Formula 1

2024 Spanish Grand Prix: What the Teams are Saying ahead of the Weekend

11 Mins read
Photo: Getty Images/Red Bull Content Pool

Formula 1 heads to Barcelona this weekend for Round 10 of the FIA Formula 1 World Championship for the 2024 Spanish Grand Prix.

Max Verstappen returned to winning ways last time out at the Canadian Grand Prix, extending his championship lead over Charles Leclerc and Oracle Red Bull Racing’s lead in the Constructors with both Scuderia Ferrari cars missing out on points in Montreal.

The Spanish Grand Prix is always a crucial part of the season, with nearly all of the grid bringing upgrade packages and it’s no different this year. The drivers and team representatives have given their thoughts ahead of the weekend, read what they had to say below:

Max Verstappen — Oracle Red Bull Racing — Driver

“We are back to the European races for a while now and I have been with the Team at the factory this week preparing for the Spanish Grand Prix, being the first race of a busy triple header.

Barcelona will be the first race where I will be debuting my new orange helmet. 

“As a tribute to my fans and all of their support, they are actually featured on helmet and I think the final design looks really cool and detailed. I have great memories from the circuit, especially winning my first Formula One race there. 

“It has a good mix of high and low-speed corners and we have historically driven well there so hopefully we can maximise the performance of the car this weekend. We are aiming to keep the momentum going from Canada, so we are looking forward to racing this weekend and hopefully have some good weather!”

Sergio Pérez — Oracle Red Bull Racing — Driver

“Coming into Spain I know I need a successful weekend, after a disaster in Canada. Sometimes you are forced to reset a little and we have done that since the last race. I have been in Milton Keynes working with the Team to try and identify where and what we can do better to ensure I am getting the most out of this car. 

“I am confident in the car and the performance we can execute from it, but I need to show that on track better in Barcelona. I always enjoy the Spanish GP, it feels a lot like home and everyone makes me feel so welcome. 

“It’s a circuit I know very well and the RB20 should be quick around this type of track, so it’s down to us to get things right and bring home the result we know we are capable of.”

Fred Vasseur — Scuderia Ferrari — Team principal

“The Spanish Grand Prix should see us return to being competitive, with the same level of performance we have demonstrated throughout the season prior to the Canadian Grand Prix. In fact, we come to Barcelona buoyed by the fantastic performance from our Ferrari Hypercar colleagues who have just won the Le Mans 24 Hours for the second year running. 

“We learned some valuable lessons from the Montreal weekend and feel we have now moved on from there. We have to work calmly and continue to focus on ourselves. The Barcelona-Catalunya circuit has always been regarded as a great test of a car’s all-round ability and we expect to be back on our usual form here. 

“However, all season long we have seen qualifying and the race fought out to the nearest hundredth of a second, so it will be vital for us to ensure we do everything correctly, down to the smallest detail. That will involve being on top of our game, because only by executing every session perfectly can we get the results we know we are capable of.

“This is Carlos [Sainz’s] home race and I’m sure all that extra support from the fans will be an added boost for him. It’s going to be an interesting weekend and we are counting on scoring plenty of points.”

Lando Norris — McLaren F1 Team — Driver

“It’s great to be back in Europe after a successful Canadian GP for us. We were close to another win, but I’m happy to get another podium and important points for the team. It’s a great place to be in, fighting for wins, and it makes me really excited for the rest of the season. 

“We know we’ve got a little bit of work to do to ensure we’re winning more regularly, but we’re moving in the right direction.

“Last week I was back at the MTC to see the team and prepare for Barcelona. I always enjoy going to Spain, there’s always a great atmosphere from the fans and it’s an amazing city. 

“The track has its challenges with a real mix of slow and high-speed corners, but I think we’re in a good position to maximise our performance and get the most out of the car. We’ve got our eyes on the prize, let’s go!”

Oscar Piastri — McLaren F1 Team — Driver

“Canada was another strong weekend for the team and I was pleased to continue a productive run of results from Imola and Monaco. It’s a nice feeling to be consistently fighting at the front and being in the mix for the big prizes.

“I’ve had some decent performances in Barcelona in the junior categories and the car feels in a good place thanks to all the hard work put in by the whole team. I’m looking forward to touching down in Spain.”

