Renault DP World F1 Team’s Daniel Ricciardo has said it will be “interesting” racing at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya at this time of year, compared to the time of year when they would normally be at the circuit for pre-season testing, and the race, which had to be moved due to COVID-19 restrictions.
He said: “It’s probably the most familiar circuit for all of us with all the pre-season and in-season testing we do there. I think it’s going to be interesting going there now, this late in the year, when it’s going to be a lot warmer than in February or even May when we usually race.
“We had a decent winter test there earlier in the year, but the car has changed a bit since then, so I’m looking forward to trying that out. It’s not usually the most exciting of races for overtakes as it’s a high-speed circuit and quite hard to follow the car in front. I think if we can qualify well, there’s no reason we can’t have a strong result.”
Reflecting on their performance at the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix at Silverstone last time out, Ricciardo said he was please with the amount of points they were able to bring home, noting that they did not perform as well as they would of liked in the race as their strategy was not as effective as they had hoped.
“To take 24 points as a team from the two races is certainly very good; not only from a performance perspective but also for the Constructors’ Championship.
“We definitely missed out a bit on Sunday, though, after a decent qualifying. For some reason, we just couldn’t make the two-stop work, especially on the Medium tyre on the second stint.
“We’ll investigate what we can do to improve that next time, so it was a bit disappointing not to score any points. But we’ve definitely found an improvement in performance and that’s really pleasing. We’ll aim to put it all together this weekend in Barcelona, and it’s exciting to have a change of scenery!” he concluded.
“It’s a big challenge” – Ocon
Ricciardo’s team-mate Esteban Ocon also said he enjoys racing at the circuit, as it is familiar to them as they do all the testing there prior to the start of the season every year, but added “it’s a big challenge” for both the cars and the drivers.
“Barcelona is a bit like the home for Formula 1 – in a way – with all the testing we do there in the winter. It’s a track where I had my best result in Formula 1: fifth place in 2017. I’ve always had success there and had really good feelings going there as it’s one of my favourite tracks. I’m looking forward to it and aiming for a solid result,” said the Frenchman.
He added that it is a difficult circuit to drive, with the first and second sectors being quite fast, made more tricky due to the heat which is generated within the tyres.
“In general, it’s a big challenge for the cars and the drivers. Sector 1 and 2 are fast and tricky with the tyres generating a lot of heat through the quick corners like Turns 3 and 9. You arrive into the final sector just trying to get the car home as the rears tend to get hot and you lose a bit of grip.
“It’s a technical challenge, but it’s one I enjoy. Looking at how we performed in Silverstone, the car should be strong there too, especially in the low-speed Sector 3.
“Everyone is working hard during these three consecutive races, so we must keep the motivation for this one as well and target some good points,” he said.
“We’re not expecting any surprises” – Pilbeam
Chief race engineer Ciaron Pilbeam has said the team are not expecting anything out of the ordinary to happen this weekend, as they are so used to racing at the track.
“Barcelona is very much split into two sections. The first two sectors are mostly high- speed corners and then the end of the lap is generally much slower and very tough on the rear tyres as there are so many corners close together. One thing that is different for this race is the time of year,” said Pilbeam.
“Normally we test in Barcelona in the winter in February and then race in May when it’s warmer. We’re now racing in August and it could be very hot. There might be less grip when it gets hot, but it won’t change the fundamentals of the track.”
He added: “We’ve done thousands of laps there over the years. Drivers and engineers alike know the circuit inside out. It was resurfaced a couple of years ago so it’s a lot smoother than it used to be. We’re not expecting any big surprises, just the usual tuning of set-up and learning the tyres.”