Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya: The Ultimate Track Guide

The Spanish Grand Prix moved homes plenty of times before it settled at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya in 1991. The track is well known by drivers and mechanics thanks to extensive testing.


FIRST F1 RACE 1991
TRACK LENGTH 2.892 miles
NUMBER OF LAPS 66
NUMBER OF TURNS 16
MOST POLES Michael Schumacher (7)
MOST WINS Michael Schumacher, Lewis Hamilton (6)

Spain has one of the longest histories with motorsport, with the first Spanish Grand Prix taking place in 1913 on a road circuit near Madrid. Another race was held ten years later, after the First World War, at the Autódromo de Sitges-Terramar, before Grand Prix racing found a more permanent home at the Circuito Lasarte. The racing was popular, but was halted when the Spanish Civil War broke out in 1936. Racing returned in the 1950s, as Spain hosted a Formula One race for the first time at the Pedralbes circuit. Between 1968 and 1975, the sport visited the Circuito del Jarama and the Montjuïc circuit on a yearly rotation, before the latter hosted the Spanish Grand Prix consistently between 1976 and 1981 following a crash which killed four spectators at the Montjuïc circuit. In 1986, the new Jerez circuit was built to host the Spanish Grand Prix, though this only lasted for five seasons before the event moved to another new venue – the Circuit de Barcelona Catalunya.

Situated in Montmelo, north of Barcelona, the first race was held here in 1991. The Catalan Parliament first agreed that a racing circuit would be built in the area in October 1986 and building began in February 1989. The circuit opened on 10th September 1991 and the first race, a round of the Spanish Touring Car Championship, took place five days later. Later in the month, the first Formula One race at the track took place. It was the 35th Grand Prix to be held in Spain.

Spain doesn’t have too much history in Formula One in terms of star drivers, but the circuit has enjoyed an upsurge in popularity since the turn of the millennium thanks to Fernando Alonso, who has brought a whole new Spanish audience to the sport.

Overtaking was frequent at this track thanks to the fast final corner, which allowed the cars to slipstream down the main straight. Now, however, the track has a reputation for being difficult to overtake. The final corner on the track used to be the fastest part but, due to safety concerns, the corner was taken out and replaced with a chicane section, which slows the cars down before they turn the final part of the original corner.

From 2013 onwards, the Spanish Grand Prix was contracted to alternate between this circuit and the street track in Valencia, though this did not happen as Valencia pulled out of the deal. The Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya signed a one year extension to their contract to host the Spanish Grand Prix in 2019 and the deal has been extended by one year for both the 2020 and 2021 Spanish Grands Prix.

2020 SPANISH GP RECAP

Once again, the Spanish Grand Prix failed to provide a scintillating race as Lewis Hamilton stormed to a fourth consecutive Catalunya victory.

Lewis Hamilton started from pole position at the 2020 Spanish Grand Prix, having lapped just 0.059 seconds quicker than his team-mate in qualifying. It was a bad start for Valtteri Bottas, who lost positions to Max Verstappen and Lance Stroll, as Hamilton sailed into the lead. Bottas managed to re-pass Stroll on the fifth lap, with Verstappen staying close behind the leading Mercedes. Verstappen switched tyres as the race reached one third of its distance, emerging ahead of the Racing Points. Both Mercedes drivers pitted two laps later, with Verstappen remaining ahead of Bottas. There were battles in the midfield, with Lando Norris attempting an overtake on Esteban Ocon only to then be challenged himself by Charles Leclerc. Leclerc later spun and came to a halt at the final chicane with an engine issue. The Monegasque driver retired from the race as a result. Hamilton went on to take an unchallenged victory, with Verstappen and Bottas completing the podium. Sergio Perez and Lance Stroll finished fourth and fifth, securing a strong result for Racing Point.

2019 SPANISH GP RECAP

Valtteri Bottas dominated in qualifying, but it was Lewis Hamilton who led home a fifth consecutive Mercedes 1-2 at the 2019 Spanish Grand Prix.

Valtteri Bottas shone on Saturday as he took a commanding pole position, lapping over six tenths quicker than team-mate Lewis Hamilton. Starting from pole for the third consecutive race, Bottas failed to maintain his advantage into the first turn. Both Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel pulled alongside, with Hamilton driving into the distance as the Finn was squeezed by the two champions. Verstappen made his way up to third place, ahead of the Ferraris. The two Ferrari drivers swapped places, as Vettel had picked up a flatspot in the opening lap drama. Just before the midpoint, Daniil Kvyat made a fine move on Kimi Raikkonen at Turn 4, while Vettel finally re-passed Charles Leclerc on Lap 36. Lando Norris and Lance Stroll became the first retirements of the afternoon as the pair collided through the opening corners of the lap. That brought out the Safety Car, which bunched the field back up. The two Haas drivers collided on the restart, forcing Romain Grosjean to take avoiding action. The pair repeated their antics a few laps later, this time without contact. Hamilton took victory, with Bottas finishing second to give Mercedes a fifth consecutive 1-2 finish. Max Verstappen completed the podium.

