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Spain preview quotes - Manor, Toro Rosso, Sauber, Red Bull, Williams & more

12 May 2016

The F1 paddock heads to Europe this weekend and the Formula 1 Gran Premio de Espana Pirelli 2016 at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, which will also host a two-day test on the Tuesday and Wednesday following the race. Those involved look ahead to round five of the season...

Pascal Wehrlein

“It will be nice to get straight into the programme here without having to think about acclimatisation. Although I didn’t race here in my early single-seater career, it’s a track we know well from testing and its characteristics are very familiar to us, so it will be relatively easy to see how our new developments are working.

“It has a bit of everything for a driver, which I like. There’s a good mix of fast, medium and slow speed corners, frequent changes in direction and a nice long start-finish straight, all of which make it really interesting to drive. The track is quite abrasive so with the tyre allocation here we’ll need to focus on managing degradation. I hope we will see some good progress here this weekend.”

Rio Haryanto

“Indonesia is my real home of course and I try to go back there at every opportunity, but the reality is that it’s a long way when we’re racing in Europe, so I have a base here in Barcelona for the next few months. I really like it here; the weather is good and it’s a really cool city with plenty of interesting places for me to train. My trainer is Spanish so he knows all the best places and I know the area like the back of my hand now.

“I feel good about the season so far. I’ve had a bit of bad luck but generally the first few races have been positive for me. I feel quite happy with the way I’m learning and developing with each new race, particularly in terms of my pace. You learn to put the disappointments to one side and use it as extra determination for the next event. So I’m ready to get stuck into the weekend here. It’s a track I know really well so we should be up to speed quite quickly and able to get a good impression of how our package works here.”

Dave Ryan, racing director

“As is the case up and down the pit lane, we have some new developments that we’ll start to introduce here this weekend - a new bodywork package, floor, new front and rear wings, together with some other less visible items.

“We hope the developments will enable us to start optimising the car in a few areas and that they will contribute to a more efficient package. We’ll begin the process of evaluation this weekend before making any hard and fast predictions but we’re optimistic that we will see the first signs of progress after a lot of hard work by the team over the course of the first few races.”

Toro Rosso

Daniil Kvyat

“The Barcelona track is one I know well as I've tested there many times since I was a kid. Turn 1 is a good spot for overtakes, while Turn 3 is a long, endless corner. I like Turn 9 as it's the fastest corner here, I'd say it's my favourite of this track. The last sector is quite twisty, slow and requires a lot of technique.

“I have to say that, even though we know this circuit inside out, it's not an easy one as its very set-up dependent. You need to really be able to set-up your car in a nice way and get a good compromise between high and low speed, slow and fast sections as well as deciding how you want your car to be behaving regarding oversteer and understeer… So whoever manages to do this the best will have a good race, but it's always a challenge.

“As a city, I really like Barcelona. I lived nearby for half a year and I really like this part of the world and Spain in general. I also think that because I speak Spanish it helps and it means people can support and talk to me, which is always nice.”

Carlos Sainz

“What stands out for me the most during the whole weekend in Spain is the amazing crowd that we have there, as they never stop cheering for the Spanish drivers, it's an incredible feeling.

“My favourite memory from last year is driving down the main straight after my quali lap and seeing so many happy people celebrating my P5 with me. I have to say that I was smiling during the whole of that in-lap and it's a moment I will never forget!

“We know the circuit's layout very well, as we've spent many test days there. Turn 1 reminds me of my battle with Kvyat last year for P9 and finally getting past him at that point of the track. I'd say Turn 3 is quite a challenge as it's close to flat and you also have to take the wind direction into consideration a bit. I recall overtaking Hulkenberg, Raikkonen and Massa around the outside there - it's incredible to be side by side at around 260km/h, knowing that if you touch, your race ends there!

“Turns 4 and 5 are corners where it's easy to front-lock. I enjoy Turn 9 as it's the fastest corner of the track and going through here during qualifying last year felt amazing! During the last sector it's important to keep the tyres alive - especially the rears - and as you approach the straight and you get to Turn 16 you always experience massive oversteer as it's close to flat.

“I can't wait for my home Grand Prix to get started!”


Marcus Ericsson

“The Spanish Grand Prix always kicks off Formula One’s European season. We all know the track very well from winter testing. It will be interesting to see how the C35 behaves in warmer conditions compared to the colder ones during testing in February. I am looking forward to racing there and hope we can make another step in the right direction.” 

