2018 Spanish Grand Prix Preview – Toto Wolff Talks Spain
Race Weekend: Spanish Grand Prix
Formula 1 is now heading into the European season, continuing the battle this weekend with the fifth round of the Formula 1 season in Spain for the Spanish Grand Prix at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.
Toto Talks Spain
Toto Wolff: “After an exciting start to 2018, we’re now heading into the European season with races like Spain and Monaco that present very difficult challenges than some of the previous tracks.”
“Overtaking is difficult in Barcelona and even more so in Monte-Carlo, making track position key for a good race result so we know that every team will work hard to get every last bit of performance out of the car in qualifying.”
“The European season is also the time when teams start introducing bigger upgrades to their cars. It’s the first step of the development race that looks like it could run to the very end of the season – it will be interesting to see how much performance the teams can find with their upgrades and what impact those upgrades will have on the team ranking – both at the front and in the midfield.”
“Barcelona holds mixed memories for us – a double DNF in 2016 but also a dramatic win for Lewis last year after passing Vettel on the track for the lead.”
“We’re hoping that this year’s Spanish Grand Prix will be a good race for us but we know that it will be tough. The first four races indicate very strongly that we will see the three-way battle continue and – if anything – intensify.”
Aerodynamics In Spain
What makes Barcelona an Aerodynamic reference track?
The Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya has a good mixture of different track characteristics, featuring low, mid and high-speed corners as well as two straights over 300km/h. This layout makes it a good reference as the teams learn how the car performs in many different situations, how well balanced it is and how it handles the tyres.
The long tradition of testing in Barcelona also plays a role, as the teams know the circuit well and can translate their findings in Spain for other tracks.
This year however, this turned out to be a bit of a challenge as the weather conditions at the pre-season test were unusually cold. Adding to the challenge was the fact that the track was re-surfaced over the winter and now has a much smoother asphalt, making historic comparisons even trickier.
Why Is Overtaking Difficult In Barcelona?
The main point for overtaking is the start-finish straight and Turn 1 however, the high-speed corner leading into the main straight (Turn 16) is aero-limited meaning that the car behind loses a lot of downforce which is relative to the car in front.
This makes it hard to get close to the car coming out of Turn 16 reducing overtaking possibilities.
What Effect Does The DRS Have?
The Drag Reduction System (DRS) has a huge impact on overtaking. For a track like Barcelona, the DRS is very important for overtaking as it can counterbalance some of the challenges the track layout creates for overtaking.
Thank you to the Mercedes-AMG Petronas team for the interview. Lots of features are on the way this week as we get ready for the 2018 Spanish Grand Prix!