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Posted By: James Allen  |  07 May 2013   |  8:21 am GMT  |  145 comments

The Formula 1 engineers have a love/hate relationship with Circuit de Catalunya; it is the track they know the best from the pre-season testing that has been held there for many years, but it is an enigmatic circuit, always changing with temperature and wind conditions. A car, which flies in the morning, can be uncompetitive in the afternoon, without anything being changed on the car itself.

As the first European race of the season it is also a track where teams bring their first major technical update package to the car, which will have taken 10-12 weeks of wind tunnel development. So teams always have high expectations, which do not always come to fruition and that can add another layer of frustration.

The track has a bit of everything in terms of corner types and is a very good test of a car’s aerodynamic efficiency. The most important sector of the lap is the final one, which features low speed corners. The most lap time gain and loss is here. Performance in the final sector this weekend is often taken as an indicator of how well a car will go at the next race in Monaco.

The Pirelli medium and hard tyres will be used this year – last year it was the soft and hard. This single step between compounds should make the strategies more evenly balanced, as we shall explain. Pirelli has changed the specification of the hard tyre so it is closer to the 2012 model, while the company is also supplying an extra set of these tyres to each team for use on Friday so they can gain more mileage and knowledge.


Track characteristics

Circuit de Catalunya; 4.65 kilometres. Race distance: 66 laps = 307 kilometres, 16 corners in total, considered the best test of an F1 car’s aerodynamic efficiency due to combination of medium and high speed corners.

Aerodynamic setup – High downforce. Top speed 317km/h (with Drag Reduction System active on rear wing) – 305km/h without.

Full throttle – 60% of the lap. Total fuel needed for race distance: 154kg (quite high). Fuel consumption: 2.34 kg per lap.

Time spent braking: 12% of the lap (quite low). 8 braking zones. Brake wear: Medium/low.

Total time needed for pit stop: 19.8 seconds.

Fuel effect (cost in lap time per 10kg of fuel carried): 0.40 seconds (high)


Form Guide

The Spanish Grand Prix is the fifth round of the 2013 FIA F1 World Championship.

Qualifying has historically been critical in Barcelona; the last 12 races on this track have been won from pole position. The arrival of DRS rear wings has meant a significant improvement in overtaking, which was always a problem at this circuit.

The form guide so far shows two poles and two wins for Red Bull Racing, a win and three podiums for Lotus, with two poles and two podiums for Mercedes and a win and a podium for Ferrari

Barcelona is likely to see many teams bring through some major car developments; front and rear wings, floors and improvements around the exhaust area. A good Barcelona update should be worth around three to four tenths of a second per lap.

As far as drivers’ form is concerned at Barcelona, Felipe Massa, Jenson Button, Pastor Maldonado, Kimi Raikkonen, Fernando Alonso, Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber are all previous winners. Lewis Hamilton has never won the event.

Weather Forecast

The long range forecast looks good with temperatures around 20 degrees and a low chance of rain.

The wind is often a significant factor at this track, sudden gusts and crosswinds can upset the balance of the cars, particularly in the final sector.


Likely tyre performance and other considerations

Pirelli tyre choice for Spain: Hard and Medium.

Catalunya is a tough track on tyres, with the long Turn 3 the most difficult corner. It is taken at 240km/h and the corner lasts for four seconds, which puts a heavy load on the left front tyre. The surface is also quite abrasive.

Last year Pirelli brought the hard and soft tyre while this year they have brought hard and medium. The Hard tyre has been changed after the first four races of the season and is now similar to the 2012 hard tyre, which was the preferred race tyre in Spain last year. The predicted temperatures for the weekend should mean that the hard is in its ideal operating window.

The difference between the medium and the hard should be around 0.5s to 0.8s per lap.

Friday practice will be vital in establishing how long a set of each compound of tyres will last in the long runs in particular. This will dictate qualifying strategy, with teams looking to preserve new sets of their preferred race tyres.

With some high energy right hand corners, the limitation will be with the tyres on the left side of the car, particularly the front; when their performance starts to drop off it will be time to pit.


Number and likely timing of pit stops

With essentially the same hard tyre as last year and the 2013 medium tyre, it is likely that we will see a mixture of two and three stop strategies.

To make a two-stop work a team needs to be able to get to lap 14 or 15, while a three stopper will come in for the first time around lap 10.

Three stops is likely to be the preferred route, with stops on roughly laps 10, 26 and 44.

Chance of a safety car

There have been 5 Safety Car periods in this race since 2003, and 4 of those were for first lap incidents.


Recent start performance

At 730 metres, the run from the grid to the first corner at Barcelona is the longest of the season. So a fully functioning KERS is vital.

Starts are crucial in race strategy and can make or compromise a race.

As far as 2013 start performance is concerned drivers have gained (+) or lost (-) places off the start line this season, on aggregate, as follows –

Gained

+9 Van der Garde
+7 Perez

+6 Button

+6 Gutierrez

+5 Maldonado


+4 Alonso


+4 Sutil***


+4 Hulkenberg**


+2 Chilton
+2 Bianchi

+1 Pic



Held position


Vettel

Di Resta

Lost

-1 Bottas
-1 Massa

-2 Rosberg

-2 Webber*

-3 Hamilton

-3 Raikkonen

-4 Ricciardo


-5 Grosjean

-7 Vergne ****


*Webber dropped from second to seventh after a clutch problem in Australia
** Hulkenberg did not start in Australia *** Sutil suffered puncture from contact with Massa in Bahrain ****Vergne retired following collision.

Pit Stop League Table

Of course good strategy planning also requires good pit stop execution by the mechanics and we have seen tyre stops carried out in two seconds by F1 teams.

The league table below shows the order of the pit crews based on their fastest time in the Bahrain Grand Prix, from the car entering the pit lane to leaving it.

Worth noting is how close it has become with just over a tenth of a second separating the top four teams and 1.5s separating the whole field.
1. Red Bull 21.031s
2. Ferrari 21.123s

3. McLaren 21.161s
4. Mercedes 21.183s 

5. Lotus 21.556s
6 Sauber 21.656s
7. Toro Rosso 22.028s
8. Force India 22.099s
9. Williams 22.066s
10. Caterham 22.252s
11. Marussia 22.552s

The UBS Race Strategy Briefing is written by James Allen with input and data from several of the leading teams’ strategy engineers and from Pirelli as well as JA on F1 technical adviser Mark Gillan

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145 Comments
  1. Stephen Taylor says:

    Quali will be a crucial part of strategy . You will have to qualify in the front 2 rows.

