Williams will be hoping that the extended break between the Chinese Grand Prix and the start of the European season will have been enough to improve the car and get the jump on its rivals.
“Spain is a good leveller,” explained Head of Vehicle Performance, Rob Smedley. “Getting back to Europe gives teams the opportunity to bring further upgrades,which we will also be doing. Barcelona and the following two or three races gives everyone a good indication of how the rest of the season will play out and who has made the most progress since the start of the season. The teams and drivers know the track well, meaning we can gain a lot of accurate data on how the upgrades are working.”
Barcelona brings back happy memories for Felipe Massa, who won the 2007 Spanish Grand Prix, and he hopes the experience of that victory will be an advantage over those around him on the grid.
“I know what it takes to win at the circuit so I can have a little confidence when driving there,” he said. “Downforce is really important in Spain so we have to make sure the aerodynamic set-up is correct. We have been working on developing the car in this area. Barcelona is historically a place where teams bring upgrades, but as every team does this it’s a case of whose upgrades make the most difference. I am really looking forward to racing again in Europe.”
Meanwhile, team-mate Valtteri Bottas has enjoyed a strong start to the 2014 season, scoring four consecutive top 10 results and currently sits seventh in the points standings. However, he is well aware of the importance of constantly improving the car and how much of a marker the Spanish Grand Prix will be for the rest of the season.
“The time gap between China and Spain has been really important as we have had time to improve the car, although how much we have moved forward is hard to say until we drive it,” said Bottas. “We haven’t driven in Spain with the current car, which is unusual as in previous years we completed a lot of laps in testing, so we all know the layout well, but will need to work on the set-up.”
“The track itself has a very good mix of long straights, some high speed corners like Turn 3 and some more technical and slower sections,” concluded Smedley. “Turn 3 is important for managing tyre wear so it’s something engineers and drivers have to monitor throughout the weekend. We feel prepared going in to the weekend and are now interested to see where we are in comparison to our competitors.”