2018 SPANISH GP RECAP

It was a dominant weekend for Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton as Romain Grosjean raised eyebrows with his first lap antics

Brendon Hartley had a heavy crash in Free Practice Three, while Lewis Hamilton took pole for the second time in 2018. With Mercedes locking out the front row, Sebastian Vettel made it past Valtteri Bottas for second place at the first turn. Further back, Romain Grosjean span and caused havoc among the midfield runners, eliminating himself, Nico Hulkenberg and Pierre Gasly from the Grand Prix. After a Safety Car period, Vettel was first to pit while the other Ferrari came to a halt with turbo issues. A Virtual Safety Car later in the race gave Vettel the opportunity to pit again, rejoining in fourth, behind Max Verstappen. There were plenty of tussles on track – Charles Leclerc and Fernando Alonso went head-to-head, and Verstappen ran into the back of Lance Stroll’s Williams as the VSC period ended. Hamilton took the win by over twenty seconds, with Bottas making it a one-two for Mercedes. Despite contact with Stroll, Verstappen took his first podium finish of the year.


FAST FACTS

  • At Turn Seven you can see an old farmhouse, which existed before the circuit was built. It now houses the circuit’s offices.
  • Between 2007 and 2016, there were no repeat winners of the Spanish Grand Prix.
  • The circuit was built in 1991, and in 1992, the track acted as the start/finish line for the road team time trial cycling event in the Olympics which were held in Barcelona.
  • In 1992, the race here was advertised as the ‘Grand Prix of the Olympic Games’.
  • Wind direction can have a significant impact on the Catalunya track, and it is known to change drastically throughout the day.
  • The circuit is probably the most well-known to the teams and drivers as they test extensively here in Winter Testing.
  • The track has seen a number of event sponsors over the years, from Marlboro and Pirelli to the Spanish based giants Telefónica and Santander.
  • The track was known as the Circuit de Catalunya until 2013, when a sponsorship deal with the Barcelona City Council saw ‘Barcelona’ added to its title.
  • The circuit can hold over 140,000 spectators, and was a sell-out event in Fernando Alonso’s most competitive seasons.

CATALUNYA WINNERS AND POLESITTERS

YearPolesitterTeam On PoleWinnerWinning Team
1991Gerhard BergerMcLarenNigel MansellWilliams
1992Nigel MansellWilliamsNigel MansellWilliams
1993Alain ProstWilliamsAlain ProstWilliams
1994Michael SchumacherBenettonDamon HillWilliams
1995Michael SchumacherBenettonMichael SchumacherBenetton
1996Damon HillWilliamsMichael SchumacherFerrari
1997Jacques VilleneuveWilliamsJacques VilleneuveWilliams
1998Mika HäkkinenMcLarenMika HäkkinenMcLaren
1999Mika HäkkinenMcLarenMika HäkkinenMcLaren
2000Michael SchumacherFerrariMika HäkkinenMcLaren
2001Michael SchumacherFerrariMichael SchumacherFerrari
2002Michael SchumacherFerrariMichael SchumacherFerrari
2003Michael SchumacherFerrariMichael SchumacherFerrari
2004Michael SchumacherFerrariMichael SchumacherFerrari
2005Kimi RäikkönenMcLarenKimi RäikkönenMcLaren
2006Fernando AlonsoRenaultFernando AlonsoRenault
2007Felipe MassaFerrariFelipe MassaFerrari
2008Kimi RäikkönenFerrariKimi RäikkönenFerrari
2009Jenson ButtonBrawn GPJenson ButtonBrawn GP
2010Mark WebberRed BullMark WebberRed Bull
2011Mark WebberRed BullSebastian VettelRed Bull
2012Pastor MaldonadoWilliamsPastor MaldonadoWilliams
2013Nico RosbergMercedesFernando AlonsoFerrari
2014Lewis HamiltonMercedesLewis HamiltonMercedes
2015Nico RosbergMercedesNico RosbergMercedes
2016Lewis HamiltonMercedesMax VerstappenRed Bull
2017Lewis HamiltonMercedesLewis HamiltonMercedes
2018Lewis HamiltonMercedesLewis HamiltonMercedes
2019Valtteri BottasMercedesLewis HamiltonMercedes
2020Lewis HamiltonMercedesLewis HamiltonMercedes
2021Lewis HamiltonMercedesLewis HamiltonMercedes