    1. Sebee says:

      Webber quoted on another site that Quali is not as important anymore and teams prefer to save the tires instead of running Q3.

      You guys think there should be points for pole? And if so, how many points in today’s world of 25 points for win?

      1. IJW says:

        There’s no point in rewarding those that didn’t bother doing a Q3 run, or just cruised around to get P8 or P9.
        Therefore, reward the first 5 places only.
        5 points for P1, 4 for P2, 3 for P3, 2 for P4, and 1 for P5.

      2. Jake says:

        Anybody setting a competative time in Q3 gets a set of new tyres, same compound as used for their fastest lap.
        No need for any team to sit out Q3 in the garage.

      3. aezy_doc says:

        10 points for pole, 9 for 2nd 8 for third etc down to 1 for 10th.

      4. Sebee says:

        You don’t think that’s too many points down to 10th?

        I was thinking reward the Pole only. But that whole argument of “you’re just likely rewarding the rich” comes back.

        If you simulate the last 3 years with points for pole for example, you would only reward Vettel more, 2010 wouldn’t be as close and 2011 would be even bigger blow out. Again, last year he had 4 more poles than Alonso, so again by virtue of points for pole you end up taking away Brazil 2012 cliff hanger.

        But on the other side it may push smaller teams to go super agressive in effort to steal some points.

        Looking at history, as I’m sure they decision makers did, I’m starting to lean toward no points for pole. Looking back, points for pole would have taken away nearly every close finish season we’ve had.

      5. Stephen Taylor says:

        But it is very difficult to overtake @ Catalunya

      6. Sebee says:

        Our Pirelli
        Who art unpredictable
        Cursed thy tire is by some
        The racing you spice up
        The drives you make work
        In dry as it is in wetness.
        :-)

      7. UAN says:

        Considering Mark’s dismal race in Bahrain, never being in clean air and overworking his tires the entire race (compared to his teammate running in clean air and winning), I’d say, while Mark is known for speaking his mind, that’s not a guarantee that he’s speaking wisdom.

        If you have a car that’s fast and capable of winning, qualifying and track position is still key – RBR learned after China.

    2. deancassady says:

      I think this race is the wide-open west!
      Trends suggest:
      Red Bull will be fast, quali and race, probably some improvement on tire management.
      Ferrari will be fast.
      Mercedes could be fast in quali.
      Lotus could be fast in race pace.
      McLaren could be the fastest car.
      Three weeks is as long as teams’ get in the development wars!

      1. Stephen Taylor says:

        Mclaren won’t be the quickest.

      2. dean cassady says:

        Stephen: your powers of prescience are indeed impressive.
        Can you divulge the winning lotto numbers please, for this week.
        The point to my comment is that the variability in the sport is at a long term peak.
        We are in the era of the development wars.
        Notwithstanding the fact that Red Bull have tentatively confirmed their long-standing developmental advantage, McLaren is a team that can, within a three week bonanza of time, potentially jump to the front of the line!
        Over the entire course of last year, McLaren was the best car overall; despite all of this ‘argy-bargy’ public relations about their ‘revolutionary’ design, their base coming from last year is amongst the most solid.
        I am quick to agree that the probability of McLaren turning up with a car which ends up winning the Spanish Grand Prix, is slight, from what I see, it is well within the realm of definitely possible.

      3. Stephen Taylor says:

        Perphaps you ought to read this:
        http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/formula-one/22406891

      4. dean cassady says:

        Yeah, yeah, I read that.
        Are you suggesting that I should take anything Jensy says in the media as a major determinant in what I think?
        Is that what you do?
        I don’t do that; for obvious reasons, if you’ve been keeping track of what he says, and also then keeping track of what actually happens.
        What do you do?

  2. Arnie S says:

    With all new upgrades, it’s going to be very difficult to predict. Cataluña should be difficult for Mercedes with tyre wear at turn 3, it should benefit Mercedes and RBR that the compounds have been changed. Lotus will not have the same advantage as previous.

    My guess

    VET
    ALO
    RAI
    HAM

  3. goferet says:

    Man, DRS and Pirelli saved this race.

    Yes, for ages, the Spanish Grand Prix was one of those races the fans never looked forward too as it was always depressing seeing a number of cars on the straight about 3 seconds apart lap after lap unable to get close let alone overtake.

    And in came DRS, KRS and Pirelli in 2011 and I witnessed the best Spanish ”dry” races I ever did see with 4 cars fighting for the win in the first stint (and separated by a mere tenths) and finally a mighty scrap to the finish between Vettel and Lewis >>> magnifico

    Anyway, looking forward to seeing what upgrades various teams have up their sleeve and if they will work for it was at this location 12 months ago that Ferrari made a step in the right direction.

    So, teams I will keep an eye on are Williams, Caterham, Mclaren for all these have promised improved performance at Barcelona.

    Right as a reminder, Anthony Davidson said, since the drivers know this track very well, a pilot who gets beaten by his teammate would have no excuse (discounting reliability and strategy blunders of course)

      1. goferet says:

        @ hero_was_senna

        Oh I see.

        I guess we will have to wait and see for with Jenson, you always have to believe the opposite of whatever he says Lol…

  4. goferet says:

    Some Barcelona stats:

    F1 has been racing in Barcelona since 1991

    i) Apart from the fact that the winner has come from pole in the last 12 years, all winners in the past 22 years have come from the front row with Schumi brilliant wet win in 96 being the exception >>> started P3

    ii) Only 4 times in 22 years has the P2 driver won this race and in two of those occasions, it was a wet race, the other two, it was mechanical issues for the pole sitting Schumi

    iii) Newey cars have won in Barcelona 11 times out 22

    iv) Most successful >>> Schumi 6 wins, Mika 3 wins, Mansell and Kimi 2 wins and all above are the only ones to have own more than 1 race

    v) On the current grid Kimi is the only driver with 2 wins and coincidentally, he is the last winner for both Mclaren and Ferrari, 2005 and 2008 respectively.

    vi) Schumi and Kimi are the only ones to have won in 2 different teams. No driver has won in 3 different teams

    vii) Schumi, Mika & Mansell are the only back to back winners

    1. Martin says:

      One point on your stats, the winner in 2011, Vettel didn’t start on pole.