Felipe Nasr

“The Spanish Grand Prix is one milestone in the Formula One calendar. In general we and the other teams have a lot of data from the track in Barcelona, as we ran most of our test kilometres there. For the race weekend it will be important to achieve a satisfying qualifying position, because overtaking is, in general, difficult on this circuit.”

Red Bull

Daniel Ricciardo

“Barcelona marks the start of the summer, the weather is starting to get better and we usually go pretty well at the Circuit de Catalunya so I’m looking forward to it. I know the track well as we spend quite a lot of time there but there’s always things to learn from the track though so I don’t want to say I know it all, but having had a few races in the car it’s about putting it all together and having a strong weekend.

“It’s a relatively high down force circuit so we can strap most of the things on the car that make it go faster. It’s quite hard on tyres so we are normally a bit stronger than some other teams in that area. It could provide a good opportunity for us to get close to the podium.

“I stay in a motorhome for the whole race week as it’s just a lot more convenient, but I would love to spend some more time in the city to be honest. I really like Barcelona. It has a really cool culture and some awesome Tapas places.”

Max Verstappen

“I’m very excited for the opportunity to drive for Red Bull Racing and I can’t wait to jump in the car in Barcelona. I have a lot of work to do ahead of the race, lots of data to study but luckily it’s a track I know well because we have driven there so much.

“The main straight is quite a long one, so you need a good top speed. For me the best parts of the track are Turn 3 and Turn 9, as they are both high-speed ones. The last sector is also interesting, as it’s very technical and hard on tyres.

“The crowd is also one you always notice, with many Spanish fans showing their support and enjoying the racing!”


Valtteri Bottas

“Barcelona is probably the track I’ve driven the most in my life because all of the pre-season testing normally takes place there. I like the track and I like Barcelona as city as well, it is a nice place to stay. The weather is always good around this time of the year. It is a nice event, overall, and there are plenty of fans, so it would be nice to have a good result there, especially because testing looked good for us there.”

Felipe Massa

“Spain is always a track that most of the drivers know 100 percent because we are always testing there in the winter. So I’d say that everyone pretty much knows the track. It is a circuit that a good car overall normally goes well because you have a little bit of everything; high-speed corners and low-speed corners. If the car works well here, it will work well on most of the tracks. I’m looking forward to having a good race there and hope that we can keep improving race by race, and keep scoring points. To be able to fight for a podium would be great. We know it won’t be easy but we will try everything we can.”

Pat Symonds, chief technical officer

“The Circuit de Barcelona is a track we know well having completed eight days of pre-season testing at the venue. It is, however, a circuit that is very reactive to climatic conditions, even over the course of a day, therefore the car characteristics we saw in the temperatures of February and March, may not necessarily be indicative of what we will see in May. It is also the first appearance of the Pirelli hard compound tyres, which bares testament to the severity of the circuit. In general, we were happy with the car performance during testing, and hope we can repeat that level of competitiveness, or better, when it matters during the race weekend.”


Paul Hembery, motorsport director

“Spain always provides a very big test for the tyres due to the high energy loads that the circuit generates, and this year that will especially be the case with most teams having favoured the softer compounds in their selections. Of course they will be able to rely on the data accumulated during pre-season testing, but at this time of year we expect conditions to be much warmer. As a result we should see high wear and degradation leading to several pit stops, which of course opens up a very large number of strategic variables for the Grand Prix.”


Lewis Hamilton

"It's been good to have a break after Russia. Over time you reflect on each race weekend and what you might have done differently, so you can learn from each experience and move on. I'm really proud of the guys in the garage: we've had a hard time but they're doing a fantastic job and I'm really happy with how we've been working together. Every weekend, we've got the car into a great place setup-wise – I just haven't been fully able to exploit it. So the glass is half full for me. It will be a big challenge but there's a long way to go with 17 races left and, if the last four are anything to go by, there's a lot more still to come from us. The team has been on it 24/7 since returning from Russia so I'm confident they'll get to the bottom of the problems we've been having. I know I'm still quick. I've known that since day one in testing and, when I've had clean air and a damage-free car this season, I've shown it on track. I head to Spain confident of a good weekend."