Toto Wolff — Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team — Team principal and CEO

“We have continued to make incremental gains across the past few races. It was encouraging therefore to take another positive step forward in Canada. To see that translate into our strongest team result of the season so far is a reward for everyone’s hard work. 

“The Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is a unique track, however. It has a narrow range of corner speeds and, with a newly re-laid surface, was something of an outlier compared to more traditional venues. 

“We know our competitors will perform more strongly at upcoming races so we will need to continue to work hard to consistently get ourselves in the fight for podiums, and eventually race wins. 

“Barcelona will provide a good test of our progress. It has a mix of fast, medium, and low speed corners, a long straight and plenty of elevation change. Tracks that contain this wide speed range have been a weakness of ours so far this year. 

“This weekend will therefore provide another opportunity to evaluate our progress through our recent updates, and we hope to build on the positive momentum from Montreal.”

Fernando Alonso — Aston Martin Armaco F1 Team — Driver

“The Spanish Grand Prix has always been a special race for me and it’s always nice to come home and embrace the amazing atmosphere.

“This will be my 21st Spanish Grand Prix and I will feel as proud as I did at my first home race when I go round the track. The Spanish fans always come out in full force and provide us with the additional motivation to do well.

“Over the years there have been some exciting battles on track and one that stands out is my win in 2006. It was my first victory at my home race, and I will always remember the fan’s reactions it was very special.

“There is always a different kind of energy at the Spanish Grand Prix for me – the fans are so passionate. Another good memory of mine was the blue wave in 2005 and 2006 which is now becoming a green wave.”

“It’s a circuit all the drivers and teams know well so everyone has a lot of experience there. Tyre degradation is a key factor at this track which means the pit-stop strategy plays a big part in the race.

“Overtaking is not easy either, so making sure the car is set-up right ahead of Saturday will be important as qualifying position is crucial to having a good Sunday.”

“The removal of the chicane helped to make the last sector more flowing, and it has made tyre management even more important throughout the race. I think it’s quite fun to drive through it again at high-speed.”

We left Montreal with a double points finish; do you think that result can act as motivation for the team moving forwards?

“The team are working flat out to bring new parts to every race and hopefully we can improve our competitiveness. The Spanish Grand Prix marks the start of a triple-header so we need to work together as a team to make sure we are able to extract the maximum we can from each weekend.

“We will also need to support each other during the next three races, as triple-headers can be a physical and mental challenge for everyone in the team, not just the drivers.”

Fernando Alonso in the FIA press conference ahead of the Spanish GP weekend – photo: Aston Martin Armaco F1 Team

Daniel Ricciardo — Visa Cash App RB — Driver

“Barcelona is always a track where everyone brings updates, so I think it’s going to be a really competitive weekend. Let’s see what everyone brings. I’m excited to drive it with the faster last sector that they changed for last year. 

“I’m looking forward to getting back on that track. Normally, it’s quite familiar but we didn’t do any testing there this year, so should be fun. I’m looking forward to keeping this run going, trying to get some more Q3 appearances and points finishes. I’ve been waiting a while, but I like to think it’s the start of where my season continues to progress and show performances like I did in Montreal. 

“I’m really looking forward to it and excited to get the European leg started!”

Yuki Tsunoda — Visa Cash App RB — Driver

“Even though the race in Montreal didn’t go the way I wanted, and the weekend as a whole was a bit up and down, it was positive that we managed to turn things around from Free Practice to qualifying, from one extreme to another. It showed that, as a team, we know how to adapt, and we came back well to get to Q3 once again. This definitely gives me lots of confidence that we know how to turn things around and make them work! 

“Now it’s time for Barcelona, which is a tough test for the car, but so far this season the VCARB 01 seems to perform well at all tracks, so I have no concerns on the performance side. As for the track itself, Sector 1 and Sector 3 are different animals and you can’t really have a car that is well-balanced in both of them, so you need to compromise, but we are not worried about that. 

“The key will be to get a good understanding of how our package is working at this track as soon as possible during Free Practice and then get the most out of it. 

“It’s another track where overtaking is difficult so qualifying will again be very important. I seem to be performing quite well in quali in recent races, maybe it’s the way I build up to it over Free Practice and it’s also linked to controlling my emotions, managing myself better and doing it consistently. That makes your driving and feedback better and gives me extra confidence, so I’m looking forward to it.”