    2. KRB says:

      Good stat from the FIA’s Race Preview … that whoever wins in Barcelona usually wins other races thru the year. The ONLY driver not to was Maldonado last year.

      Both Hamilton* and Vettel have yet to win pole at Barcelona.

      As for the importance of starting high at Barcelona, that’s of course true. But out of the current grid, only Alonso, Button, and Raikkonen have won from P5 or worse. Interesting also that Webber and Massa have only won from the front row.

      Wins from position (in the order they did it):

      P1-ALO, RAI, MAS, HAM, VET, BUT, WEB, ROS, MAL
      P2-ALO, RAI, MAS, BUT, WEB, VET, HAM
      P3-ALO, RAI, HAM, VET, BUT
      P4-RAI, ALO, HAM, BUT
      P5-ALO, BUT
      P6-ALO, RAI
      P7-RAI, BUT
      P8-ALO
      P10-RAI
      P11-ALO
      P14-BUT
      P15-ALO* (the infamous SIN 08)
      P17-RAI

      1. James Allen says:

        So Maldonado result proves that the stat is not a reliable guide…

      2. KRB says:

        Still reliable … 1 out of 22 times just makes Maldonado the statistical outlier.

  5. stu.b says:

    James,
    Any chance of a piece on the new boys.

  6. goferet says:

    Perhaps after this race, we shall finally get to know which team has the fastest 2013 car.

    You see if you take into account the past pole sitters, these usually tended to be the fastest cars throughout the season as shown below

    2012
    For arguments sake, lets say Lewis Hamilton kept his pole

    2011
    Webber
    Red Bull

    2010
    Webber
    Red Bull

    2009
    Jenson
    Brawn

    2008
    Kimi
    Ferrari

    2007
    Massa
    Ferrari

    2006
    Alonso
    Renault

    2005
    Kimi
    Mclaren

    2004
    Schumi
    Ferrari

    2003
    Schumi
    Ferrari

    2002
    Schumi
    Ferrari

    2001
    Schumi
    Ferrari

    2000
    Schumi
    Ferrari

    1999
    Mika
    Mclaren

    1998
    Mika
    Mclaren

    1997
    Jacques
    Williams

    1996
    Damon
    Williams

    1995
    Schumi
    Benetton

    1994
    Schumi
    Benetton

    1993
    Prost
    Williams

    1992
    Mansell
    Williams

    1991
    Berger
    Mclaren

    1. Jock Ulah says:

      Incredibly useful data –
      Keep up the good work and more often please!

    2. Val from montreal says:

      Except that in 94 , 95 , 2000 , 2001 and 2003 , Schumi’s Ferrari was’nt the all-around fastest car on the grid … Schumacher was the fastest man on the planet however !

      Where did his team mates qualify in 94, 95 , 2000 , 2001 and 2003 at this track ?? Would be a good indicator of how “Fast” Ferrari really was !!

      1. Val from montreal says:

        Forgot to add his Benetton too !

      2. goferet says:

        @ Val from Montreal

        This is where Schumi’s teammates qualified in the above years

        1994
        4th

        1995
        7th

        2000
        3rd

        2001
        4th

        2003
        2nd

        P.s.

        I remember Ferrari were losing performance in 2003 to the Michelin runners thanks to the expanding tyres.

        When this was changed, they got back on top.

      3. Elie says:

        Val you somehow forget that Ferrari was/ is a one driver preferred team. Schumi got preferential treatment with everything including those special Bridgestones!. Sure he was probably the best driver, but it’s a bit rich to say he didn’t have the fastest car when he was at Ferrari. Kimi would have taken 2003 off him had the Mercedes powered Mclaren proved reliable. The other thing is the team mates – whilst their all good drivers its like foolish people comparing Grosjean to Raikkonen.

      4. Val from montreal says:

        You better believe it that Schumacher got preferential treatment ! After all , those little Japanese Bridgestone employees and share-holders must have been happy seeing the best ever deliver the goods race after race, season after season … And unlike Michelin ,who were supplying their “illegal” tires to all of the best top teams , Bridgestone preferred to put all their eggs in one basket , the Ferrari- Schumacher basket !! And they won crushingly too … Bye for now

    3. Connar Tiste says:

      Thanks!
      I find a lot of the F1 stats confusing but the above brings a meaningful perspective to a highly complex topic.

    4. Sebee says:

      What do Webber, Massa, and Berger have in common? :-)

      1. goferet says:

        @ Sebee

        Oh this is easy.

        The thing all three have in common is they all took the red pill.

      2. Sebee says:

        I enjoyed this answer very much.

        …But just like Cypher, all three likely now wish they took the blue.

      3. TGS says:

        2 double letters in their names.

        wEBBEr, mASSA, bERgER.

      4. Sebee says:

        So close to the Massive Burgers I grill on my Weber BBQ!

        Their names make me hungry! :-)

      5. KRB says:

        Your post Sebee brings to mind this bit of Simpsons dialogue:

        Monty Burns: “No, no … you need an open-faced club … a sand wedge.”
        Homer: “Open faced club sandwich … mmm.”

      6. Sebee says:

        KRB,

        Simpsons…wealth of wisdom. While back James talked about how RBR have a carbon rod to stall the wing. I commented, “In Rod We Trust”, but no one picked up on it, I think.

        Has Homer ever gone to an F1 race yet? Obviously he’d have to win the tickets on a call-in radio show. :-)

      7. Sebee says:

        KRB,

        You think Homer and Horner would get along? Could Homer stand in for Horner? :-)

      8. TGS says:

        “Webber Massa Berger” is also an anagram of ‘Sewer grabbers beam’, an ironic nod to the joys of being a number 2 driver.

      9. Grayzee (Australia) says:

        All are so-called number 2 drivers……..and none have won a WDC.

      10. Sebee says:

        If it wasn’t long gone and sold out, I bet you would have won a copy of the 2012 review!

  7. mofs says:

    I guess for the average pit stops it implies that Red Bull, while having the fastest ever stop are also more inconsistent than Mclaren or Ferrari if they’re only hundredths of a second faster.

    1. Tim says:

      Does the total time spent in the pit lane include the section of the track between leaving the circuit proper and entering the speed limited section?
      If it does ,then i imagine the total time will be significantly effected by how fast a driver can negotiate the de- restricted section.

