Barcelonas Circuit de Catalunya, venue for next weekends Formula 1 Gran Premio de España Santander 2012, is one of the most complete tests of a Formula One car and driver. But after their three-day, in-season test at Mugello, do the teams and drivers feel ready for the challenge?
Kamui Kobayashi, Sauber
2011 Qualifying - 14th, 2011 Race - 10th
At the Mugello test I definitely had the feeling our new update to the car is a step forward for us. This is good, of course, but only at the Barcelona circuit will we be able to tell how much of an improvement it really is. Not only because testing never allows for proper comparisons to the competition, but also because the Circuit de Catalunya is special. It has everything fast corners, medium speed corners and slow corners. Although everybody knows that track so well, it is very difficult to get the set up right there. But, in turn, if you really manage to get it right there this normally means the car can be fast on other circuits as well. It will be a challenging weekend for us drivers as well as for the car and the engineers, and I am very much looking forward to going racing again.
Sergio Perez, Sauber
2011 Qualifying - 12th, 2011 Race - 9th
I am looking forward to the Spanish Grand Prix very much and also to the other forthcoming races in Europe. To me the race at the Circuit de Catalunya is one of the most special ones on the calendar. I obviously know the circuit very well from GP2, from last years Formula One race and, of course, from testing. It was there where I scored my first ever F1 points last year when I finished ninth. I hope to get some points again this year. Our recent race in Bahrain was very disappointing, so I really hope our new aero package will work well in Barcelona.
Giampaolo DallAra, Sauber head of track engineering
The Barcelona track is very complete. It has all kinds of features - low speed, medium speed and high speed corners as well as changes of direction. In some places the circuit is quite bumpy, and the tarmac is abrasive. Although we know this track well from testing it's always a challenging one. Pirelli will provide us with the soft and the hard tyre. It's the first time this year that there are two steps between the tyre compounds, which makes it interesting. We expect the soft one to be good in qualifying, while the hard compound should be strong in the race. The limiting factor is the wear on the front axle. However, at the same time the track characteristics stress the rear tyres, therefore the challenge will be to find the best compromise for the set-up of the car. We tested a major upgrade to the car in Mugello, consisting of a new front wing and new bodywork, including a different exhaust exit and a new diffuser. The results of the test were encouraging. However, all the teams had some upgrades, and only the next race weekend will give us confirmation whether we are able to strengthen our position compared to our competitors. Nevertheless I'm confident that we can have a strong performance in Barcelona.
Michael Schumacher, Mercedes
2011 Qualifying - 10th, 2011 Race - 6th
"After completing our testing programme in Mugello, we are now heading to the start of the European season in Barcelona next week. The positive thing about the test was that we could really concentrate on the developments we were aiming to work on. This should give us a good basis for further developments, even if maybe not for the next race to come. Barcelona is a track we have driven extensively on, and this is why we know that its characteristics do not exactly play fully into our hands. But then, we will definitely go there and try our best and at the same time keep on working for the things to come."
Nico Rosberg, Mercedes
2011 Qualifying - 7th, 2011 Race - 7th
"I am really looking forward to next weekend and racing in Europe again. It's quite unique to come to a track where we have done so many laps in winter testing, however the race weekend will be a completely different challenge. The test in Mugello this week was very positive for us, and I believe we will arrive in Barcelona with a much better understanding of the tyres and how we need to set our car up. Despite the familiarity of the track, there will still be a lot of work for us to do, and it should be a good challenge."
Ross Brawn, Mercedes team principal
"After a hectic start to the season with four races and the test in Mugello, we are all looking forward to the European season getting underway and the familiarity that brings. The team had a good week in Italy for the test this week where we were able to work both on challenges that affected us during the initial races of the season, and evaluate a number of new developments planned for the forthcoming races. Spain plays host to the first European race, and although the Circuit de Catalunya is a very familiar venue for the team and our drivers, the weekend will bring its own challenges. I feel confident that we are continuing to make progress, and we will of course be working hard to continue that trend."
Norbert Haug, Vice-President, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport
"The first four races of the 2012 season have offered great, thrilling sport for all fans of Formula One. Eight drivers from six teams on the podium in four races - one more driver than in the entire 2011 season - and four winners from four races for the first time in nearly 30 years; you couldn't ask for more in terms of on-track excitement and unpredictability. No team has yet produced winning form at more than one event and achieving this consistency will be key. Our Mercedes AMG Petronas team has registered a positive trend: after two difficult races at the start of the season, we were competitive and won in China then, in Bahrain, we were the third-fastest team on race day. We have been hard at work since then to further improve the competitiveness, consistency and reliability of our car. The Circuit de Catalunya will present a very different challenge next weekend to the ones in the first four races with track temperatures likely to be very different and with new developments on the cars. We will approach the race weekend in a focused manner in order to maximise our team performance with both drivers."
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