McLaren driver Stoffel Vandoorne is hoping he will be able to take Barcelona's daunting Turn 3 flat-out in this year's new generation of F1 cars.
The Circuit de Catalunya's long sweeping Turn 3 was a fifth-gear, 215 km/h corner in 2016, with speeds rising to 280 km/h as the corner opens up at the exit. During his pole position lap for last year's Spanish Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton briefly lifted completely off the throttle on entry to the corner before feeding the power back in following the apex.
Vandoorne says McLaren's simulator indicates that the corner will not require a lift of the throttle under F1's new aerodynamic regulations, but admitted he would not know for sure until testing starts at the end of the month.
"I'm really hoping that we'll be able to take Turn 3 at Barcelona flat this year," Vandoorne told the McLaren website. "It's a corner that I've been able to take flat in the junior series, such as Formula Renault 3.5, so you'd expect it to be flat in Formula One as well, even though there's a lot more horsepower. Obviously, I've still only driven it in the sim, but using our current predictions, it should be flat -- whether it actually will be, we'll have to wait and see."
The ability to take corners such as Barcelona's Turn 3 flat out will have the knock-on effect of altering the way teams and drivers approach car set-up.
"When a corner is flat, you don't really think about it too much," Vandoorne added. "You know you can't do anything else except put your foot to the floor, and then be as smooth as possible with the steering wheel so as not to scrub too much speed off. So then your focus shifts towards other parts of the circuit: if some corners become easy-flat, then you shift set-up focus elsewhere; towards the slower parts of the track. We'll be working harder to extract the most performance from those areas of the track.
"I think everything will take a step up -- high-speed corners will probably become flat, or close to flat; the mid-speed corners will probably become high-speed corners. And I think the low-speed stuff will still be very similar, it will just be a general step up everywhere."