Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona is the venue for the 2012 Spanish Grand Prix Formula 1 on 11-13 May 2012. Soft & hard tyre compounds have been allocated for this race. The circuit is a all-rounder circuit with a variety of corners and long straights and teams have all agreed that the conditions in this circuit will be similar to what can be expected at forthcoming events. Teams have tested on this circuit for so many times that they are extremely familiar with it. So, tyre strategy will have a more important role here than on other circuits. On the new 2012 Pirelli tyres with heavier degradation than before, a more exciting and challenging race can be expected in Spain.
At the first four races in this season, all teams have suffered from the common issue which is the heavy tyre degradation and because of that, the winners of all the four races come from different teams respectively. Performance from the teams has been inconsistent since the understanding of the tyres is still insufficient. However, the teams have learnt and improved much on their cars during the in-season testing at Mugello so we can expect a more consistent performance from all the teams.
The circuit is known to have less amount of overtakes despite the long straights. Hamilton believes overtaking will be a big challenge here this year. His gear ratio choice last year failed to allow him enough speed to overtake Vettel in the DRS zone and had placed him second on the podium. The conditions of the circuit is also known to change with the wind and temperature. The effect of the changing wind directions is significant due to the importance of aerodynamics in F1 cars. It is quite difficult for the teams to find a good balance for the car’s set-up. The changeable conditions of the circuit can make the race more interesting with unexpected conditions.
Mercedes’s driver Schumacher has warned against high expectations for his team, “Barcelona is a track we have driven extensively on, and this is why we know that its characteristics do not exactly play fully into our hands.” Team-mate Rosberg is more positive on the next race in Spain because of better understanding of the tyres and how to set up the cars. Lotus’s driver Raikkonen expects Lotus to be very competitive and to be very close between the top teams. Red Bull also agreed that the race will be very tight and tricky due to changing conditions and upgrades from all the teams.
Vettel has won the race in Spain last year and also the previous race in Bahrain this year. Can he manage to win again in Spain as the race is full of uncertainties in track and tyre conditions and fiercer competition due to upgraded performance from other teams?
For more information on the issues of the new Pirelli’s tyres, you can read our previous post here.