Changes to Turn 10 at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya have met with a wary reception from multiple drivers ahead of this weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix.
What was the slowest corner on the track — and one of the few major braking zones — has been amended to become a faster, sweeping left-hander that rejoins the track at the exit of what was Turn 11. As a higher-speed corner with a smaller braking zone coming after the second DRS zone, many drivers feel it is unlikely to improve things from a wheel-to-wheel perspective.
“I don’t think, looking at it, it will bring anything in racing conditions,” Sergio Perez said. “Overtaking is already very hard, so removing the slowest corner in the circuit probably wasn’t the best idea. Let’s see how it works — it might turn out that it’s better to follow and so on. It will be interesting to see what it does in terms of tire energy through the lap, whether that changes anything for the final sector. That’s a variant that we need to learn.”
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Charles Leclerc agreed with Perez, believing it will reduce the chances of moves being made at that corner and leaving Turn 1 as the only realistic overtaking spot.
“I’m pretty sure that there will be different lines there and that should be a bit better to follow, but I also feel that Turn 10 was an opportunity to overtake, so I don’t know,” Leclerc said. “I think there will be less overtaking in Turn 10 but if then it helps us to follow closer for overtaking before Turn 1, then that’s great. But I think we’ll have to try before before commenting on that.”
The two home favorites faced the media together in Spain, but Fernando Alonso — who raced on the track in its previous layout back in the early 2000s — isn’t expecting the development to have a great impact.
“I don’t think it will change much, honestly,” Alonso said. “It was there anyway in the past, so sometimes even if you brake a little bit late into 10, you take that run off area and you rejoin the track in 12.
“I don’t think it’s going to be a huge impact on the lap time, on the setups, or the overtaking possibilities. I think it’s pretty similar. It should be transparent I think from the outside, to the spectator’s point of view.”
Leclerc’s Ferrari teammate Carlos Sainz fears the potential positives of providing a wider corner could be cancelled out by the higher apex speed and shorter braking distance.
“In the past, Turn 10 was always difficult to follow a car in front, just because there was only one line,” Sainz said. “There’s a strong point that maybe having a wider line, you can maybe place your car a bit differently to the car in front and get a bit more clean air. At the same time, it’s a higher-speed corner — we will feel a bit more the downforce loss if we follow. One thing might compensate the other but let’s see.”
Sainz at least noted some potential upsides, and Pierre Gasly is another driver who is a little more optimistic that the corner will at least allow different lines that might make it easier to follow in that section of the track.
“Honestly, I don’t have the answer now because we haven’t tried it yet, but it doesn’t make the straight line a lot longer,” Gasly said. “Clearly I think there will be slightly more lines possible out of Turn 10, so I do hope racing improves and it gives us the opportunity to put a bit of pressure on braking, maybe try something different on exit and overtake.
“It might give us a bit more opportunities in terms of racing, but in terms of driving it’s mostly a bit more open, a bit faster corner.”
But there was one driver who was positive about the change, as Valtteri Bottas says the old Turn 10 was a weakness of his in Spain.
“It never was my strongest corner, so I’m not bothered at all they changed it — it’s one less problem!” Bottas said. “But I don’t know, really. I’ll walk the track tonight and have a proper look. I’m not sure it’s going to change that much.”