    2. Glennb says:

      It seems that way but a teams average time could be hindered if they needed to change a few noses over a season I guess.

  8. Ganesh says:

    My predictions for the weekend:

    Quali is going to be Lewis vs. Fernando vs. Seb. With Seb more focussed on saving tyres for the race, it will Lewis on top for Saturday. On raceday, Ferrari will be strong – if they don’t make anymore mistakes. So it will be Fernando, Kimi & Seb on the podium – with Fernando & Seb competing for the top step.

    I don’t see Massa / Webber taking the fight to the team mates on Sunday. Romain will be 4th with Lewis taking one more 5th position!!

    Lotus / Force India on 2 stops with the rest on 3 stops.

    Sergio will get the better of Jenson again!!

    No safety cars – suddenly all of them are very careful at the start!!

  9. wizzer says:

    Kimi has won it as well.

    1. Charlie says:

      Thank you…glad someone noticed :)

    2. Antti says:

      I wonder why this hasn’t been fixed in the text, he is even the only two time winner of the current crop. If it’s worth mentioning that Lewis has not won the race, maybe it’d be worth mentioning that as well.

    3. Racer89 says:

      Thanks God, someone has realized that.I really don’t get why Kimi’s name is not there.It is a bit weird :/

      1. Kay says:

        Kimi: Yes yes yes yes, I’ve won it twice, you don’t need to remind me every second.
        :D

      2. marc says:

        Lol love that ;-)

  10. goferet says:

    *Fun fact*

    Now with the Spanish Grand Prix being Alonso’s home race, I understand racing at home gives a driver about 3 tenths in extra performance.

    However, racing at home brings it’s on added pressure to perform which leads to some situations were some drivers crack under the immense pressure as shown by the fact;

    Fangio and Schumi are the only drivers in the history of the sport to have the most wins at their home races (both with 4 wins)

    On the other hand, Prost is the only driver with the most home wins of anybody >>> six in total but, Schumi beat him to the top of the pyramid with 8 wins at the French Grand Prix.

    Yes, Fangio, Schumi and Prost are the only pilots with 4 titles or more.

    1. Paul D says:

      Mansell as well surely? 4 British GP wins and 5 on home soil?

      1. goferet says:

        @ Paul D

        Actually, for the British Grand Prix, Jim Clark and Prost are tied at 5 wins each.

        Mansell is one short with 4 wins.

    2. Loko says:

      Barichello at home was hilarious combo.. I was always wondering before race what happens at this time. He retired 4/6 his Ferrari races and total of 11 during career. And 9 of them are in the row :D Of course some of them have been tech issues but its still grazy stat.

      1. goferet says:

        @ Loko

        Yeah, poor Rubens, never had any luck.

        Who knows maybe an ex put a spell on him Lol…

    3. Tim says:

      If I was a team principal, I would be most annoyed if a driver could ‘up their game’ by three tenths just because they were racing in front of their home crowd. I would expect my drivers to give their absolute best all of the time!

  11. Pete_from_Nepal says:

    Williams a whole second off of Redbull! I guess Michael Johnson really didn’t help that much!

    Besides this:
    James, I read that Lotus were very critical of Pirelli since they brought the M tire. Is this pressure on Pirelli from RB?

  12. John B says:

    Cannot wait! Flying out to Barcelona tomorrow morning for the race. Looking forward to seeing who has taken significant steps forward. Although not a McLaren fan, i’m hoping that they are more competitive and so it helps to mix it up even more at the sharp end!

  13. goferet says:

    *Off topic*

    Taking into account Schumi’s majestic wet win in 1996, this got me thinking:

    Perhaps the way a driver wins his first race for a team is an indication on a driver’s form for the future and whether he will become a force to be reckoned with as shown below;

    1) Spain 1996 – Schumi’s first win for Ferrari:

    During the wet part of the race, was 3 seconds a lap faster than everybody and his fastest lap was 2.2 seconds faster than the seconds fastest.

    Went on to Finished 44 seconds ahead of P2 however, slowed down towards the end.

    Now we all know the great things Schumi went on to do for the team from hence forth.

    b) Belgium 1995 – Schumi’s first win for Benetton:

    Finished 37 seconds ahead of P2. Went on to win 2 titles.

    2) 1962 Belgium – Jim Clark’s first win for Lotus

    Finished 44 seconds ahead of P2 and a full 2 minutes ahead of P3

    3) 1950 Monaco – Fangio’s first win

    Finished a lap ahead of P2, two laps ahead of P3, three laps ahead of 4th and 5 laps ahead of 5th

    4) 2009 China – Vettel’s first win for Red Bull

    Finished 10 seconds ahead of teammate but 44 seconds ahead of P3

    5) 2003 Hungary – Alonso’s first win for Renault

    Finished 16 seconds ahead of P2

    b) 2010 Ferrari – Alonso’s first win for Ferrari

    Finished 16 seconds ahead of teammate and 23 ahead of P3 (however this was an inherited win as Vettel had mechanical issues) and coincidentally his time so far at Ferrari has been characterised by lucking into good results e.g. Valencia 2012.

    4) Canada 2007 – Lewis’ first win for Mclaren

    Finished 4 seconds ahead of P2 in a what was a chaotic race with 4 safety cars (coincidentally, not only did Lewis win his title at Mclaren by the skin of his teeth but also his time at Mclaren was characterised by chaos)

    7) Hungary 2006 – Jenson’s first win for Honda

    Finished 40 seconds ahead and went on to dominate the first half of his title winning year in 2009

    b) China 2010 – Jenson’s first win for Mclaren

    Finished 12 seconds ahead of P2 however this was an inherited win which has somewhat characterised JB’s time at Mclaren e.g. Brazil 2012

    8) San Marino 1988 – Senna’s first win for Mclaren

    Finished 2.3 ahead of teammate Prost’s (though was slowing down towards the end to save fuel) but finished a lap ahead of P3

    P.s.

    The only enigma I found was Prost who at his first win for Mclaren – Monaco 1984 finished only 8 seconds ahead of a fast approaching Senna before the race was red flagged.

    Yes, despite finishing only 8 seconds ahead of Senna, Prost went on to be a force to be reckoned with.

    1. Dan says:

      Now wait just a second buddy! Button’s first win for McLaren was Australia 2010. I only say that with confidence because I was there! 4 of my mates came with me and I successfully converted 2 of them into full-time followers of F1!