Nico Rosberg

"It's not something I could have expected – winning the first four races of the year. It's been a great start but I'm just enjoying the moment and the form I'm in, doing my best to keep it going and hoping I can carry it through to the end of the season. Sport is all about ups and downs and being mentally prepared to bounce back stronger when they come. With a season this long you have to just take things race by race. There are 425 points still up for grabs – and anything can happen yet. Next up, it's Barcelona. I got my first pole and win at this circuit last year and I'm connecting really well with the car at the moment, which is great as it gives you this awesome confidence to push the limits. So, I'm excited for the weekend and no doubt a big battle ahead."

Toto Wolff, Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport

"Assessing our season so far is an interesting task. On the one side, we are leading the Constructors' Championships by a good margin and our drivers hold the top two positions in the Drivers' standings. So, realistically speaking, it's tough to ask for more. However, it has not been plain sailing and we have had problems that we are working hard to solve. We have rivals breathing down our necks who are relentless in their chase. The longer regulations remain stable, the harder it is to find extra performance. We are pushing the limits to ensure we remain competitive – but if you push the limits then at a certain stage you risk stepping over them. The whole team, on both the chassis and Power Unit side, is working flat out to extract every millisecond from our package without compromising reliability. This is a group of great engineers and I have no doubt that they are going to achieve that. We are always learning as a team. In Hungary and Singapore last year, we took a couple of big hits. But we came out of those races stronger and we continue to learn from our struggles. We're going to see some big upgrades from the different teams and Power Unit suppliers over the next few races, so now is the time we can truly assess the pecking order. Barcelona will be an interesting weekend from that perspective, so we must be prepared."

Paddy Lowe, Executive Director (Technical)

"The first European race on the calendar traditionally marks the beginning of a new phase of the season. Most of our race freight has been away since early March, so it gives us a chance to refresh the parts and equipment as we transfer everything out of the air freight and over to the race trucks – a busy time for the race team! Barcelona itself is a circuit which is very demanding of all aspects of car performance. There's a common saying in Formula One that if you're quick around Barcelona, you'll be quick everywhere. This makes it an important landmark in the season to see where you stand in performance terms, as most teams will be bringing a range of upgrades. Of course, we've all been to this circuit already in 2016 during winter testing – but it's a very different track in May compared to how it was back in March. It will be much warmer and the tyres will behave differently. We have the Hard, Medium and Soft compounds to choose from, which presents some challenges. The Soft will be essential for qualifying but not be a great race tyre, so determining the optimum strategy will be a focal point. Qualifying and race starts will also be important, as it is notoriously difficult to overtake at this circuit. But the highest priority is to come back with our MGU-H problem solved, having had a repeat fault over the past two race weekends. The team has been working day and night to understand it and we're targeting a clean weekend all round."


Fernando Alonso

"After an eventful few races, and after a good result for us in Russia, I'm looking forward to going 'home' to Barcelona and race in my country in front of my home fans. The atmosphere there is always incredible for any Spanish driver, and I have some very special memories from my wins there in 2006 and 2013. 

"We're still learning a lot about our package as we visit each track, so it's useful that we already have a lot of data from testing there that we can use to understand its characteristics and how our car will react to them. Our performance in qualifying is something we're working on all the time, to give us the best chance in the race. Getting into Q3 will certainly be difficult at this track, but, with the Spanish fans behind me, that's got to be our aim." 

"It's a fast circuit, so it's certainly demanding for both the car and driver. The power unit, too, has to work very hard with such high average speeds. As always, reliability is a priority first and foremost, but I hope that the upgrades we'll test on Friday will see us continue to push race by race, and allow us to keep fighting towards the front alongside our rivals in the midfield." 

Jenson Button

"It's exciting to start the European season off the back of a positive race for the whole team in Sochi. There's definitely a feeling in the camp that we're making progress, so I'm hopeful that we can continue this momentum in Barcelona. 

"The Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya is not a circuit that would traditionally suit us, since it's fairly hard on both the chassis and the power units, but I feel I have a solid car underneath me, and we're putting in pretty consistent performances on a variety of circuits, even if our results don't necessarily reflect all the work that's going on back at base. We have some more new parts to test on the car again for this race, so I hope we can see another positive step in our performance over the weekend." 

Eric Boullier, McLaren-Honda Racing Director 

"Our double points finish in Sochi was certainly a motivating factor for the whole team back in Woking, Sakura and Milton Keynes, but it's only just the start of an upward curve that we hope to continue riding for the rest of the season. 

