View Full Version : Spain preview - who will take the biggest step forward?

8th May 2014, 12:50
This weekend's Formula 1 Gran Premio de Espana Pirelli 2014 signals the start of the European leg of the FIA Formula One World Championship, and it will be a crucial round for all of the teams.
Traditionally this is the race where everyone brings the upgrades they have been working on ever since they launched their cars at the start of the season. It's where the frontrunners seek to move further ahead; where those giving chase plan to close the gap; and where a truer picture of the pecking order emerges.
Mercedes have enjoyed an advantage of around six-tenths of a second per lap over their principal rivals Ferrari and Red Bull in terms of raw speed, though their race pace has been even better. And they are determined to pull further ahead here.
"It's often said that a car which performs well in Barcelona will be a great car for the season, so we're looking forward to seeing where we stand relative to the competition," says Paddy Lowe, executive director (technical). "There has been no sense of complacency or backing off just because our car has shown strong performance in the opening few races. The objective is to not only match, but to better the development rate of our rivals and to build on our lead in both championships."
Lewis Hamilton had not won in either Malaysia or Bahrain prior to 2014, and he hasn't yet won in Barcelona either. He plans to put that right this weekend.
"It's been good to have a bit of a break between races," the 2008 champion says. "But after three great weekends in Malaysia, Bahrain and China I'm obviously keen to get on to the next one and continue that positive momentum into the next leg of the season.
"I've never won in Barcelona but I'm in a good place right now and I'm hoping that this will be the year."
Nico Rosberg, meanwhile, is keen to turn the Hamilton tide, after losing three times to his team mate following his own victory in Melbourne's season-opener.
"It's only now that we can slowly begin to get an idea of how the different cars stack up in terms of performance," the German says.
Meanwhile, Ferrari hope to keep building on the momentum they got going in China, where Fernando Alonso scored their first 2014 podium after the disappointment that was Bahrain. The Spaniard remains cautious ahead of his home race, however.
"The car was under-performing in many areas - it was not just one problem," he said after finishing third in Shanghai. "We need to be more efficient, have better aerodynamics, better traction, better power. We lacked some big performance in the first races. In China it was nothing really big in one area, just small steps here, small steps there - better power delivery, better software, putting everything in place, all the settings, and giving a little bit more aero efficiency and a little bit more power.
"But the other teams will bring a couple of tenths to Barcelona, so we need to bring a couple of tenths, plus something. That's the challenge we are facing now. It's not that we need to develop the car at a normal rate; we need to do the normal development, plus something."
Red Bull arrive with great optimism as power unit supplier Renault expect a big upturn in performance thanks to changes to their turbo V6. In particular, boss Christian Horner wants to see significantly improved straightline speed. He is targeting victory to kickstart the team's title aspirations.
"We've got to beat Mercedes here if we're going to make a championship of it," he admits. "We've got to take the fight to them. We're going to give it everything. I believe we can take the fight to them, we just can't concede too much more ground.
"We were 22 km/h slower on the one-kilometre straight in Shanghai - that represented almost 100 metres that we were giving away just on the straight. That's where we've got to improve, it's quite simple. We know where we've got to fix our issues and hopefully there are some steps towards that in Barcelona."
At Renault, head of track operations Remi Taffin explains why Red Bull, Lotus, Toro Rosso, and Caterham are hopeful of performance improvement: "While there are not many visible hardware upgrades, there are significant improvements to the software that should further enhance driveability and therefore overall performance. Yet again we have also moved forward in energy management and efficiency so we are hopeful our upward trend will continue in Barcelona."

World champion Sebastian Vettel will also be handed a new chassis for this event, though Red Bull stress it is a routine introduction rather than a reaction to the German

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