      1. goferet says:

        @ Dan

        Whoops

        Thanks for the correction

      2. KRB says:

        One could say Button’s first win for McLaren was an indication of future form … he didn’t win a dry race for them until Suzuka ’11. He won a further three wet races (CHN 10, CAN 11, HUN 11) before winning in the dry.

        Good job with the friends! Did the other two open up a flower shop afterwards? :-)

    2. hero_was_senna says:

      1) Schumacher was on the point of winning his 2nd WDC for Benetton in Belgium 1995. I have to assume you’re meaning 1992?

      2) Alonso, lucking into good results?
      Valencia 2012, he would have been lucky if the 11 drivers that qualified ahead had retired, but he had passed everyone to be second when Vettel was hit by reliability issues.
      Considering he has been driving a car that has not been the equivalent of the Red Bull over those 3 years, and yet has managed to compete for the WDC on 2 occasions, I wouldn’t call this lucky.
      Maybe Grosjean crashing over the top of his car in Belgium was to balance it all out?

      1. Le mister says:

        I’ve got a feeling Alonso will win it this weekend :-)

      2. Spinodontosaurus says:

        He is a damn sight luckier than Vettel is, and if you had to single out one driver who always benefits from others’ retirements, it is Alonso.

      3. KRB says:

        Give.me.a.break.

    3. Kay says:

      Goforet, must you split your posts and stats into eight to nine different posts?!

  14. Alberto Martínez says:

    In the article is said that a good Barcelona update should be worth around 0.3-0.4s per lap but I think for this year these amounts are too high. As Bob Fenley reported yesterday, there is not much left in these cars as they are today since regulations have been pretty stable for the last few years, so teams are not expecting big leaps.

    Apart from McLaren and other teams that have had a difficult start of the season like Williams or Sauber, I expect improvements to be around the 0.1-0.2s per lap.

  15. Anon says:

    Probably one of Lewis’ strongest tracks but his results haven’t really reflected it, 2010 he had a puncture with 2 laps to go and DNFed from 2nd, 2011 he chased Vettel to the end in arguably a slower car and in 2012 he was on pole by a huge margin whilst Button failed to make Q3 and even though he was put to the back of the grid he still finished ahead of his team mate in the race on a 2 stop which no one else managed.

  16. Martin says:

    My predictions haven’t been too good this year, but if Pirelli is right about downforce levels then a Vettel pole and win seems a pretty good choice.

    Ferrari and Lotus are both looking to add qualifying speed, but then which teams are not?

    This might be a good track for Sauber to get a better result with Hulkenberg. The Sauber has tended to qualify well on high downforce demand tracks – Spa, Suzuka, Malaysia, and the upgrades might come off.

    1. Stephen Taylor says:

      My Prediction for the points scorers
      1 Alonso
      2 Massa
      3 Vettel
      4 Hamilton
      5 Webber
      6 Kimi
      7 Button
      8 Perez
      9 Rosberg
      10 Hulkenberg

      1. Martin says:

        An interesting list – it seems you are forecasting an up turn in Ferrari’s and Massa’s form and a large drop in Lotus’.

        Not saying you are/will be wrong, btw. McLaren moving ahead of Force India on a high downforce track seems plausible to me.

      2. Martin says:

        Hi Stephen,

        I noted your later comment that you wanted Raikkonen to win – using Kimi as the only first name may have been a hint to this – and giving it further thought I can see a logic to Red Bull struggling with turns 3 and 4 to look after its tyres and the Ferraris doing well.

        Cheers,
        Martin

      3. Ganesh says:

        What’s the chance of Seb qualifying on hard & trying a short and racy last stint?

  17. Well says:

    Boring meaningless track, from a racing point of view. Same for Silverstone and Monaco. It’s all nostalgia, zero racing.

    And Pirelli keeps saying they will not change anything because some teams want it, yet they keep changing it. They are so full of it. But then again, what do you expect from a manufacturer delivering cheese, eggs and chewing gum for American Wrestling fans instead of tyres for racing fans.

    1. Chris says:

      Agree with you about this track, but Monaco and Silverstone, you’ve got to be kidding surely?

      1. Anon says:

        Monaco is just pure frustration from a fan’s point of view, unless a driver is over a second faster per lap than the one in front then an overtake is almost impossible.

      2. Kay says:

        Last year, everyone cruised to the finish, I almost fell asleep from the race! (The other one I really did fell asleep from was the rain-soaked Canadian GP two or three years back). Can’t get more frustrating than that!

        2010, Alonso started from the back of the grid because he smashed his Ferrari to pieces pre-quali.

        It was then said on TV that drivers need 3 seconds a lap faster than the car in front in order to pull off a successful overtake. 1 sec faster probably would get him near, but not close enough.

        Just something I recall.

    2. Quade says:

      I disagree with Monaco not providing thrills, but I 100% agree with the quote below!

      “They are so full of it. But then again, what do you expect from a manufacturer delivering cheese, eggs and chewing gum for American Wrestling fans instead of tyres for racing fans.”

      Damn good summary.

      1. Kay says:

        Bernie should get proper tyre manufacturers than to get the supermarkets to delivery them tyres when they only sell egg and cheese.

  18. Tornillo Amarillo says:

    Hamilton, it’s time to deliver…

    1. I will says:

      Excuse me!!!
      Are you kidding? Or you meant to say Mercedis, time to deliver a car that Hamilton deserve.

    2. Tornillo Amarillo says:

      In my imagination, and because Hamilton made the pole last year although demoted to P24 in the grid, this weekend I think indeed he can make the pole again and stay ahead to a historic win… In my imagination of course.

  19. 180110 says:

    Well, the reigning Spanish GP champs are not winning it this year for sure. The rest is an open field.

  20. Neil Jenney says:

    I found this comment interesting,

    “…it is an enigmatic circuit, always changing with temperature and wind conditions. A car, which flies in the morning, can be uncompetitive in the afternoon, without anything being changed on the car itself.”

    This strikes me as a very undesirable characteristic for a circuit that is used so extensively for testing, and yet Circuit de Catalunya is the most frequently used circuit for testing.

  21. goferet says:

    @ Martin

    Aah my mistake, forgot about Vettel.

    Yes in the last 12 years it has only been Vettel to have won from P2.

