F1 GP: Five fast facts about the Spanish GP | Pirelli

F1 GP: Five fast facts about the Spanish GP


The Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya is one of the longest serving venues on the Formula 1 calendar, having held the Spanish Grand Prix every year without interruption since it was opened in 1991. It's an impressive record, but F1's Spanish story goes back much further: in fact, the race used to take place right in the heart of Barcelona, firstly on the streets of the Pedralbes neighbourhood in the 1950s and later around the fearsomely fast Montjuïc mountain road course. The latter alternated with Jarama near Madrid, before the event later moved south to Jerez in the 1980s.


The circuit hasn't changed much since it was built, but minor changes have been made over the years in an attempt to try and improve the racing spectacle. In 2021, the Turn 10 hairpin was made faster and wider – largely reversing a modification that was made back in 2004. Now, the tight chicane that was inserted prior to the final corner in 2007 has been removed ahead of the 2023 race. This means a lap of Barcelona will once more end with two fast turns, and will be as quick as it's ever been.


Normally, teams and drivers know the Barcelona track very well. Not only because it has been such a constant on the calendar, but also because it's a favoured testing venue. However, as pre-season testing this year took place only in Bahrain, nobody will have driven the new layout with the latest cars until Friday practice. Still, there could be plenty of testing going on: with the Imola race weekend not taking place and Monaco being a street circuit, Barcelona will provide a key opportunity for teams to either introduce or evaluate their latest technical upgrades.


One of the things that makes Barcelona such a good venue for testing (aside from the nice weather) is that its layout provides a comprehensive test of a car's characteristics. In particular, it has a wide range of turns but many high-speed corners in which to evaluate the aerodynamics. This also makes it a demanding track for the tyres. The very long Turn 3 right-hander generates the greatest lateral forces, with the super-quick Turn 9 also a highlight. The new configuration for 2023 will only add to those forces experienced during a lap.


Despite Formula 1's long history of racing in Spain, it took more than 50 years before a home driver won the Spanish Grand Prix, when Fernando Alonso triumphed in 2006 – having become Spain's first world champion a year earlier. Now into his fifth decade himself, Alonso is still going strong and remains one of two local fan favourites who will be hoping to stand on the podium in Barcelona. The other is Carlos Sainz Jr: the son of Spain's original four-wheeled motorsport hero and double World Rally Champion, Carlos Sr – known as ‘El Matador'. Both Spanish racers will be out to halt the ‘raging bull' that is Max Verstappen, who scored a sensational maiden F1 win in at the track back in 2016 and returned to the top step there in 2022.