The Red Bull Racing team arrive at the Circuit de Catalunya in Spain this weekend sitting as best-of-the-rest behind the dominant Mercedes team. The team sit second in the championship but 97 points adrift of their rivals upfront. Sebastian Vettel is the leading Red Bull driver in the drivers’ championship in fifth, with team-mate Daniel Ricciardo one place behind him in sixth.
Both drivers are looking forward to the beginning of the European season, having travelled to Australia, Malaysia, Bahrain and China for the opening four races. The Spanish track has been widely used in recent years for testing, though for the first time in a long time, no F1 testing was done here in 2014.
Daniel Ricciardo admits he enjoys the track, but knows a compromised set-up will have to be utilised due to the track containing fast and slow sections.
“I’ve always enjoyed the Circuit de Catalunya and think it’s a great track,” admitted Ricciardo. “It’s a ‘bit of everything’ circuit – which is why it’s proved so popular as a testing venue. The first sector is really nice, with the corners all-flowing together and the second sector, while a bit more technical, is also really interesting.
“The final sector is less good but you can understand why they changed it; I assume the old layout was more exciting. It’s a good track to defend on, but one that demands a lot of concentration and the right set-up. The trade-off is that you need fairly low downforce on the long main straight but that compromises the rest of your lap and makes the car difficult to control. Finding the right balance isn’t simple.”
Team-mate and the reigning four-time Formula 1 World Champion Sebastian Vettel knows how to win in Spain, having taken the spoils back in 2011. He knows it will be a challenge to win here again this season, especially with overtaking being traditionally difficult.
“The Circuit de Catalunya is varied with 180 degree bends, fast, sweeping corners and elevation changes,” added Vettel. “There isn’t much opportunity to overtake, so getting a good start position in qualifying will be crucial. The long, fast curves of Montmelo mean that it will suit a car with highly efficient aerodynamics. The track is very challenging on the tyres because of the same very fast corners, so lots of pit stops are likely in the race.
“A nice side aspect of that is that we are back in the Energy Station, which provides a lot of space for us and the team – it will become a little bit like home over the next few weeks.”