    Also noticed another mistake.

    Of all pole sitters who didn’t win, Webber is the only one that didn’t have mechanical issues.

    1. Glennb says:

      He out qualified Vettel by about 1 hundredth after Vettel had no KERS. The McLarens were nearly a second off in quali. Yep, he duffed the start as usual and spent the race behind Alonso. Classic Webber race. Did better at Monaco however.

  22. Magnus says:

    James could you comment on the tyre situation regarding Red Bull saying they cant race as they like because of the tyres. I cant hear Force India nor Lotus say the same. I thought handeling the tyres was part of the design which Red Bull has got it all in place. The chnges made by Pirelli for instance in this race are they partly due to strong pressure from Red Bull and if so damaging hte sport.
    Is the Pirelli new contract a hostage.

    Magnus

    1. Martin says:

      Hi Magnus,

      It is quite simple in one way – if tyre wear and degradation is minimal then the only penalty for running more downforce is increased aerodynamic drag. If you have more downforce, which generally aids qualifying pace, you can qualify at the front and then cruise off into the distance with the fastest car.

      The weaker tyres constrain the ultimate race pace of the cars with more downforce. So it means Red Bull has experimented with less rear wing level (its downforce advantage comes from the floor of the car), but has decided this costs too much time due to a loss of low speed traction giving a reduced lap time or more wheelspin and increased degradation.

      The suspension geometry can be modified to look after the tyres and I believe Red Bull has done this, leading to aerodynamically weaker Mercedes being faster in qualifying in China and Bahrain (aided by high quality laps by Lewis and Nico).

      A journalist said Paul Hembry from Pirelli reckoned the Red Bulls would have won Malaysia by a lap if the tyres didn’t degrade as RB9 has that much more downforce than the rest of the field based on the load information that Pirelli sees.

      To be really clear: an out of balance car will have poor tyre wear and heat build up, but for two well balanced cars, the one with more downforce will wear its tyres more and generate more tyre heat. This is the case even if both cars are driven around a corner at the same speed with both cars below the limit of adhesion.

      Even in slower corners, more downforce will aid traction. This aids lap time but does not reduce wear or heat build up as it is up to the driver to modulate the throttle. Fast corners are where there is significant load and heat build up, so turn 3 at Barcelona will be a problem for Red Bull.

      If you can recall the 2011 race, the McLarens with less downforce were much faster in the race in general even though they were much slower in qualifying. Vettel was able to use the extra downforce in two keys ways: much greater speed on out laps to quickly pass cars that had not stopped and greater speed through the fast corners – turns 9 and the last turn to have a margin at the end of the straight.

      The downforce-tyre wear penalty is analogous to having a more powerful engine that also uses more fuel. With judicious use, track position can be gained over a couple of laps, but overall, the tyres will degrade quickly.

      The Lotus and Force India are both quite aerodynamically efficient, but lack the total downforce of the Red Bull and to a lesser extent the Ferrari. The suspension set up on the Lotus in particular is designed to look after the tyres. This makes one lap qualifying more difficult as getting the optimum temperature into the tyres with one out lap can be difficult. We saw this in Monaco last year where Grosjean was fast in Q2 after doing several laps but with two one lap runs could not get the tyre temperature.

      My understanding of the Pirelli tyre contract situation comes from Dieter Rencken in Autosport – the FIA declared it would run a tender process for 2014, which would appear to preclude a sole-source arrangement. Pirelli has separately agreed with FOM to a track signage deal, so if another company came along there would still be Pirelli advertising all around the circuits, which is undesirable for the other companies. There are also uncertainties about the required tyre characteristics for the new engines, such as a wider rear tyre. There is also talk about a different wheel diameter, possible increase in tyre diameter. All this makes it difficult for any tyre company. Pirelli at least wants to continue and is putting thought into the new tyres. Any other company would be taking a much greater financial risk to do the same R&D work. The tyre wear issue does not appear to factor on the deliberations. I believe the contract is with the FIA and that the teams do not get a say in who the provider is. The teams would get a say in any change to the dimensions, but not the performance characteristics. However, with the absence of a Concorde agreement, the Technical Working Group has no authority and the FIA could do whatever it wants.

      Cheers,
      Martin

      1. Yago says:

        Hi Martin, impressive exposition. This is why I read this blog, there are people like you with tons of knowledge about F1 (apart from JA ofcourse).
        Interestingly, I read Lewis Halmilton said the Mercedes was the most rear end planted car he has driven in F1. He said that was the type of car he liked to drive most, not an oversteery car as most people think (including myself before reading the statement).
        I guess then the merc generates a lot of downforce on the rear, but someway lacks it on the front? Is it just mechanical traction together with very good stability under breaking? I’m a bit confused on what type of car the merc is, is it very good aerodinamically (I don’t think so) or is it simply mechanically superior to the rest? It has to have something special to be that quick. Maybe James Allen can shed some light too.

      2. Spinodontosaurus says:

        Indeed, I believe it was in fact Hamilton himself that was causing oversteer by deliberately locking the rear axle under braking, leading many to assume he liked the car itself to be oversteery.

      3. Yago says:

        Yes. He said something like he was comfortable by doing that if it was needed, but that he preferred to drive with a well planted rear end. And that is the way he is driving now with the merc. He does not deliberately lock the rear end any more now. I think it’s interesting.

      4. KRB says:

        Does anyone know if the Merc has the “mail slot” behind and under the nose cone? Having that would help with front-end downforce.

      5. ferggsa says:

        Martin

        You should be writing the articles instead of the comments, great post!

        FGG

      6. Joel says:

        How could you know so much info – you don’t seem to be a regular reader. Are you Martin Whitmarsh by any chance? :)
        Just kidding. Thanks for the excellent info.

    2. mhilgtx says:

      Make no mistake about it the changes Pirrelli are making are due to the fans and Bernie complaining. The teams are complaining all but Lotus. Paul Hembrey is Spinning like a political hack every time he opens his mouth.

      Also Pirelli isn’t changing out the tire that is the worst fit. The SuperSoft is the tire that is a disaster as seen in Q3 China. What they are doing though is basically not using that tire as they planned just like they did last year. Last year they ended up using harder compound choices instead of changing the actual compound itself.

    3. Kay says:

      No good for the designers if there aren’t any testing.

