Circuit de Catalunya: A lap with Alex Wurz
Enjoy a spin around the Circuit de Catalunya, venue for next weekend's Spanish Grand Prix, with a less-than-impressed Alex Wurz.
Over the years, the Circuit de Catalunya has lost some of its edge because it is no longer the high speed challenge that it once was. All of the fast corners have gone, except turn three, which still has big G-force - very fast and very demanding.
Of course, the track still remains an interesting place to drive. The key to a quick lap is to find a good rhythm and to make sure that your car works well in slow-speed corners, which is most of sector three.
In days gone by, Barcelona required a high-speed car set-up, whereas now it needs a slow-speed set up, and I think that's disappointing.
You approach turn one at about 193mph. You stamp on the brakes and shift down to second gear for turn one, before taking turn two in third gear. Next comes one of the best corners on the lap, turn three, before you're again braking hard for the hairpin at turn four. Another hairpin follows, where it's easy to lock up a wheel on the downhill approach, and you then have two very interesting corners.
Turn six is medium-speed and requires you to use a lot of curb on the exit, and turn seven is a right-hander taken at about 133mph. It's important to carry a lot of speed through turn seven because it leads you on to the back straight, where you're back up to 186mph. The last part of the lap is slow and it includes the new chicane before the final corner. Again, it's very important to have a good exit because you carry that speed all the way down the pit straight.
The track was resurfaced a couple of years ago, so the infamous abrasive asphalt is gone. As a result, the race strategies are more or less the same as at other races because tire degradation is quite flat.
I advise anyone visiting the race to check out Barcelona because it's a cool city. I love it. The Catalan people are very open and friendly, and Barcelona has a great culture for art and food. If you have kids, take them to the Natural Museum - they'll love it.