Defending F1 World Champion and current world championship leader Jenson Button has predicted that the Circuit de Catalunya – scene of this weekend's forthcoming Spanish Grand Prix – will favour 'precision' over 'aggression', and therefore should play perfectly to his strengths.
Button triumphed in Barcelona this time last year, and the British star returns there twelve months on seeking a repeat performance and result with his new employers McLaren-Mercedes – what would be his third victory of the F1 2010 campaign.
What's more, the 30-year-old is confident that the track's high-speed corners will suit both his smooth driving style – in stark contrast to team-mate and compatriot Lewis Hamilton's altogether more aggressive approach – and the well-balanced MP4-25, a car that is undoubtedly a quantum leap forward over its unloved, aerodynamically inefficient predecessor.
“The Spanish Grand Prix is a race I won last year, and I regard it as one of my best victories of the 2009 season,” revealed the Frome-born ace, hopeful of adding to McLaren's strong record of four successes there in the last twelve years. “It's a relatively high-speed circuit, and one that's quite enjoyable to drive – provided your car is working properly. There are some fast corners, like Turn Nine and the final corner, but the majority of the track is made up of pretty long corners where you really need the car to do all the work.
“It's a circuit that really rewards precision, and punishes aggression – and if you've got a car that wants to understeer, then you're going to have a difficult race! Fortunately, our car does seem to have a very good neutral balance in the high-speed corners – it's probably the most impressive aspect of the car – and we went well during pre-season testing [in Barcelona], so I think we go into this weekend feeling pretty well-prepared.
“I'm looking forward to returning to Europe. It's been an incredibly exciting series of 'flyaway' races, but I think everybody in Formula 1 looks forward to racing closer to home, back in the sport's heartland.”
“In recent years, we've produced successful cars with inherent performance characteristics that enable them to perform better in slower corners,” added the Woking-based outfit's team principal Martin Whitmarsh. “While we haven't overlooked high-speed performance, it's not typically been our strongest area – and that might explain our recent loss of form around Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya.
“Despite leading both world championships, we are still working tremendously hard to bring additional performance to the MP4-25 – and for 2010 we feel we have a car that generally excels in high-speed corners.
“While that in itself isn't enough to suggest a complete reversal of our recent fortunes in Spain, we feel that the useful upgrades we're bringing to this race – which include new front and rear wings – will help us to consolidate our position among the leaders and, hopefully, enable us to close the gap to the cars at the front. It's a race we're all looking forward to enormously.”