Friday, 1 May 2015

Infiniti Red Bull Racing Spanish Grand Prix Preview - Q&A with Daniel Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat

(Infiniti Red Bull Racing)

The Infiniti Red Bull Racing Formula One Team head to the Spanish Grand Prix at the Barcelona Circuit De Catalunya, the opening race of the European leg of the 2015 Formula One season of the back of a mixed weekend last time out at the Bahrain Grand Prix.

At the Bahrain Grand Prix two weeks ago Daniel Ricciardo blew his Renault power unit just as he came onto the start finish straight on the final lap of the race and didn’t manage to make it over the line. Despite this however, Ricciardo still finished the race in sixth place.

The Australian is now onto his fourth power unit for the season and that is the allocation for the season however it is likely that a fifth power unit will be allowed as the teams have agreed a fifth unit will be permitted on reliability grounds.

Ricciardo heads to the scene of his first ever Formula One podium as the Australian finished the 2014 Spanish Grand Prix in third place behind the Mercedes pair of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg. Ahead of the race next weekend, the Australian took part in a Q&A session with his Red Bull team.

Daniel, the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya is Formula One’s home away from home – what’s it like racing at the track you know so well?

Ah, well, I think most F1 drivers would say we’ve all done too many laps around here, but don’t get me wrong, it’s a great circuit.

Let’s concentrate on the ‘great circuit’ bit – what’s so good about it?

It’s fun to drive. The first two sectors have a really good flow to them, which is pretty cool. The last sector is a bit more about tyre management on the modern layout but the rest is exhilarating.

Apart from the temperature, how different is the circuit on grand prix weekend compared to testing?

Night and Day! We have a great atmosphere for the race. The circuit cuts into the hillside so there’s lots of good viewing areas and, so long as Alonso’s on track, it’s pretty crazy. That’s great for all of us, not just Fernando. It’s going to be good with three Spanish drivers in this year’s race. There’ll be a real buzz. 

The race itself. I think it’s one where DRS is a big plus point. In the past, because everyone knew the track and their setup so well, races tended to be a bit stale. I think the DRS means that you don’t get dull races any more. You can still defend though – it’s a good track for that – but in a way that’s going to make the race exciting for spectators. 

And how about the location? What’s the highlight of the race weekend in Catalonia?

Barcelona’s really, really cool: lots of atmosphere, really good vibe. I’m also not entirely unaware of the fact it has some pretty good beaches and, as everyone is probably tired of hearing, I’m always happiest when we’ve got sand and water nearby. It’s also a great city for food. Obviously I eat carefully but I’m not one of those drivers who completely ignores the local cuisine. The restaurants in Barcelona are definitely a highlight and I’m a big fan of eating out here.

Ricciardo’s team mate Daniil Kvyat finished the Bahrain Grand Prix finished the race in ninth place albeit one lap down on race winner Lewis Hamilton. As a result of their double points finish in Bahrain, Infiniti Red Bull Racing are currently in fourth place in the championship on 23 points, 38 behind the Williams Martini Racing Team.

Last season, while driving for Scuderia Toro Rosso, Daniil Kvyat finished the Spanish Grand Prix in 14th place having started the event from 12th place. The Russian will be hoping to improve on his performance for this season with his new team. Taking part in his own Q&A with Infiniti Red Bull Racing, Kvyat was asked:

The Circuit de Catalunya is a venue that holds few secrets for drivers, but after all the testing miles you put in there, does the track still hold any appeal?

Obviously the teams and drivers know the track very well simply through testing. We’re there in pre-season and all the drivers do a lot of miles there. However, just because we do a lot of testing there it doesn’t mean the track is any less challenging for a driver. There’s a reason it’s used so much and that’s because it’s got a great variety of corners and a lot of different challenges. For a driver it’s a tough track, quite technical but if you get everything right then it’s really enjoyable. 

The track is a little way outside of Barcelona, so do you get a chance to explore or is it a case of circuit hotel, track and airport?

I know Barcelona well and really like being in Spain. I lived there for three months when I was racing in Formula Renault 2.0 as my team at the time was based there. Because I speak Italian it was easy for me to pick up some Spanish and that makes the experience of being there a bit better. I have a lot of friends there and try to hang out a bit when I’m there.

© Ben Johnston 2015

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