Circuit: Circuit de Catalunya
First GP held: 1991
Circuit length: 2.893 miles
Interesting fact: For the last ten years the Spanish Grand Prix has always had a different winner.
After the first chunk of the flyaway races Formula 1 is kicking off its European leg of the season with the Spanish Grand Prix. And if there is a track out there every single driver on the grid could do with their eyes closed it is the Circuit de Catalunya.
The Circuit de Catalunya has been the home of the Spanish Grand Prix since 1991, but many more fans know it as the pre-season testing ground for Formula 1. Indeed teams have already spent eight days here this year and clocked up over 7000 laps combined, meaning the chances of this circuit catching a driver out are very low. Set up is key here, since everyone knows the track so well from testing a simple mistake can be costly, and if you fail to set up your car correctly you will pay the price.
As the first European race of the season this is the first time many teams have the chance to really upgrade the cars. While some teams, notably Ferrari, have already bolted on upgrades since the start of the season it’s in Barcelona where the development race truly kicks into gear. It is likely every team will come here with some kind of update to the cars, though some will clearly be more radical than others. One of the teams who has been hinting they will come to this race with a huge update are Red Bull, with suggestions being their updates will make this practically a B-Spec car.
In terms of the circuit itself the track has many likeable qualities including a good mix of fast and slow corners that really are a comprehensive test for both driver and car. In the past turn three of the circuit was often seen as one of the most challenging corners, and with the cars this year it is likely to get more challenging as many suspect it will be taken flat out. The same is also being said for turn nine later on during the lap.
The run towards turn one is one of the longest on the calendar and is narrower too than some of the others too, which may prove challenging this year with the cars being wider. The entry speed to turn one is also pretty high, meaning drivers have to be fully committed to make an overtaking move work. It’s one of the reasons why passing at this track is especially difficult. That and the fact the car in front is always on the throttle before you, meaning it’s hard to really challenge for an overtake round here. As a result of the lack of overtaking opportunities coupled with the well known nature of the track qualifying is key. The race has been branded as processional in nature in the past, however there have been some good races here over the years.
The 2016 Spanish Grand Prix was memorable for two reasons. Firstly it was the first race win for Red Bull’s Max Verstappen who became the youngest ever Grand Prix winner at just 18 years and 227 days old. He also became the first ever Dutch driver to win a Grand Prix when he took to the top step that weekend. However, the race is probably better known for the incident at turn four that saw both Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg take each other out in their Mercedes, which re-ignited the rivalry between the two that would dominate the headlines for the rest of the season. And ignited some of the best memes of 2017 thanks to Titanic as well…
With rain a possibility for qualifying, the championship so close right now between Ferrari and Mercedes, as well as the chance to see which cars have improved in the development wars, the Spanish Grand Prix is definitely a race to keep an eye on.Overtake Motorsport will have reports throughout the weekend. Starting tomorrow with our Free Practice Report.
Feature Image Criedit: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:F1_Circuit_de_Catalunya_-_Tribuna.jpg