Sauber drivers say tyres are the key

Tyre performance will be critical to the outcome of this weekend's Spanish Grand Prix according to Sauber drivers Heinz-Harald Frentzen and Nick Heidfeld

Sauber drivers say tyres are the key

This may come as a surprise as the Formula 1 teams conduct the majority of their testing there and thus ought to have found a good base chassis set-up before the start of the meeting. However, the Spanish venue with its medium and high-speed corners is abrasive and this causes the team engineers no end of problems in optimising their cars.

"This is a track that I know well and like," says Frentzen. "The nature of the track surface means that you have to set the car up carefully and to look after your tyres, and there are some ripples in places that create interesting factors to take into account. Despite the long start/finish straight and the relatively tight first corner, braking isn't a factor you have to be concerned about unlike, say Imola. Like I said, looking after your tyres is one of the most important things."

Heidfeld has similar affection for the place, and similar concerns: "I like the Circuit de Catalunya and the fact that set-up work assumes even greater importance because so many teams are so familiar with the place. I also like the fact that you have to look after your tyres - especially the left front - because of the track's abrasive surface. Traction control helps to an extent, but the driver still needs to be sensitive to the car's needs."

Technical Director Willy Rampf says that knowing the circuit so well can be a two-edged sword: "On the one hand, it means everyone is familiar with its numerous foibles. On the other, for that very reason it ia one of those places where everyone usually manages to optimise their cars so teams tend to line up two-by-two on the grid. However, that may change this year as the revised regulations place more importance on race strategy by obliging teams to qualify in the same trim in which they will race."

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