Nico Hülkenberg — MoneyGram Haas F1 Team — Driver

“It’s one of the classic circuits we’ve been going to over the years. It’s obviously a very high-speed circuit and I think it’s going to be very hot there this year, it used to be the first race of the European season. 

“I expect there’s going to be very hot, Spanish, temperatures. The vibes in Barcelona and the Spanish lifestyle are pretty cool and go well with a fun race. I like triple-headers, we’ve known them now for a few years and June is that month when things get quite busy.”

Kevin Magnussen — MoneyGram Haas F1 Team — Driver

“It’s one of the most well-known tracks for all the drivers, probably the track I’ve done most laps of out of them all. It’s a good track, lots of high-speed corners there, and can be quite difficult to overtake. 

“It’s become better, the track is more enjoyable after they’ve removed the last chicane and that’s also helped overtaking a little bit, so hopefully we can be competitive there. 

“It’s a triple-header, but it’s nice to be in the European part of the season, it’s all familiar surroundings, short flights and no jet lag.”

Pierre Gasly — BWT Alpine F1 Team — Driver

“The Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya is probably the place where all of us current drivers have driven the most laps! It’s always served as a good test track as there are long straights, and a variety of corner combinations both high and low speed. 

“There are many challenges to tackle in Barcelona so we will see how we go. We are keeping our heads down and working hard behind the scenes. It’s the start of an intense triple header. We have scored at the last two races so we must strive to continue this momentum now. 

“I’m looking forward to it! Away from the track, I will be keeping an eye on the Euros. This week after Practice, it’s a big one France versus The Netherlands. Hopefully I can catch some of it with Max [Verstappen] and enjoy a big French win!”

Esteban Ocon — BWT Alpine F1 Team — Driver

“Spain marks the start of a busy few weeks for the team, with the first triple-header of the season. The Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya is familiar territory and a track we know inside out. It is a circuit that is regularly used for testing purposes, so I have probably driven this track more than any other. 

“The combination of fast, medium, and low-speed corners makes it the ultimate testing ground, particularly with aerodynamic efficiency. So, it will be interesting to see where we stack up this weekend.”

Alex Albon — Williams Racing — Driver

“As we kick off the start of the triple header in Barcelona, it’s always a familiar feeling driving this circuit as we’ve all done a million laps around it from a very young age, always being an enjoyable track to drive with its mix of high- and low-speed corners. 

“Obviously, our result last weekend wasn’t what we hoped for, so we’ll be looking to come back strong and see what opportunities arise for us as a team. The weather is looking pretty consistent, so let’s see how the FW46 performs with its more versatile characteristics.”

Logan Sargeant — Williams Racing — Driver

“Heading back into the European leg of the season, I’m looking forward to racing at a track we all know well in Barcelona. It’s an exciting circuit to drive, although tends to be harsh on the tyres, so it will be interesting to see how the race unfolds. I’m hoping for a positive weekend in Spain.”

Valtteri Bottas — Stake F1 Team Kick Sauber — Driver

“It’s good to be back in Barcelona, a place that we know like the back of our hands. This is a place that always suited me and feel I can be at my best here. It’s a circuit that has no secrets for the teams: we have reams of data about it, in every condition and with every variable accounted for so, once again, it will be the finest details that will make the difference, especially on Saturday.

“Although we haven’t been as strong in the last few races as we should be, we are confident in our abilities. The team has put in tremendous amounts of effort to understand our issues and improve our performance. 

“It’s a tight field, but with improved qualifying, we know we can be back in the fight for points again.”

Zhou Guanyu — Stake F1 Team Kick Sauber — Driver

“I’m excited to be back racing again, and I am determined to get back into the fight for points. Unfortunately, the last few races didn’t go well for me and the team, but we are determined to bounce back. 

“We’ve used our little break wisely to identify issues and work hard to be competitive again. I have some good memories of Barcelona – last year’s race was a lot of fun and I brought home some points, too. It’s a track we know well and that should mean there will be no surprises – it’ll be all about ultimate performance. 

“It’ll be crucial for us to start strong: nailing our setup early into the free practice sessions with lots of running to put us in a good position for qualifying and ultimately the race.”

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