FORMULA 1 GRAN PREMIO DE ESPAÑA PIRELLI 2016
Getting points in Russia was a good fillip for the team after the tough race in China. We were reliable and competitive enough to out-race our closest competition and that took a lot of hard work. That said, we acknowledge it took a cocktail of circumstances and repeating the result in Spain would be tough. However, Barcelona is the start of our development program and we will see some new developments coming through in the race, with several others scheduled for the test afterwards. We look at this race as a marker in the sand: the exit point of our recovery from the takeover and the first race as ‘our’ team. It will start small, but I’m confident we will gain momentum as we go forward.
Q&A with Fred Vasseur
EYES ON THE PRIZE
Racing Director of Renault Sport Racing, Fred Vasseur talks points, performance and drivers.
What’s the outlook heading to Barcelona?
It’s no secret, we still have plenty of work to do. That will be the story all year. Russia was a good weekend for us as we saw the whole team deliver and our first points of the year were a result. That was great for everyone and a good reward for all the effort being put in. Equally it doesn’t change the work we have to do: make the car faster, and ensure we make no mistakes in any aspect of our work.
In Russia the car didn’t suddenly gain a lot of performance, rather the team and Kevin in particular were able to extract the maximum and external circumstances also fell our way. Not every race will fall for us in this way, but we always want to deliver the maximum possible as well as improving the maximum potential itself.
We’ve heard some noise about driver line-ups and we’ve seen early driver moves elsewhere;
what’s the situation with the Renault Sport Formula One Team driver line-up?
We have a strong line-up and one we’re happy with and committed to. Kevin has performed very well in his return to Formula 1 and Jolyon is approaching his rookie season in a clear and methodical manner. It’s true that Jolyon had a couple of races where he didn’t deliver as he wanted, equally this is natural in a driver’s first season; he’s learning and making strong progress.
As well as our race drivers we have a very strong line-up behind them. We saw Sergey Sirotkin do a very good job in FP1 in Russia and we will see Esteban Ocon take to the wheel in Barcelona. Just this week we had Nicholas Latifi complete a vital part of his programme by driving a 2012 Formula 1 car, the E20, at Silverstone. Beyond that, we have the Renault Sport Academy, most of whom will be in action in the support categories in Spain.
What’s the driver plan for the Grand Prix and then the test afterwards?
Esteban will drive Jolyon’s car for FP1, then Kevin and Esteban will drive in the test.
Q&A with Jolyon Palmer
A floor swap in Sochi allowed Jolyon Palmer to rekindle his love for his R.S.16 and he’s aiming to make hay whilst the sun shines in Barcelona.
Were you happy with the progress made in Russia?
If I’d been asked that question at the end of Friday in Sochi, I’d have said no as that day certainly wasn’t going my way. However, the team changed the floor of my car on Friday night and for Saturday onwards the balance felt normal and consistent again, which was a positive for the rest of the weekend and hopefully looking forward too.
What’s the plan for the Spanish Grand Prix?
A strong, solid weekend would be nice. We’ve made progress with the car and I’m happy with the balance and how it drives again. Kevin scored points for the team in Russia so we know what’s possible. It’s the first race in Europe and at a track we all know really well. I’m pretty pumped-up for a strong weekend.
What do you think of the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya?
I’ve been there many times and it’s a track that most Formula 1 drivers know extremely well, even just from the pre-season testing we’ve already done there this year. From a driving point of view we know exactly what to expect, however it’s traditionally the first circuit where you see a lot of updates brought so you can see some differences in relative competitiveness depending on who’s got updates, and how well those updates work.
Lost of fast corners = a physical circuit for the driver?
It’s certainly one of the more physical circuits as there are a lot of long, fast corners, lots of high lateral Gs that put your neck and your core under strain. For the long corners the aero is really important, and with the DRS on the straight and the tyre degradation we see there, there’s potential for a good race.
Do you like the long fast corners?
I prefer quick stuff – a long quick one or a short quick one I really don’t mind, as long as you really hang it out and commit hard to it. The Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya has a couple that really take my fancy: turn three’s a really long, fast corner, and then turn nine as well is a really good one; it’s quick and it’s blind to the exit so you really have to commit.
Any good racing memories from Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya?
I had a double podium in 2014 with two second places in the GP2 Series with some good overtakes in two fun races there. It’s not been a circuit that’s been especially kind to me, but it’s a good challenge and one I enjoy.
What do you think of the city?
Barcelona’s a cool city. The weather’s nice, the atmosphere’s always good and it’s just a very happening place with great culture. There’s also strong enthusiasm for Formula 1.
INSIDER INFO FROM KEVIN MAGNUSSEN
If there’s a circuit that an F1 dri ver knows well, it’s the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. Located to the north of Montmeló, just south o f Granollers, 30km away from the Catalan capital of Barcelona, the 1991-built track has held 25 Spanish Grands Prix and c ountless test days over the years.
What’s Kev been doing?
After Russia I was training and recharging my batteries. The weather’s getting better so I’m doing some training outside, the sun is coming out and that’s a good thing. A nice change after training inside for the entire winter! I had a seat fit for the E20 on Thursday that I’m due to drive when you read this. Then on Monday before Barcelona I’m due back in the simulator.