"In Russia, there's no doubt we gained from others' misfortune in some ways, but both our drivers report positively about the balance of the car, which reassures us that we've created a solid foundation, and that we can have faith in the direction in which we're going.

"We're always impatient for more, but I'm pleased that the hard work consistently being undertaken behind the scenes was finally rewarded with some valuable points, and we head into the European season hopeful of scoring some more positive results at circuits on which our car should theoretically be slightly stronger. That, coupled with an unrelenting development programme, is exciting and gives us optimism for the next few races ahead. 

"It certainly won't be easy - while we'll be evaluating upgrades to the car in Barcelona, so will many other teams - but the loyal Spanish fans will be behind Fernando and the team, and we hope to put on a good show for them and carry some positive momentum into the European season."

Yusuke Hasegawa, Honda R&D Co Ltd Head of F1 Project & Executive Chief Engineer

"The Spanish Grand Prix marks the beginning of a busy European summer season for Formula 1, and after the eventful first four flyaway races and a double points finish in Russia, it's good to see everyone in such high spirits and enjoying the camaraderie within the team. 

"The Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya is a technical circuit that is less strenuous on the power unit compared to the first four races, but much more stressful on the balance of the car. From a power unit perspective, it is important to have the correct amount of deployment, harvesting and throttle response, so our focus will be to deliver the best balance to suit the needs of our drivers. 

"Our power unit development is ongoing and we have not yet confirmed to which races we will bring token updates, but hopefully we can fight for more points during Sunday's race."

Force India

Nico Hulkenberg

“When you get to Barcelona to start the European season, you start to realise just how quickly the year is passing. It’s a chance to get back into a normal routine because you don’t have so many long flights or time zone changes, so it’s a bit easier from that regard.

“I love the city of Barcelona and the Spanish lifestyle in the sunshine. We’ve already spent a couple of weeks there for winter testing, but when you come back for the race everything is different: the cars have evolved, the temperatures are warmer, and you have to work hard to find the right set-up. That’s why it’s a tricky circuit because confidence counts for a lot and, if you’re not totally comfortable, your lap times really suffer.

“I felt pretty disappointed about what happened in Sochi. In fact, things have gone against us for the last few races. We know we should have scored more points, but it’s impossible to plan for the bad luck we’ve experienced. I’m looking forward to a weekend where everything goes to plan so that we can show our true potential.”

Sergio Perez

“The atmosphere in Barcelona is always special and for me it’s one of the best tracks of the year. I enjoy the layout because it’s a true test of your car with a bit of everything, especially long, quick corners, which all the drivers enjoy. It’s a track where you feel the physical demands, especially on your neck, but overall it’s just a great place to experience a Formula One car. The only downside is that it’s difficult to overtake, but it’s still possible with DRS on the approach to turn one, especially if the car ahead is suffering with high tyre degradation.

“It was important to get back into the points in Russia. The car performed very well all weekend and I can feel the progress we’ve made since the start of the year. It was not a smooth race, but we didn’t give up and scoring two points was a good recovery. It’s been a difficult start to the year, but it feels like the momentum is changing now and the performance in Sochi was a big boost for all of us.

“Barcelona will be the first chance to run our updated car. It’s going to be a huge task to understand everything on Friday, but it’s always exciting to try new parts on the car.”

Vijay Mallya, team principal

“[The Barcelona update package is] on schedule to be fitted to both cars ahead of Friday practice. It’s pretty comprehensive and the car will look quite different.”


Romain Grosjean

“It’s certainly going to be useful to have data from the winter testing, even though the conditions, the temperature and everything are going to be very different. The tyres are different as well – we don’t have the supersofts we used in the winter. But I think it’s still going to be good. I’m not sure it’s going to help us to set up the car initially, but it will help us to double-check everything we have done and to see if we’ve been going in the right direction since the winter testing.

“The advantage of having data from the winter testing, and going back a few races into the season, is that you can check if you’ve been doing a good job in going in the right direction, in terms of the setup of the car and so on. I’m very much looking forward to getting back to Barcelona and trying the updates we’ve got and the setups we’ve been using. Hopefully, we’ll get more updates and then check that we’re doing the right thing with the car.

“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. It’s going to be interesting for us. We know what we could have improved during the winter testing to get faster in Barcelona. Hopefully, it’s coming for the race. It would be interesting for us to check that we’ve been doing everything right and the updates we’re bringing work as expected.”

