Teams bringing new parts to catch Brawn (Spanish Grand Prix preview)

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Robert Kubica will be hoping his revised BMW F1.09 performs better

Many F1 teams are expecting a boost in performance at the Spanish Grand Prix as the return to Europe gives them a chance to bring a host of news parts.

Several of them are likely to introduce their versions of the ‘double decker diffusers’ that were confirmed legal last month.

But with Brawn bringing updated parts too, can anyone narrow the gap to the flying BGP001s?

How far ahead are Brawn?

John Spencer has put together these charts looking at how the teams stack up alongside Brawn over the first four races:

Brawn versus other teams in qualifying
Brawn versus other teams in races

Interestingly the circuit where Brawn’s advantage has been greatest so far is Sepang. Its long straights and high aerodynamic loads make it more similar to the Catalunya circuit than the other three, suggesting Brawn should be especially strong here. But will that be the case?

New parts

Here’s what the teams have said about new components they’ll be bringing to Spain:

BMW – Claims it will have a “new nose section, more deeply undercut sidepods and rear wing” along with revisions to its front wing, engine cover and underbody. The latter will presumably include a revised diffuser.

It looks likely to be one of the most revised cars on the grid – and boy do they need it to be.

Ferrari – Lots of changes to the F60, some have even unofficially dubbed it the ‘F60B’. Goofy has posted some videos of it in the forum although as it’s shot from a distance it’s tricky to see what changes have been made:

Toyota – Dieter Gass has said the team are planning a minor aerodynamic upgrade for Catalunya.

McLaren – Having rushed in changes to its diffuser at China following the diffuser verdict, McLaren has played down its ability to get many new parts on the car this weekend.

Brawn – The team they’re all trying to catch isn’t standing still. Ross Brawn had this to say:

Whilst we have been away racing over the past few weeks, the factory has been working extremely hard on our upgrade package for the BGP 001 and we look forward to seeing the results of our development work on track in Barcelona this weekend.

Will any of the teams be able to catch Brawn at Spain?

Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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45 comments on “Teams bringing new parts to catch Brawn (Spanish Grand Prix preview)”

  1. McLaren did a lot of work on the background so i believe Hamilton will be fast enough

    1. i sure hope so

    2. agreed :)

  2. StrFerrari4Ever
    4th May 2009, 18:59

    You forgot to mention the underdogs Toro Rosso & Force India, Toro Rosso are going to have an updated diffuser and aero updates same with Force India.
    All very interesting stuff :D the pecking order is going to be changed yet again this weekend

    1. But doesn’t the Red Bull have the complex rear suspension which is difficult to adapt for a new diffuser? I heard Red Bull are going to have to wait ’til Turkey for their new diffuser, and the Toro Rosso and Red Bull cars are effectively identical. I wonder if Toro Rosso are acting as a diffuser guinea pig for Red Bull?

    2. the red bull started the season with a tricky diffuser – the rear wing endplates extend to about the reference plane, enlarging the diffuser volume. i’m surprised it wasn’t copied ASAP.

    3. Red Bull have said they won’t have a ‘double diffuser’ until Monaco, the next race, so it would be very surprising if Toro Rosso has it this weekend.

  3. Bigbadderboom
    4th May 2009, 19:06

    I think Ferrari will show the biggest improvement. But Mclaren will be the team to challenge the Brawns and Red Bulls in the short term. I just wonder how much more development there is in the Brawn car, its aleady had a good 12 months of development. I know they have’nt tested much but Ross would have collected a lot of track Data from the old car.
    I think Brawn will stay a front runner buit the gap will close in the next 3 races.