  23. Magnus says:

    James could you comment on the tyre situation regarding Red Bull saying they cant race as they like because of the tyres. I cant hear Force India nor Lotus say the same. I thought handeling the tyres was part of the design which Red Bull has not got it all in place. The chnges made by Pirelli for instance in this race are they partly due to strong pressure from Red Bull and if so damaging the sport.
    Is the Pirelli new contract a hostage.

    Magnus

  24. glennb says:

    Webber pole / win.
    You heard it here first ;)

    1. Patrick says:

      And yes glennb, we will all still be laughing after the race.

  25. Fireman says:

    Kimi whatever / win. That’s how it goes :D

    1. Stephen Taylor says:

      I hope so but I think Ferrari will score a one-two.

  26. Elie says:

    You’d have to have rocks in your head not to favour Red Bull at this circuit especially after what we saw at Bahrain. Ferrari will be ruthless for redemption after their woes of late and certainly this race maybe won ( or should I say lost) at the first corner. I just hope we don’t see any glory boys mess it up for someone.

    Sure every team updates its car but usually it’s the second weekend of fine tuning before we see the real gains in most cases. its incredible whenever Red Bull brings a major update the car is usually 1/2 to 3/4 of a second quicker almost immediatly when everyone finds 1/10 or 2. As usual I m hoping Lotus find that mystery quali pace but if Kimi started 5th last year – I reckon he can find 4th this year – which makes him the man to watch in the race. His comments post Bahrain see him unusually fired up ( or should we read that as passive frustration) for quali pace and I think he might do something very special this weekend. Mind you in a different way he does that every weekend.

    James any idea when are we going to see this confounded Lotus passive DRS make a return & if its not happening anymore why don’t Lotus remove the intake gills on the air box? They must have some indirect cooling advantages with them also- would be interested to hear what James Allison has to say about this if you get a chance .

    Unfortunately I have my nephews wedding on Sunday night.. So I think I will be sneaking a peak at the live timing app:. I will try not read this site till Monday after Ive watched the replay but I won’t make any promises :) terrific as usual James !

    1. hero_was_senna says:

      I’m so disappointed in you. Surely they have a bar with television there?
      It’s only a wedding after all! :)

      1. Elie says:

        My first words “I’m sorry I cant make the wedding-F1 is on”..Then hearing”..but your his god father “.

        Dont push me Hero_Is_Senna I’m already contemplating leaving the party early just to find a nice quite spot–back home to watch it..hehe

      2. hero_was_senna says:

        Lmao, some people are so selfish.
        In Italy, godfathers have a certain respect, something to do with horse meat in lasagna I believe!
        Enjoy the event, then the anticipation of avoiding every news source till you’re home :)

      3. David says:

        Do you have a mobile phone? How inconsiderate of your god child to schedule the wedding during F1.lol

    2. mhilgtx says:

      Can’t you get it on a mobile app in Europe?

      1. Elie says:

        Got the live timing app- but it ain’t the same is it :)

    3. Quade says:

      What would James Allison think? The man has suddenly left Lotus, rumours are that he’s been sucked in by F1′s huge new alien virus, Merc.

      With that happening, Lotus might be in some turmoil which might show in their updates.

      1. Elie says:

        Yep found out only about an hour after I posted the above.

        Still the E21 and its updates would most certainly be mapped out for the next 3months at least so I really think if there is ever a good time for a tech director to leave its now. Because Lotus don’t want all of next years car to go with him too and this season would be very much mapped out. But from a human / phsycologicall side it’s always challenging especially given your top driver is a wanted man too- this will be a tough challenge now for Eric Boullier and Gerard Lopez. It could be the thing that tips the scales for Kimi to go to RBR. Im sure it will all come down to performance and confidence in how they progress from here but if its not forward it can be perceived as a loss of Allison now.

        Very interesting that James may go to Merc..because Mercedes- more than anyone need a man that knows how to build cars that look after tyres. But being English he would certainly consider Mclaren as home instead of the Austrian – German team. Can’t wait to hear more.

      2. Quade says:

        Lol! I love your description of Kimi as a wanted man, its colourful and so true.
        I wonder if Vettel would stay at RBR if someone of Kimi’s calibre turns up. There could be some huge ripple effects from Allison depature indeed.

        The news says James Allison turned down McLaren and think that Ferrari will be where he’ll end up. Toto Wolff has said that Merc, through Niki Lauda made a move. I guess the suspense from the wait for his announcement of his new employer will be well worth it. This is one move that will shuffle the F1 deck of cards.

  27. Michael S says:

    With that super far run to corner one I expect the Ferrari’s to be leading. Ferrari seems to get off the line like a rocket. I fear Lotus will struggle to keep pace on the long drag race to corner one, but like always will show great race pace.

    1. Doobs says:

      Also wondering if RB relative slow speed makes them vulnerable to Merc into T1

      1. Quade says:

        Merc start very slowly. They fairly lumber off the start line when laden with fuel.
        Its more realistic to hope that the Torro Rosso’s and Force India’s aren’t streaming past the Mercs by the first corner.

  28. Racer89 says:

    OMG,according to a website(I think I shouldn’t give its name),James Allison is no longer Technical Director of Lotus. He is now on gardening leave. Have you heard something about this ,James?

    1. hero_was_senna says:

      It was tweeted by an Italian journalist. Whether any truth to it, I don’t know, but Nicholas Chester has replaced him and current rumours are his destination is either Mclaren or Ferrari.

      1. Stephen Taylor says:

        What now for Kimi?

      2. Elie says:

        Just read it http://mobile.formula1.com/news/headlines/2013/5/14523 Nick Chester Lotus engineering director takes over.

        Doowwhh ! I could see it coming but I really had hoped he would stay. I wonder if its Mclaren he will go too & does this impact on Kimis decision to stay or move on to Red Bull ?

        Ahh well good luck to him he’s really earned his striped at Lotus.

      3. hero_was_senna says:

        Well, I’m not a fan of Kimi, but one way or another, if he ends up at RBR, we’ll finally have an answer to the Vettel conundrum. I still remember Kimi in that 2005 Mclaren, designed by Newey.
        I can’t wait to hear him tell Horner that he didn’t understand the message to slow down.

        Maybe this all ties in with the Vettel to Ferrari rumours doing the rounds last year..

