Spanish GP Preview – Wolff: ‘The heat will make it more challenging’

© LAT Images for Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd

Mercedes released the Spanish Grand Prix preview featuring comments from team boss Toto Wolff. You can read Wolff’s comments below!

“The 70th Anniversary Grand Prix was a good reminder how unpredictable and challenging our sport is and how difficult it is to win a race. You need to get absolutely everything right to beat your opponents – and we didn’t do that last weekend. We were quick in Qualifying, but the points are given out on Sunday and that’s when we struggled. We got beaten fair and square by Red Bull, and hats off to them again for the job they did,” said Wolff.

“Our team has always shown its greatest strengths when it was faced with tough and unexpected challenges – this week was no exception. We were clearly the outliers with regards to our tyre blistering and it was important to find out what exactly caused it and what we can do to mitigate it in the future. We used the last few days to build a better understanding of the problem and translate that into ways to address it in the future.

“Our next stop takes us to Barcelona, a track that we know better than any other circuit on the calendar. However, we usually go to Spain for winter testing and in spring weather for the first race of the European season. This year, we’re facing the heat of August with air temperatures of 30 degrees and more, in clear sunny skies. Our relative performance seems stronger in slightly cooler conditions, so the heat will definitely make it more challenging, but we’re excited to get back on track and find out if we’ve made a step in the right direction.”

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Fact File: Spanish Grand Prix

  • The Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya covers a wide range of car speeds and corner types. The car is put through its paces in the slow corners at Turn 10, Turn 14 and Turn 15 (testing its mechanical grip), while also having to tackle the high-speed Turn 3 and Turn 9 (where the car’s aerodynamic grip is put to the test). It’s this variety that makes the track ideal for testing an F1 car.
  • The high-speed corners at the Spanish GP venue are right-handers while the low-speed corners are left-handers. That impacts the car set-up, with different set-ups being used on the left and right-hand sides of the car to accommodate for this.
  • The directions of the high and low-speed corners mean that the left tyres wear out quicker while the right tyres typically experience lower temperatures.
  • Overtaking is particularly tricky in Spain. Drivers enter the track’s only long straight via a high-speed corner (Turn 16). That makes it difficult to follow the car in front closely as the second car loses aerodynamic grip in the “dirty air” from the car in front. The end of the straight is also tricky for overtaking, as Turn 1 is a medium-speed corner that doesn’t require much braking energy.
  • 21 of the 29 races that have taken place at the Barcelona track have been won from pole position – emphasising just how important Qualifying is at the Spanish GP.
  • Turn 5 is a unique challenge for drivers as they tend to tackle the corner differently between Qualifying and the race. The camber of the road drops away at the apex of that corner, which unloads the inside-front tyre and increases the risk of locking up. Drivers take this risk in Qualifying and use a tighter line, closer to the apex, as it’s a shorter distance. However, on a longer race stint, locking up can cause vibrations and risk additional pit stops. So, drivers typically take a wider line to keep the load on the inside-front and reduce the chance of locking up.
  • The wind often changes direction during the course of the day in Spain, which impacts car balance. There is typically a tailwind on the main straight in the mornings, which produces a headwind into the high-speed corners and provides good car stability. It tends to rotate in the other direction in the afternoon or evening, which produces a tailwind into the high-speed corners and makes the balance very tricky.
  • Sector three is the most important sector when it comes to lap time, because the drivers can find the most time in the low-speed corners. This makes it rare to see the same driver set three purple sectors in Barcelona, because maximising the grip to be quick in sector one will lead to the tyres being too hot by the time the driver reaches sector three.
  • The distance between pole position and the first braking zone (Turn 1) at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya is the fourth longest in F1, measuring 612.5 metres – only Russia, Mexico and Silverstone are longer.
  • Barcelona has one of the lowest maximum speeds in F1, with cars reaching 320 km/h on the main straight due to its high-downforce nature. Only Hungary and Monaco register lower maximum speeds.
  • The Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya has the fourth-highest average track temperature in F1 at 41°C (calculated by a five-year mean). There’s two main factors for this: The track surface in Barcelona is very absorbent to heat, but the solar radiation (electromagnetic radiation emitted by the sun) is also particularly high in Barcelona, so the track temperature increases quickly when there is no cloud cover.
  • This year marks the 50th running of the Spanish Grand Prix as part of the Formula One World Championship. It’s also the 30th Spanish GP to be held at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.

Source: Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team

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