|Get these damn cars out of the way!|
The Circuit de Catalunya 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 is often taken as an indicator of how well a car will go at the next race in Monaco.
Location : Montmeló, Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain
Track length : 4.65 kilometres
Race distance : 66 laps (307 kilometres)
Corners : 16 corners in total, considered the best test of an F1 car’s aerodynamic efficiency due to combination of variety of corner speeds
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 (2013)
Time spent braking : 13% of the lap (quite low). 8 braking zones
Brake wear : Medium/low
Total time needed for pit stop : 21 seconds
Lap record : 1:21.670 (Kimi Räikkönen, Ferrari, 2008)
2014 Winner: Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
2014 Pole Position: Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) 1:25.232
2014 Fastest Lap: Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull) 1:28.918
Expected weather conditions for the race: Dry and warm, peaking at 25 degrees centigrade but dropping to 13 degrees centigrade overnight. Some overcast intervals leading up to the race, but bright and clear for race day.
Friday - Sunny, high 29°C / low 15°C
Saturday - Sunny, high 24°C / low 14°C
Sunday - Sunny, high 25°C / low 13°C
The two DRS (Drag Reduction System) zones used in 2013 will be in use again at the Circuit de Catalunya this year. The first one will have a detection point just before Turn 9, and it will run the length of the short straight between Turns 9 and 10. Don’t anticipate much to happen down here.
The second will have its detection point just after Turn 15 and will run for most of the length of the long pit straight, ending with braking for Turn 1, with activation 157m after Turn 16.
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 generally is also quite abrasive. Last year saw the winner Fernando Alonso do four stops, due to high tyre degradation. This year three stops is more likely with some two stoppers.
Paul Hembery: "Spain is obviously one of the more familiar venues that we go to, as there has already been plenty of data gathered during testing. One of the things we have noticed so far is that this year Barcelona will once again be a front-limited circuit, from a tyre perspective. Last year, the increase in traction and torque from the cars meant that for the first time the race became a rear-limited event, with the useful life of the rear tyres dictating the pit stop strategy. Thanks to the improvements we made to the rear tyre construction for this year, we're back to Barcelona being a front-limited circuit again. However, we do not expect this to mean that there will necessarily be more pit stops this year: last year the majority of competitors used a two-stop strategy and that will probably be the case again. The biggest unknown factor will be the weather: in the past we have seen some very hot weather in Barcelona, but it isn't always guaranteed. The start of the European season traditionally means that many teams bring important upgrades, and it will be very interesting to see how these interact with our 2015 tyres."
Lewis Hamilton is on a roll and seems mentally strong, hard to beat. Nico Rosberg really has his work cut out for him. The question is now, whether Kimi Raikkonen can spring a surprise and mount a serious challenge for the win this time. Can't wait to see the sparks fly on race day.
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