  4. StrFerrari4Ever
    4th May 2009, 19:17

    I expect at this race the biggest improvement to be the Ferrari’s after a telling off from the boss they must’ve known we better deliver or we’re in some deep horse ish.
    But at Monaco everyone prepare to see Red Bull destroy everyone with their RB5B we were all saying they will have huge problems but Newey will deliver yet again and leave us astonished mark my words STR4B due to be at Monaco so i’ve heard so we could see an all Red Bull Top 4 :) Now that would be Faaaaaantastic :)

    1. A Buemi Vettel 1-2. Now that would be the best :D

  5. Anything on Renault?? i thought Briatore said they would have major updates in Spain as well?

    How come Ferrari are testing i thought they could only test in straight lines or something like that, and by the video thats not what it seems.

    1. They are allowed to turn around at the end of the straights, but not at any great speed!

  6. StrFerrari4eva, you really are a RedBull/Torro Rosso fanatic aren’t you lol!

  7. What I’ve recently read on some Polish site is the following:
    – The “new Ferrari” is 20-25kg lighter than its predecessor. This sounds incredible, but we’ll see.
    – The BMW has reduced their cars’ weight by 15kg – this means Kubica can use KERS and have a good car set-up. They also have constructed a double difuser, BUT… it seems not to work. Thus, they will most prolly not use it in Spain yet.

    BMW – Claims it will have a “new nose section

    I hope it’s prettier!

    How far ahead are Brawn?

    You know, Keith, I think it is safe to say that Red Bull are already on par with Brawn.

    1. The “new Ferrari” is 20-25kg lighter than its predecessor

      No KERS? That would be funny.

      I think it is safe to say that Red Bull are already on par with Brawn.

      Toyota? Not quite. The season is shaping up nicely, I hope Ferrari and McLaren can come back to make a four or five way fight for the title. BMW at the back is hilarious.

    2. I would not be suprised if Ferrari are saving weight by not running KERS!!! BMW have said on Autosport they are not going to use it in Spain.

    3. From what I understood, Ferrari reduced the weight of the car so they could use KERS better.

  8. Thanks keith!!!

  9. StrFerrari4Ever
    4th May 2009, 20:38

    Yes Striay I am a Toro Rosso/Red Bull fanatic I mean you can’t possibly tell me you don’t enjoy the stories on both their websites especially the STR one they have humour and its just Fan Friendly. If they wont be in F1 next season it will be like losing a part of me:S i dare not to think

    1. Williams 4ever
      4th May 2009, 21:18

      STRF4EVER –

      I mean you can’t possibly tell me you don’t enjoy the stories on both their websites especially the STR one they have humour and its just Fan Friendly

      I can agree with you on that one. Redbulletin Staff are closest F1 fans can get to F1 teams on track side. First to open the Redbulletin trailer, last to close it and friendly staff, chatting with fans, handing out Redbulletin copies.
      Not to mention their websites are fan friendly, unlike the “Business Like” websites of the competition.

  10. Friday practice will be very interesting.But the way the season’s going they’ll be 2secconds faster per lap so brawn,toyota, williams, will protest their new development’s.You can just see it happening.

  11. I am joining the ranks of Red Bull fans myself,they are fun,friendly and Vettel is the kind of guy you love to root for….seems a far cry from the stuffy people at some of the other teams.Still pulling for my BMW boys though,I hope they get somewhere with this new package,I was expecting to be rooting Heidfeld and Kubica on to more podiums at this point.

  12. Great graph, and great point made- it’s hard to believe just how well Brawn are dominating… and to think they almost didn’t enter.

    1. Again, all credit to John for the graph.

  13. Weren’t Williams developing a Flywheel KERS? What ever happened to that?

    1. Weren’t Williams developing a Flywheel KERS? What ever happened to that?

      They have a company named Williams Hybrid Power ( that is still working on a version for their F1 car, but I don’t think they have yet said when it will be ready, the usual “it will be ready when it’s ready”.

  14. What a cracker of a season 2009 is. I would like to see a Williams or Toyota get a win, to mix things up a bit

    1. Can’t agree with that.
      With the possible exception of Vettel, there are no truly great drivers there at the moment. All of them are only as good (or worse) as the cars they drive.
      Really miss Senna or Schumi who were capable of scoring way above the supposed limits of the available machinery.
      That made for some incredible racing!

