AHEAD OF THE SPANISH GRAND PRIX
Daniel, the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya is Formula One’s home away from home – what’s it like racing at the track you know so well?
Ah, well, I think most F1 drivers would say we’ve all done too many laps around here, but don’t get me wrong, it’s a great circuit.
Let’s concentrate on the ‘great circuit’ bit – what’s so good about it?
It’s fun to drive. The first two sectors have a really good flow to them, which is pretty cool. The last sector is a bit more about tyre management on the modern layout but the rest is exhilarating.
Apart from the temperature, how different is the circuit on grand prix weekend compared to testing?
Night and Day! We have a great atmosphere for the race. The circuit cuts into the hillside so there’s lots of good viewing areas and, so long as Alonso’s on track, it’s pretty crazy. That’s great for all of us, not just Fernando. It’s going to be good with three Spanish drivers in this year’s race. There’ll be a real buzz.
The race itself. I think it’s one where DRS is a big plus point. In the past, because everyone knew the track and their setup so well, races tended to be a bit stale. I think the DRS means that you don’t get dull races any more. You can still defend though – it’s a good track for that – but in a way that’s going to make the race exciting for spectators.
And how about the location? What’s the highlight of the race weekend in Catalonia?
Barcelona’s really, really cool: lots of atmosphere, really good vibe. I’m also not entirely unaware of the fact it has some pretty good beaches and, as everyone is probably tired of hearing, I’m always happiest when we’ve got sand and water nearby. It’s also a great city for food. Obviously I eat carefully but I’m not one of those drivers who completely ignores the local cuisine. The restaurants in Barcelona are definitely a highlight and I’m a big fan of eating out here.
The Circuit de Catalunya is a venue that holds few secrets for drivers, but after all the testing miles you put in there, does the track still hold any appeal?
Obviously the teams and drivers know the track very well simply through testing. We’re there in pre-season and all the drivers do a lot of miles there. However, just because we do a lot of testing there it doesn’t mean the track is any less challenging for a driver. There’s a reason it’s used so much and that’s because it’s got a great variety of corners and a lot of different challenges. For a driver it’s a tough track, quite technical but if you get everything right then it’s really enjoyable.
The track is a little way outside of Barcelona, so do you get a chance to explore or is it a case of circuit hotel, track and airport?
I know Barcelona well and really like being in Spain. I lived there for three months when I was racing in Formula Renault 2.0 as my team at the time was based there. Because I speak Italian it was easy for me to pick up some Spanish and that makes the experience of being there a bit better. I have a lot of friends there and try to hang out a bit when I’m there.