      4. Elie says:

        Yeah I think he will be competitive but at the same time it’s a bit hard comparing someone starting with a new team at 34-35 to someone who’s 27 and been there for 5-6 years with 3 titles . I really don believe there is that much between the top 4 drivers in any case.Seb is definitely the real deal but Kimi or Fernando in the same car would have taken half his wins with Hamiltons maybe a few more.instead of the 2 Mark takes each year.

        2005 interestingly he would have been Sebs age now and 7 wins 3 mech failures whilst leading and 2 more whilst in strong position. 2003 coming 2nd by only two points and again two mechanical failures in a 2002 car. How many drivers are that good ever. 2004 that Mclaren was just a mobile hand grenade

    2. Quade says:

      He’s been linked to Merc, Ferarri and Williams. I’ll wager that its Merc that have swooped for him. They seem to have become something of an F1 talent vaccuum.

      Maybe Adrian Newey is next. Mothers, keep a watchfull eye on your kids, the bogey man be next door! :)

  29. Methusalem says:

    “supplying an extra set of these tyres to each team for use on Friday so they can gain more mileage and knowledge.”

    No wonder all the teams prefered to remain in the box for the 1st 45 minutes of the Bahrain GP on Friday. I wish this tyre issue is settled once and forever.

  30. monsterFG says:

    I just have one question, why are they altering tyre’s to suit red bull. They should have left the tyres as is bad bloody luck for bull’s if they couldnt work them out, to me it seem’s Bernie had a whisper to pireli that bull’s must win again. F1 is a proper bitch fest now days.

  31. heinzman (Fan of ALO) says:

    Not sure RB will have it their own way as many mention. This circuit is much more front limited (closer to China) than Bahrain , so they may not have any advantage. Lotus and Ferrari to be right there.

    With the new rubber it could be a cracker.

  32. mhilgtx says:

    First my predictions, since I was dead on last race predicting problems with Ferrari and Vettel for the win I am sure I will be completely wrong this week.

    1. Vettel
    2. Ferrari (one of the 2)
    3. Kimi
    4. Force Inda (one of the 2)
    5. Webber
    6. Ferrari (one of the 2)
    7. Force India
    8. Merc
    9. Merc
    10. Grossjean

    I think Masa finish’s second and Alonso yet again makes a mental blunder. If Alonso is perfect he could very well win. Until I see different I just don’t believe Ferrari is organized enough to win on a track that favors Adrian Newey designed cars and Vettel’s driving style enough that he also has a win.

    If Mercedes gets it’s tire heat problem fixed they will finish at least with one podium.

    Lotus, I thought they were planning on having their passive DRS ready for this weekend. It seems like a major update and might need some fine tuning so we will see. James do I remember that correctly?

    Force India seems to be improving rapidly and my vote for them is more a wish than anything else.

    I just took a long look at the remaining calendar and I was gobsmacked as my new found EU UK mates on here might say. The number of multi-week breaks is … just wow. My question is, is that how it is always done with all these lengthy breaks?

    1. Quade says:

      Ha! I like the way you boldly made a prediction, then went ahead to cover most angles next. :)

      You’ve forgotten totally about McLaren. Don’t you think Spain will see them will recovering from their slump? I wouldn’t write them off, we could be in for a great McLaren surprise.

      1. mhilgtx says:

        You are completely right I forgot all about Mclaren, hopefully they will get the upgrade they need.

        So my only prediction is that Vettel will win. That Ferrari will be strong as this I believe is a front tire limited track. Ferrari is it’s own worst enemy so far this year.

  33. Carl says:

    To James Allen:

    When you type James Allen under google we get the picture of the criminal James Allen ( http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2012/apr/29/james-allen-arrested-leeds-manhunt ) but refered to as :James Allen is a British radio/TV commentator who worked on ITV’s Formula One coverage until it ceased at the 2008 Brazilian Grand Prix.

    I hope you understand what I mean, I also don’t know how you can rectify this with google.

    Best regards,

    1. James Allen says:

      That is hilarious. Thanks for spotting it. I’ll get onto Google

      1. Elie says:

        Yeah- on google your somewhere between an American Jeweller and a wanted Leeds criminal. I would say that your between a rock and hard place James. But us fans have always thought your a diamond in the rough of all the other sites. Sorry couldn’t resist – hope you sort it out.:)

      2. James Allen says:

        To be fair, at least JA on F1.com comes up as number one on a search of “James Allen” – as I learned just now. Ahead of the US jeweller and the murderer and the philosopher

        There’s a young Aussie single seater driver with the same name too, it seems

      3. Carl says:

        You are welcome Mr. Allen.

        Best regards,

  34. Witan says:

    Quite a separate thought. If Lowe is Technical Director who oversaw the design of the current McLaren then would he be right for Mercedes as team boss now they seem to be getting their act together?

  35. Ryan Eckford says:

    I think with the temperatures being relatively low, along with the difficulty of overtaking on this circuit will play into the hands of Mercedes, and I believe the next period of races will suit them perfectly.

  36. Elie says:

    Vettel, Alonso, Raikkonen, Grosjean, Hamilton, Webber, Button,Rosberg, Sutil, Perez

  37. Quade says:

    Merc have been getting more silver with each passing race. It seems McLaren will not be the only chrome car in Barcelona.

    They are also coming with a new front wing, new rear wing and new exhaust.
    http://www.worldcarfans.com/113050857404/mercedes-to-reveal-more-silver-livery-in-spain

    I doubt Merc can ever equal McLarens mouth-watering beauty though. The McLaren is as elegant as a thoroughbred race horse.

    That said, I hope McLaren can up their game and take their place among the front runners. I’m not a fan of either of their drivers, but I’ll be rooting for Perez, the underdog.

    1. James Allen says:

      Can you please stop with the Button bashing (in other posts that have been deleted)

      You know that is not the way we operate here

      1. Quade says:

        Ok, will do. I do think I was a bit unfair in that post.

    2. mhilgtx says:

      Well I for one would love it if they were able to minimize the amount of Teal on the car. I know that is Petronas’s color but does Teal really scream racy to you? Yeah I know the Benneton cars were colorful but that was different somehow.

      1. KRB says:

        Yes, agreed. German racing silver, black, white and red would make for a formidable looking race car.

  38. Alexander says:

    James: thank you for the strategy briefings. They are essential reading before every grand prix.

    A request for the future: could you include which side of the track is the clean side and how much of a difference it makes at this racetrack compared to others?

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