The Portimao lesson that could transform Barcelona

Jonathan Noble
·2 min read

Although the Algarve circuit had not been expected to throw up many overtaking opportunities, the Portuguese Grand Prix turned into a thriller with a number of spectacular passes.

Furthermore, the layout gave the chance for a host of wheel-to-wheel battling that went on for several corners as drivers fought for position.

Ricciardo thinks two factors were at play on Sunday – the first being the track surface and the second, more importantly, the nature of the final turn.

"I would say one of the trends is a high speed last corner," said the Renault driver. "It really gives you a chance to catch the tow from early on. It's a bit like Mugello.

"It's quite a fast last corner and you can catch the tow a lot earlier. When you look at Barcelona, and you accelerate out of a slow chicane, there's that concertina effect where you know the car's already gapped from traction.

"By the time you pick up a tow it's halfway down the straight, it's too late. So I think a high speed corner onto the straight helps a lot because you can pick up the tow and that helps overtaking.

"Then, I think as well, just this track surface being so slippery. There were mistakes and it was easy, if you basically kept a clean line, and the other car didn't, to pick up a tow or pick up an opportunity."

Ricciardo says the takeaway from Portimao is that he would like to see Barcelona go back to its original configuration of a high speed final corner.

The chicane that is currently used was introduced in 2007, with the aim of trying to help overtaking. At the time, it was felt that having a slow corner like a chicane on to a long straight, followed by another tight corner, was the right way to go.

However, Ricciardo suggests that the current generation of cars may be better off having a high speed corner on to the straights.

"I would love to go back to the old [Barcelona] circuit with that old last sector," added Ricciardo. "I think overtaking would change dramatically around that track, so hopefully we can make that happen."