The European F1 season starts this weekend in Barcelona. Many teams plan to bring updated and upgraded cars to this Grand Prix and as a result we may (or may not) see some shake up in the order. Here is very quick overview of who plans to bring what to Spain:
Ferrari – The Ferrari F60 will feature a new aero package that was always scheduled to debut at the Spanish Grand Prix – new bodywork, with modifications to front and rear wings among other elements. In addition to the scheduled updates there are also some extra changes, originally scheduled for the Turkish and British events – especially the new diffuser.
McLaren – The team has been upgrading their car bit by bit reducing the gap to the leaders. In Barcelona they are expected to run with new version of their rear diffuser.
BMW Sauber – A substantial upgrade is expected from the BMW Sauber team but they will not use the double diffuser yet. Moreover they plan to run both cars without KERS in Spain.
Renault – The R29 will feature a new rear wing and new wheel fairings this weekend with quite a major design change to give them an increase in downforce. They will also bring new version of their super diffuser and floor.
Toyota – I haven’t seen anywhere any specifics on the updates Toyota plans to introduce in Barcelona other than that there will be aero upgrades …
Red Bull / Toro Rosso – Red Bull is likely to bring the double diffuser to Turkey but some aero upgrades for both Toro Rosso and Red Bull are expected in Spain.
Williams – Williams, one of the three original super diffuser teams, will bring new parts to Spain although no specifics are available.
Force India – Force India introduced new diffuser and floor in Bahrain already. Further updates are expected for Barcelona. The team however does not plan to race with KERS this weekend although it was their provisional plan.
Brawn GP – We should see the first major upgrade to Brawn GP car since the start of the season. The team expects gain of 2-3 tenths. They definitely need that as their early season dominance was no longer the case in Bahrain.
The Grand Prix circuit near Barcelona is one that every F1 team knows well from the hundreds of kilometres of testing. It offers variety of medium and high-speed corners and it is widely acknowledged as the definitive aero circuit. Aerodynamic efficiency is always a key factor at Barcelona, although the introduction of the chicane at the end of the lap in recent years has replaced on of the most critical high-speed parts of the lap. The circuit still remains the ultimate aero package test and teams will run with high downforce levels. Few big braking zones and so many high-speed corners result in extremely difficult overtaking.
The engine is not under particular stress at any point and only 61% of the lap is spent on full throttle.
Barcelona is well known for being demanding on tyre wear because it includes many long, high-speed corners and has a fairly abrasive track surface. The tyres are under high loadings, particularly the front left which has to work hard through turn 3 as well as turn 9. Bridgestone will supply the hard and soft compounds.
The 2008 Spanish GP was won by Kimi Raikkonen (his last F1 win so far) ahead of his team mate Felipe Massa and Lewis Hamilton. 2008 Spanish GP was also the last F1 race for Super Aguri.
Photo: Shell Motorsports
Track Diagram: Bridgestone Motorsports