Esteban Gutierrez

“Barcelona is a track we use a lot for testing. It’s probably the track that I have done the most laps in my career. You come into the first section into turn one, focused on the entry speed and also the line, in preparation for turn two and turn three, which is crucial in order to have a good exit out of the famous and fast turn three of Barcelona. Approaching into turn four, you have a very sharp brake to turn in very quickly, carrying the speed into the corner. The exit is very long with a lot of load on the rear tyres. You arrive into turn five, it’s a bit downhill, quite a slow corner, on braking you don’t really see the entry well and, at the same time, it is very important not to miss the apex. Turn seven is very sharp. The corner has some banking, which makes it faster than what you can see from outside approaching. Then into turn nine, it’s uphill. You turn in with very small brake, and a short lift on the throttle. The exit is a bit blind, and the car usually is moving around, trying to go on power as quickly as possible and a very, very fast corner. From turn 10 onward, you have the first sector which is usually very challenging because of the tyre temperatures. You have the tyres heated up from the previous two sectors and it makes it the most important and challenging part of the track because it’s where you can gain or lose a lot of time as it is the most technical part of the track.”

Guenther Steiner, team principal

“We’ve made a few changes to the car. We’ve got a new front wing that we tested for the first time in Russia, and we’ve got a new rear wing that we’ll race for the first time in Barcelona.

“We started to run with [the new front wing] in China, but we had some other issues to work out so we decided not to focus on the new front wing. We left the old wing on because we knew that the original wing worked. We re-tested it during FP1 in Russia and both drivers liked it. It makes the car more stable around the track in cornering, so we’ve decided to use the new wing going forward.”


Jolyon Palmer

“A strong, solid weekend would be nice. We’ve made progress with the car and I’m happy with the balance and how it drives again. Kevin scored points for the team in Russia so we know what’s possible. It’s the first race in Europe and at a track we all know really well. I’m pretty pumped-up for a strong weekend.

“I’ve been (to the the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya) many times and it’s a track that most Formula One drivers know extremely well, even just from the pre-season testing we’ve already done there this year. From a driving point of view we know exactly what to expect, however it’s traditionally the first circuit where you see a lot of updates brought so you can see some differences in relative competitiveness depending on who’s got updates, and how well those updates work.

“I had a double podium (there) in 2014 with two second places in the GP2 Series with some good overtakes in two fun races there. It’s not been a circuit that’s been especially kind to me, but it’s a good challenge and one I enjoy.

“Barcelona’s a cool city. The weather’s nice, the atmosphere’s always good and it’s just a very happening place with great culture. There’s also strong enthusiasm for Formula One.”

Kevin Magnussen

“(The Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya) can offer some really good racing, then some years you have quite a dull race. I can remember when Williams took their last win: that was a really exciting race. You can see surprises here.

“The reason Barcelona is a test track is because it has almost every type of corner. It has chicanes, it has fast corners, it has slow corners, it has big braking zones, it has corners when you prioritise speed on entry and it has corners where you focus on the exit: it has everything. It’s a perfect test track, but in anything it does have more high speed than low speed corners so you need a nicely balanced car and tyre wear can get a little bit tricky: you can’t really run the softest tyres there.

“I won my World Series by Renault Championship there, which is always a good memory.”

Nick Chester, technical director

“For Spain Jolyon will run with a new chassis – R.S.16-03 which we used at our filming day this week to shake down. For the race we have an updated rear wing as well as some updates for the front wing. For the [post-race] test we have a full raft of things to try; new suspension, further aero updates over various areas of the car, some mods to cooling as well as evaluating the B-spec power unit, so we should have a full two days.

“We fared decently in relative terms at pre-season testing there and when you look at the qualities required for a handy car around the circuit there are no initial fears from our side. That’s not to say we wouldn’t welcome some more downforce, but there’s potential as we currently stand.”

Cyril Abiteboul, Renault Sport Racing Managing Director

“Getting points in Russia was a good fillip for the team after the tough race in China. We were reliable and competitive enough to out-race our closest competition and that took a lot of hard work. That said, we acknowledge it took a cocktail of circumstances and repeating the result in Spain would be tough. However, Barcelona is the start of our development program and we will see some new developments coming through in the race, with several others scheduled for the test afterwards. We look at this race as a marker in the sand: the exit point of our recovery from the takeover and the first race as ‘our’ team. It will start small, but I’m confident we will gain momentum as we go forward.”