 3 is important for managing tyre wear so it's something engineers and drivers have to monitor throughout the weekend. We feel prepared going in to the weekend and are now interested to see where we are in comparison to our competitors."


Jules Bianchi

2013 Qualifying - 20th, 2013 Race - 18th

"The first four circuits we have visited have all been quite different, and not so typical of the more traditional circuits we find on the European calendar, so it is always nice to get back to venues like Barcelona which we are a little more familiar with. This helps in terms of understanding the car a bit more. Having said that, this is not such a straightforward circuit; it's quite bumpy and quite challenging to find a good set-up. Generally though, if we can get the car working well here, it is a good sign, especially with our new developments. It has been nice to have a break and take some time to consider the opening races, but now I am excited to get my teeth into the next phase of the season."

Max Chilton

2013 Qualifying - 21st, 2013 Race - 19th

"After what will have been almost three weeks away from the car, I'm really looking forward to the Spanish Grand Prix this weekend. We have some interesting new developments and I can't wait to see what these will bring. I'm sure Friday will be a very busy day of evaluation during the two free practice sessions, and of course there will be the chance to look at things a bit more closely after the race during the two-day test, so all in all we should leave Spain next week with a very good understanding of where we are."

John Booth, Marussia team principal

"The three-week break since China has been extremely beneficial for the Team, providing some respite after the first four long-haul races and the opportunity to regroup technically to ensure that we are in the best possible shape for the start of the European season. Spain is a key race, not least because it provides a very good barometer of car performance up and down the field. The weekend, coupled with next week's two-day test, will also ensure everyone gets a good run at the implementation and evaluation of the new developments being introduced at this stage of the season. We will be bringing upgrades which can be considered a reasonable collective step. These are primarily aerodynamic, some of which are visible around the nose area and some perhaps a little more subtle. To complement the aero upgrades, we also have some mechanical changes which will allow us to better exploit the aero performance of the car. Naturally we hope to see confirmation of a positive development direction this weekend."


Kamui Kobayashi

2013 Qualifying - n/a, 2013 Race - n/a

"After a couple of weeks to recharge we're back to work in Barcelona at a track everyone knows extremely well, but, unusually for us in the recent F1 era, this will be our first visit there this year as we didn't test there in pre-season. It's a track I've always gone pretty well at, especially in 2012 when I finished fifth after really good fights with Button and Rosberg in the race. While I'd like to be racing both of them again this year we're realistic enough to know that's very unlikely, but we are still aiming to be able to fight at least two of the teams ahead, and new parts should help that.

"We're bringing updates to the front and rear wings and the floor and the key to optimising the performance gains from them is obviously maximum time on track, so strong reliability will again be crucial. It was good to see how much progress we and Renault made on that over the first four races and we'll obviously aim to carry that over to Barcelona and throughout the season as it is especially important in helping perfect set-ups over the weekend."

Marcus Ericsson

2013 Qualifying - n/a, 2013 Race - n/a

"I've had a very good two week break back at home in Sweden but now I want to get back on track and Spain's the perfect place to do so! This will be the first race of the year at a track I know well and, while it's only a small advantage, it's obviously good to have that knowledge as it makes the initial runs on Friday more useful, and it means I can attack a lap more efficiently right from the start of FP1.

"That's important at any race, but especially this weekend as we have some new parts coming and it will be critical to complete the run plans we have for those on Friday so we can really see where we can find maximum lap time. As we have had at all the races this year, in addition to the work on track we'll also have the simulator operational back at Leafield, and all the simulation software we have at our disposal to help generate even more data, so while the focus will be on Spain there will also be a lot of work going on back at the factory to help us even more. Obviously that's a big step up in terms of support from the last time I raced GP2 in Barcelona, but for me it's all part of my progression and I can't wait to start work again!"

More to follow.