Spanish GP Preview – Wolff: “We’re hopeful that we’ll make another step forward”

© Sebastian Kawka for Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix ltd.

Mercedes released the 2022 Spanish Grand Prix preview featuring comments from team boss Toto Wolff. You can read the full preview below!

“With the third quickest car underneath us, we extracted the maximum points possible in Miami,” Wolff said.

“Considering George’s start position, it was a great recovery drive, helped by when the Safety Car was deployed. But the timing was unfortunate for Lewis who was strong all weekend and on course to score P5 without the neutralisation of the race. I’ve no doubt that over the course of the season, a little luck will eventually go his way.

“During Friday practice, the car showed flashes of its true potential. We continued experimenting with set-up, fitted some new components and that’s provided us answers and indications of which direction to go in.

“A huge amount of hard work has been going on in the factories to unpick the data from Miami and turn it into improvements for Barcelona. Having run there in winter testing, albeit with a car that has evolved a lot since then, it will be a good place to correlate the information we have on the current car and we’re hopeful that we’ll make another step forward.

“The track itself is a good all-rounder, so it really puts every aspect of the car to the test. It’s never been a great track for overtaking so it’ll be interesting to see how these new-shape 2022 F1 cars impact the on-track spectacle in Spain.

“In basketball terms, we head to Barcelona at the end of the first quarter of the game. We know that once we translate the learnings we’ve made into track performance, there’s still a lot of the game left to play,” the Austrian concluded.


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Fact File: Spanish Grand Prix

  • Overtaking is a challenge in Spain. The pit straight is the only long one and is entered via a high-speed corner, where it is tough for cars to follow due to the dirty air, while the end of the straight isn’t a particularly heavy braking zone either. The modifications to Turn 10 that debuted last year also haven’t helped, as the corner is now taken at a faster speed and requires less braking.
  • However, the Spanish GP venue will be a good test of whether these new 2022 technical regulations have made the cars easier to follow each other and better for overtaking. We’ve seen promising signs so far, which may well help drivers to make moves.
  • The Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya is an ideal track for testing an F1 car, as it has a wide range of corner types and speeds, plus some long straights. Slow-speed corners like Turns 14 and 15 focus on mechanical grip, but high-speed sections such as Turns 3 and 9 test a car’s aerodynamic grip.
  • Sector three is incredibly important and drivers can find a lot of lap time here in the slow corners. It can be rare for a driver to set three purple sectors at the circuit, because maximising grip and being faster in sector one will overheat the tyres for the crucial third sector.
  • Most of the track’s low-speed turns are left-handers and most of the right-handers are taken at high speeds. So slightly different car set-ups can be used on the left and right-hand sides, and that track characteristic also means the left tyres wear out quicker, while the right tyres experience lower temperatures.
  • Turn 5 is one of the track’s more unique corners, because drivers approach the corner differently depending on the session. The camber of the road drops at the apex, which unloads the inside-front tyre and increases the risk of lockups. Drivers will take a riskier, tighter line in Qualifying as it shortens the distance, but on a race stint, lockups can cause vibrations and damage the tyre, which could prompt an additional pit stop. So, they take a wider line to keep the load off the inside-front and reduce the potential of a lockup.
  • The wind at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya often changes direction during the day. Usually, we find there is a tailwind on the main straight in the morning, which produces a headwind into the high-speed turns. This helps provide better car stability. But then it tends to rotate in the opposite direction in the afternoon, giving drivers a tailwind into the fast corners and making the balance trickier.
  • 23 of the 31 races that have taken place at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya have been won from pole, proving just how crucial Qualifying is.
  • Barcelona tends to be a higher-downforce track in terms of car set-up and wing level, so maximum speeds are towards the lower end of the list.
  • It has one of the longest runs from pole to the first braking zone of the season, with 579 metres before drivers hit the brakes for the opening sequence of corners.
  • Since we last raced in Barcelona in May 2021, the cars have changed drastically. This means the drivers are tackling corners at different speeds. For example, the long Turn 3 is now taken at 225 km/h, compared to 240 km/h in 2021. The fast Turn 9 is now a 250 km/h right-hander, whereas last year it was taken at around 265 km/h.
  • Barcelona was the scene of the first winter test of 2022. The cars have evolved significantly since then, so a lot of our learning and information from that opening test of the season needs to be reinterpreted, to see how it applies to the car we’ll have there this weekend.

Source: Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team

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