Formula One returns to Europe with the Spanish GP. A nice side aspect of that is that we are back in the Energy Station, which provides a lot of space for us and the team Ė it will become a little bit like home over the next few weeks! The Circuit de Catalunya is varied with 180 degree bends, fast, sweeping corners and elevation changes. There isnít much opportunity to overtake, so getting a good start position in qualifying will be crucial. The long, fast curves of Montmelo mean that it will suit a car with highly efficient aerodynamics. The track is very challenging on the tyres because of the same very fast corners, so lots of pit stops are likely in the race.
Iíve always enjoyed the Circuit de Catalunya and think itís a great track. Itís a Ďbit of everythingí circuit Ė which is why itís proved so popular as a testing venue. The first sector is really nice, with the corners all flowing together and the second sector, while a bit more technical, is also really interesting. The final sector is less good but you can understand why they changed it; I assume the old layout was more exciting. Itís a good track to defend on, but one that demands a lot of concentration and the right set-up. The trade-off is that you need fairly low downforce on the long main straight but that compromises the rest of your lap and makes the car difficult to control. Finding the right balance isnít simple.
View from the crew:
Gerrard O'Reilly, Race Team Co-ordinator
Gerrard, coming off the back of the first four fly away races, is Europe easier for you, logistically?
I wouldnít say itís easier, itís different. The factory is a lot closer; we can get parts for the car there within around 15-20 hours, whereas on the long haul events itís obviously more complicated. For the race in Barcelona, there are a lot more flights going there each day than to Shanghai, or you could get in a car and drive it in 20 hours, so there are more options available Ė but that can also make it more challenging!
Do you arrive later to the European events to set up?
Not really. Weíll tend to start on a Monday afternoon or Tuesday morning, whereas on the long haul events weíll start on a Monday morning.
Do more people attend the European events?
No, obviously the guys that drive the trucks donít come to the long haul events with us and the Energy Station set up involves some more people that donít go on the long haul events, but physically the team is the same.
How many trucks do you take to the events and what goes in each of them?
We have four trucks, of those there is one that takes the garage equipment, one has the cars and the rest is equipment. Itís all designed for ease of use - to roll into the air freight, and then we roll out of those containers and can put it straight into the trucks. We used to have dedicated trucks where youíd take the drawers out etc. But now because we do so many fly away events it makes it easier to do it this way and just be able to roll stuff in and out. Then we have one truck for the engine that comes from Paris.
And how much freight is that, do you reckon?
I suppose in the region of 40 or 50 tonnes.
Do you have to be careful how the freight is packed, to be sure it all fits in?
Yes, we have a little bit of flexibility, but we have that amount of stuff that it needs to be packed properly, in a certain order, otherwise it wonít all go on.
Which European race is the most complex race to plan for?
Thereís only one, Monaco! Space and the lack of it is the biggest issue, but itís interesting because you have to think a bit out of the box, so each year we try and improve the way we lay the garage out, the working areas etc. If youíve ever been to Monaco when the race isnít on and you go to it when the race is, you wonder how on earth they get everything in there, I mean itís a major achievement.
Anything important ever been forgotten or lost?!
Itís never lost, itís just misplaced!