It’s a good circuit and we’ve driven it so many times that everyone knows it very well, so it’s not so exciting from that perspective as there aren’t often any surprises.
It can offer some really good racing, then some years you have quite a dull race. I can remember when Williams took their last win: that was a really exciting race. You can see surprises here.
The reason Barcelona is a test track is because it has almost every type of corner. It has chicanes, it has fast corners, it has slow corners, it has big braking zones, it has corners when you prioritise speed on entry and it has corners where you focus on the exit: it has everything. It’s a perfect test track, but in anything it does have more high speed than low speed corners so you need a nicely balanced car and tyre wear can get a little bit tricky: you can’t really run the softest tyres there.
I won my World Series by Renault Championship there, which is always a good memory.
We always find ourselves in Spain with Formula 1, we do pre-season testing there a lot, whether it’s Jerez or Barcelona; it’s a country with a lot of good racing circuits. We always get great support from the fans.
Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya
Fresh from his Russian points-scoring finish, Kevin Magnussen gives his insight in to the twists, turns and secrets of the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.
T1 + 2
The first corner is a double corner where you turn right then immediately left – it’s almost like a big chicane. There’s hard braking for it as it’s after the long startfinish straight. It’s also downhill so it’s easy to carry a lot of speed there, meaning a big braking zone.
This is nearly flat on the soft tyre. It’s the fastest corner on the track.
Uphill towards turn nine which is the second fastest corner after turn three on the circuit. It’s a good corner; you really turn in aggressively and get back on the power quickly. There’s not a lot of run-off, and it’s gravel if you go off. It’s quite an exciting corner you don’t want to get wrong.
T12 – 13
A short straight where you go flat then you brake into the last section of the track, turn thirteen, which is one gear down and then on the power again then immediately on the brakes for turn fourteen – left – and fifteen – right. This last chicane is very slow so it’s important to really nail the apexes there.
The last corner of the circuit is flat-out on to the start-finish straight.
HARD : Hard on the outside, soft on the inside. Not an armadillo, but croquetas.
MEDIUM : The patatas bravas of the tyre world. A solid, filling dish that is still a little spicy.
SOFT : Pimentos de padron : wildly hot at first, then cools off when you’ve had a few.
Q&A with Nick Chester
NEW FLOORS, NEW CHASSIS, NEW PARTS
Renault Sport Formula One Team Chassis Technical Director Nick Chester talks Russia, new bits and predicts what could be in store for Barcelona.
Was there a revolution in the team’s performance in Russia?
In China there were a lot of factors that worked against us and in contrast, in Russia there were a lot of factors that were beneficial to us. It illustrated the importance of having a completely straightforward weekend with no issues to deal with – whether in the practice sessions or in the race. Getting all the data from practice is important: we did that in Russia so our engineers were better placed to make the best set-up calls. On top of that we were able to show decent race pace and capitalise on the events around us in the race and get a strong result. Kevin drove a brilliant race with other cars breathing down his neck; he did everything he could and seventh was the result. On the other side of the garage, Jolyon was much happier with his car so we’re in a good place heading to Spain.
What elements would you add to the post-race debrief?
The Sochi Autodrom is unusual in the respect that it’s tricky for tyres. Getting the tyres into the correct temperature operating window is a particular challenge and we saw all teams paying particular attention to this over the weekend. In qualifying there are some approaches used like a fast-slow-fast sequence of laps to try to get both front and rear tyres in the correct working window. We made good progress in this regard. Then for the race it was a real positive to see a Melbourne-level of race pace return.
Jolyon seems to have made good progress with getting his car back to where it should be?
Jolyon was much happier in his car on Saturday in Sochi and this translated to a stronger performance over the weekend. As part of our assessments to get his car to work better for him we changed the floor, which is a very important aerodynamic aspect of the car. This looks to have delivered what we wanted so a positive step was made. For Spain Jolyon will run with a new chassis – R.S.16-03 which we used at our filming day this week to shake down.
What else do we have new for Barcelona?
For the race we have an updated rear wing as well as some updates for the front wing. For the test we have a full raft of things to try; new suspension, further aero updates over various areas of the car, some mods to cooling as well as evaluating the B-spec power unit, so we should have a full two days.
Is Barcelona likely to be cruel or kind to the team?
We fared decently in relative terms at pre-season testing there and when you look at the qualities required for a handy car around the circuit there are no initial fears from our side. That’s not to say we wouldn’t welcome some more downforce, but there’s potential as we currently stand.
What we’ve been up to…
Esteban Ocon has been a busy boy between Russia and Spain. He makes his DTM debut this weekend, taking to the wheel of a Mercedes at Hockenheim.
Taking full advantage of the glorious spring time weather we conducted a filming day at Silverstone with the RS16 and last year’s car plus a range of Renault Sport cars. We planned for the sun, you see.
A bumper week for Renault Sport. Esteban Ocon will be making his first FP1 excursion in Spain. Esteban will replace Jolyon Palmer on Friday.
Three of the Renault Sport Academy drivers will be in Barcelona alongside us. Oliver Rowland will compete in GP2 while Kevin Jorg and Jack Aitken will be out in GP3 for the first races of the season
Fernando Alonso scored a massively popular victory in 2006. The Spaniard took the chequered flag from pole position for his first home victory.
‘This has been a day of so many emotions for me, and I think I will remember every moment,’ he said after the race.