Panasonic Toyota Racing travels to Barcelona still holding second place in both the drivers' and constructors' championships. Jarno Trulli has 18 points in the drivers' competition after the four races held to date - Australia, Malaysia, Bahrain and San Marino - while team mate Ralf Schumacher is in fifth position with nine points. In the manufacturers' contest, Panasonic Toyota Racing has taken 27 points from the first four grands prix. The team will now push hard for another strong performance around the Catalan circuit after a more difficult weekend at the first European race of the season at Imola a fortnight ago.
Jarno Trulli has qualified in the top five at every race so far this year and heads to Spain with three consecutive points finishes to his credit. His principal aim for the Spanish Grand Prix is to consolidate his second position in the drivers' championship.
Jarno Trulli (Car 16): "We have had a great start to the year and I'm delighted to be in second place in the championship going to Barcelona. To perform well there a car needs to have very good aerodynamic performance. The circuit has lots of corners and many of them are relatively high speed. It all means that a lot of the lap is spent in corners and so the car's balance has to be absolutely right. During winter testing we were never extremely quick at Barcelona but we have had substantial aerodynamic revisions since then and I am confident because the car has been more competitive everywhere so far. The track has been resurfaced since last year's race and was quite slippery initially, although I don't expect this will be an issue when more tyre rubber goes down. I think warmer conditions would suit us better."
SEEKING GAINS IN SPAIN
Ralf Schumacher has demonstrated points-scoring pace in each of the last three races. The German driver is confident that Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya should suit the strengths of the team's TF105 chassis.
Ralf Schumacher (Car 17): "We should definitely be more competitive in Spain than we were at Imola. The San Marino Grand Prix was always going to be a tough event for us, and our performance there shows that there is room for improvement. We now have to analyse the data from that race and come up with solutions for circuits that might pose similar problems for us, although Barcelona should not be one of them. The Circuit de Catalunya is a demanding track with four high-speed corners and, because of its situation on a hill, the wind is a major factor. It can be changeable, which makes the track difficult in terms of aerodynamics and gearing. As for the tyres, when we first tested on the new surface it was very smooth and too slippery but now that teams have done more running there, it's fine."
THE CIRCUIT DE CATALUNYA
The Circuit de Catalunya's resurfacing has had less of an effect on the car's behaviour than it has on tyre performance agrees Chief Race Engineer Dieter Gass.
Dieter Gass - Chief Race Engineer: "The Circuit de Catalunya is an extremely well-rounded track which demands ultimate performance from each and every aspect of the car. The car simply has to be quick over the entire lap with more attention on high speed corners than we have needed at the last few races. We need to ensure that the TF105 has good traction, but also good top speed to produce competitive lap times.
Because we can assess the overall package at Barcelona, it is used a lot for testing purposes. It is a circuit that teams know extremely well and that can in turn lead to a highly competitive field. However, the track was resurfaced over the winter, which will offer a new challenge to everyone, but the basic characteristics of the circuit remain unchanged. The resurfacing has had less of an effect on the car's behaviour than it has on tyre performance. Historically, Barcelona has been very demanding on the tyres with a high level of degradation, but now it does not seem to be anywhere near as bad."