The Spanish Grand Prix weekend will offer F1 teams a valuable reference point as to how far they have been able to develop their cars during the opening five races of the season, says Williams driver Nicholas Latifi.
After a weekend of rest following the Miami race, F1 will head back to Barcelona this weekend for the first time since pre-season testing. It was this behind-closed-doors test that allowed teams to run their newborn cars in anger.
But since then, developments have been bolted on in the quest for either more performance or fixes for gremlins, with the return visit giving teams a chance to see how far – or not – they have come.
So far, Red Bull appear to have made the most progress, closing in on Ferrari and securing back-to-back race wins in Imola and Miami. However, the Spanish GP could bring big upgrades throughout the field.
Williams confident they have made strong progress
Williams will return to Barcelona confident that they are amongst the teams to have made significant improvements since pre-season testing.
The team have scored points in two of their last three races, partly thanks to the tyre management heroics of Alex Albon.
The nature of the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya will also offer Williams important data gathering, with the venue a popular test track through its mixture of high-, mid- and low-speed corners.
“After a few street-style tracks, it’s going to be nice to get back to the more traditional circuit,” said Latifi, looking ahead to the race weekend.
“It’s a track that should give us a good measure of where we are with the FW44 and how we’ve developed it since testing at the beginning of the season.
“I think we all feel that we’ve gained a much better understanding of the car and evolved it well, so it will be positive to have that reference point of how far we’ve come.
“Hopefully, we can deliver a good result in Spain.”
Albon: We’re hungry for more points in Spain
For Albon, the weekend in Barcelona will prove a little different, with Formula E World Champion Nyck de Vries stepping in to replace him during FP1, fulfilling one of the two mandated young driver sessions the team must complete this season.
“It will good to head back to Barcelona; I’m interested to see how much the car has improved since we were last there for pre-season testing,” he said, agreeing with Latifi.
“It’s a good track and one that every driver has done countless laps around, more so than any other circuit.
“That familiarity will work in my favour this weekend and help me get up to speed more quickly after sitting out FP1 whilst Nyck is in the car.
“We’re hungry for more points after Miami, so that’s what we’ll continue to push for.”