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DATE News (chronologically)
05/02/09
f1
Williams hope upgraded car will make a difference
Despite showing their potential in the Friday practice sessions, where Nico Rosberg frequently was the fastest man on track, the German and his team mate Kazuki Nakajima only scored 3.5 points for the Williams F1 Team. The Grove-based outfit hope for a fruitful weekend in Spain next week.

The Circuit in a nutshell

Familiarity breeds consent…Teams and drivers conduct much of their winter testing in Barcelona and baseline set-ups are established long before cars take to the track on the Friday morning of a Grand Prix weekend. Normally, only detail alterations are required to tailor chassis to suit prevailing weather conditions, wind direction and the like. It is invariably a straightforward two-stop race that throws up fewer surprises than most.

Talking technical

Car dynamics:
Average turn angle indicates the average angle of a circuit’s corners expressed in degrees. The higher the average turn angle, the more acute the corners in the circuit’s configuration and the greater propensity for understeer to compromise lap time. At Barcelona, the average turn angle is 113.170, against a season average of 1100, ranking it as the circuit with the 8th highest average turn angle across the Championship.

The end of straight (EOS) speed at Barcelona was 308kp/h in 2008. Barcelona ranks as having the 6th fastest EOS speed on the 2009 calendar, and this is one indicator of the wing level typically selected to optimize the downforce/drag ratio. Meanwhile, Barcelona has the 12th fastest average lap speed of any of the tracks on the calendar. Since the introduction of the chicane in 2007, corner speed has decreased shifting the emphasis away from high speed corner performance.

Pitlane & refueling strategy:
The pitlane length and profile (i.e. corners in the pitlane entry) contribute to the determination of the optimum fuel strategy. The pitlane loss at Barcelona is approximately 22 seconds, the 6th most penalizing pitlane in the Championship. To complete a normalized distance of 5km around the Barcelona circuit requires 2.44kg of fuel against an average of 2.42kg per 5km across all circuits this season, making the circuit the 8th most demanding track of the year in terms of fuel consumption.

Safety car:
Another key contributor to the determination of race strategy is the likelihood of safety car deployments, which are influenced by weather considerations, the availability of clear run-off areas that allow racing to continue while recovery takes place and the circuit profile, especially the character of the entry and exit into turn one at the start of the race. Since the race debuted on the calendar in 1991, there have been 4 safety car deployments in Barcelona, making it statistically unlikely that the circuit’s character will induce safety car periods. The first four races of this season have already seen 5 safety car periods, however, so anything is possible.

Temperature, pressure & humidityAs an example, it is a long observed tradition that drivers arriving at Interlagos complain about a lack of grip and an absence of engine power. Having become acquainted with a baseline of engine and aerodynamic performance during the season, the climb to 750 meters above sea level for one of the final races can, courtesy of the reduction in air density, rob a Formula One car of engine power, aerodynamic performance and cooling. The losses can come close to double digit percentages and thus have a very real impact on car performance. Air density is a factor of the prevailing ambient temperature, which varies most significantly by season, air pressure which is closely linked to altitude and, to a much smaller degree, by humidity. Thus if races are run at the same time each year, the factor that tends to have the greatest bearing on air density is elevation. Like half the races on the calendar, Barcelona is close to sea level, just 140m above, and has an average pressure (1,002 mbar). The first four races have been just 10m above sea level, so engines will have slightly less power at Barcelona.

What the drivers say

Thoughts after the season-opening flyaways:
Nico Rosberg: “It’s been a bit of a frustrating start to the season. We should be going into Europe with more than 3.5 points from the first four races. We were looking competitive at the outset in Australia, but things just haven’t gone our way. It’s also so close out there, probably the closest season I’ve raced in. We’ll have some aero upgrades for Barcelona which I’m hoping will help us and push us further up the grid. It would be good to score some points to reward the team at Grove who have been pushing really hard.”

Kazuki Nakajima “It’s been a tough start to the season for me. I’ve had three DNFs out of four races and I don’t want anymore. I’m going to put them behind me now though and concentrate on the work ahead. There’s still 12 more races to go and I’m determined to get some good results for myself and for the team.”

On returning home after a six week trip:
Kazuki “It’s nice to be home after so long away. I’m spending the ten days in Oxford and will catch up with friends over some football and, hopefully, a softball game at the weekend. There will also be a few visits to the factory to talk to my engineers about Barcelona and to use the simulator to prepare myself as much as I can for the track. No doubt my trainer will also be putting me through my paces as well!”

Nico “It’s been a long trip so I’ll be resting a bit between the usual training I do before races. I also have lots of personal things to do as I haven’t been home for six weeks and that will definitely include catching up with friends and family.”

On the Circuit de Catalunya:
Kazuki “I really like Barcelona and have lots of racing experience there. Last year, I had a good qualifying session and scored two points for the team coming 7th in my debut race. As I haven’t had a great first few Grands Prix, I hope that this will mark the start of a new phase for me and I can do something good in Barcelona.”

Nico “As we spend quite a lot of time testing at Barcelona, it’s a circuit we all know well. Last year was going really well for me and I was looking good for 6th place, but then a technical problem put me out of the race. The only concern with Barcelona is that track conditions are constantly changing, so knowing what direction to go with the set-up can prove hard.”

On the development battle:
Kazuki “I didn’t have the new parts on my car in Bahrain so I’m looking forward to trying those out in Spain and to see how the other new bits go. I’m sure that the upgraded package will be a step forward, we already know how much time it will give us, but it’s all relative compared to what the other teams have done.”

Nico “With the new rule changes, this year really is all about who makes the greatest progress back at the factories with development. As with all the other teams, we’ll have an upgraded car in Spain and I hope it will make the difference we need.”

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