      Now its a race between engineers, race tacticians and managers arguing diffusers. Also fine, but – not quite the same thing!

  15. I hope it just means all the cars are running a bit closer together and are a bit more equal. I have enjoyed the season so far with the so-called ‘top’ teams struggling and the ‘underdogs’ being able to fight for the win instead.
    If this doesn’t prove that smaller independent teams are better for the sport, nothing does!

  16. while they’re still allowed to throw money at their problems, ferrari will. mclaren will get closer, red bull won’t move forward until newey has sorted out the diffuser/pull rod suspension issue, toyota will remain where they are but will have sent their entire pitwall back to university to learn about tyres and strategy, and brawn will waltz away into the distance…

    and what of williams, force india, toro rosso? well they’re as we speak perfecting a method of getting their cars to run on enthusiasm, optimism and elbow grease, as those are the things they have in abundance, and seems to be the only chance they have of delivering on their stated potential…!


  17. i kinda curious, are the front and rear wing changeable? i mean, like previous years we’ve seen different types of wings on every rounds. e.g in monza and monaco which very different approach by gaining downforce, thus the wings get different.

    still happens in 2009?

  18. More stuff on new parts the teams are bringing this weekend:

    Renault – new wheel fairings, new rear wing, small aerodynamic tweaks.

    BMW No double diffuser

    1. More on the ‘F60B’ via Goofy on the forum:


    a closer look at the ferrari f60B

    looks fast and has kers in it. can they catch brawn, redbull, toyota, even lewis’ mclaren? i just hope so

  20. I see a good oportunity for ‘before’ and ‘after’ upgrade pictures to be posted here for fans to see the diferences. Sadly is not very good in this department…

  21. it does make me laugh how Ferrari, the most sucessful F1 team are so far behind. And they have resorted to binning KERs I think is homage to the waste of time and money that KERs offers. I would love, however, to see how Force India use their KERs system in a couple of races time, especially as it is Mercs, if they do well with it how long until Brawn buy in?

  22. Beware of Toyota in Barcelona.

  23. mythrenegade
    5th May 2009, 17:30

    Wait, I thought in season testing was banned. Isn’t that exactly what that video shows Ferrari doing?


    1. All the teams are allowed a limited number of ‘straight-line’ tests per year (which does not literally mean only driving in a straight line as discussed above!). Off the top of my head I think it’s eight.

  24. Interview with Ferrari’s Technical Director Aldo Costa with some images of Straightline test and information about aeroupdates

    1. Thanks Goofy:

  25. Brawn4Constructors
    6th May 2009, 1:16

    Button again. First Pole, then the top step of the Podium.

    Fri 5/8 3:00AM (EST)

    1031 JENSON BUTTON +200
    1032 SEBASTIEN VETTEL +500
    1033 FERNANDO ALONSO +900
    1034 LEWIS HAMILTON +900
    1035 RUBENS BARICHELLO +1000
    1036 KIMI RAIKKONEN +1000
    1037 FELIPE MASSA +1200
    1038 JARNO TRULLI +1400
    1039 MARK WEBBER +1600
    1040 TIMO GLOCK +1800
    1041 ROBERT KUBICA +2500
    1042 FIELD +1000

  26. schumi the greatest
    6th May 2009, 9:26

    Historically the best car walks it at barcelona.

    So button to win again i think…would like to see rubens have a clear run all weekend and it be a head to head for the brawn drivers (sounds broing i know but i just cant see anyone getting near them here). I think mclaren will drop back abit from bahrain so lewis will probably be scrapping for the minor point scoring places. Lewis himself and whitmarsh have said that bahrain flattered the car and barcelona is all about having a good car aerodynamically because of the long corners so he’ll struggle here.

  27. Ok, as far as i know RBR may have an aero update for Barca.

    In China they extended the wheelbase by 50mm and added more ballast to the front.

    Also ive heard RBR may be introducing a Carbon Fibre Gearbox.

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