Daniel Ricciardo had mixed results at Silverstone, but his impressive pace in qualifying at the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix gives the Australian a good feeling heading to Barcelona where he has scored two podiums in the past.
What are your thoughts on the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya?
Daniel Ricciardo: It's probably the most familiar circuit for all of us with all the pre-season and in-season testing we do there. I think it's going to be interesting going there now, this late in the year, when it's going to be a lot warmer than in February or even May when we usually race. We had a decent winter test there earlier in the year, but the car has changed a bit since then, so I'm looking forward to trying that out. It's not usually the most exciting of races for overtakes as it's a high-speed circuit and quite hard to follow the car in front. I think if we can qualify well, there's no reason we can't have a strong result.
What do you take away from the Silverstone double-header?
DR: To take 24 points as a team from the two races is certainly very good; not only from a performance perspective but also for the Constructors' Championship. We definitely missed out a bit on Sunday, though, after a decent qualifying. For some reason, we just couldn't make the two-stop work, especially on the Medium tyre on the second stint. We'll investigate what we can do to improve that next time, so it was a bit disappointing not to score any points. But we've definitely found an improvement in performance and that's really pleasing. We'll aim to put it all together this weekend in Barcelona, and it's exciting to have a change of scenery!
Esteban has good reason to be in a joyous mood following a strong race at Silverstone last weekend that saw the Frenchman climb six places from his grid position. The Circuit de Catalunya is another one of his favourite tracks, and he'll be looking to replicate his past form here where he scored his best result in Formula 1 with P5 back in 2017.
What do you like about racing in Barcelona?
Esteban Ocon: Barcelona is a bit like the home for Formula 1 - in a way - with all the testing we do there in the winter. It's a track where I had my best result in Formula 1: fifth place in 2017. I've always had success there and had really good feelings going there as it's one of my favourite tracks. I'm looking forward to it and aiming for a solid result.
What are the main challenges of a lap there?
EO: In general, it's a big challenge for the cars and the drivers. Sector 1 and 2 are fast and tricky with the tyres generating a lot of heat through the quick corners like Turns 3 and 9. You arrive into the final sector just trying to get the car home as the rears tend to get hot and you lose a bit of grip. It's a technical challenge, but it's one I enjoy. Looking at how we performed in Silverstone, the car should be strong there too, especially in the low-speed Sector 3. Everyone is working hard during these three consecutive races, so we must keep the motivation for this one as well and target some good points.
How do you assess the second Silverstone race?
EO: I was really happy after the race on Sunday. We did the best we could to climb six places and into the points. The team did a great job on the strategy call and then executing it with a lot of communicating with when I had to push or hold back. It worked well, the pit-stop was awesome and then it was about keeping focused to manage the tyres and make sure we reached the chequered flag. We know we have to qualify higher up the order. We'll keep working on that area and hopefully it will pay off over the next couple of races.
The 70th Anniversary Grand Prix at Silverstone provided the team with another set of points in what is proving to be a very tight battle in the Constructors' Championship in 2020. We now head to a track synonymous for pre-season winter testing, but with much hotter conditions expected over the weekend. Chief Race Engineer Ciaron Pilbeam looks ahead to this weekend's race in Barcelona.
What are the main challenges of Barcelona?
Ciaron Pilbeam: Barcelona is very much split into two sections. The first two sectors are mostly high-speed corners and then the end of the lap is generally much slower and very tough on the rear tyres as there are so many corners close together. One thing that is different for this race is the time of year. Normally we test in Barcelona in the winter in February and then race in May when it's warmer. We're now racing in August and it could be very hot. There might be less grip when it gets hot, but it won't change the fundamentals of the track.
We've done thousands of laps there over the years. Drivers and engineers alike know the circuit inside out. It was resurfaced a couple of years ago so it's a lot smoother than it used to be. We're not expecting any big surprises, just the usual tuning of set-up and learning the tyres.
How do you evaluate last weekend's race?
CP: It was bittersweet. Esteban was happy with his car in the race, certainly much happier than he was in qualifying. His pace was good and that allowed him to do the one-stop, which worked well for him. Daniel started the race very well, was in a good position, but his rear tyres blistered in his second stint and we need to understand why it happened. It put him in a difficult position in the race and that, ultimately, was the reason he didn't have a better result.
Barcelona, in a way, is similar to Silverstone with some high-speed corners, but it does have that slow final sector. They key difference is returning to a higher downforce level, similar to the first few races. Tyre behaviour might be a little bit different and we have the C1, C2 and C3 compounds, which are the hardest three. They should be straightforward; the Soft will be the qualifying tyre and it's likely to be back to a conventional one-stop race.