Spanish Grand Prix: Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya

Turns 1 to 3
Turns 1 to 3 (Jose Mª Izquierdo Galiot /

There are probably few more iconic race circuits in the world right now than that of the Circuit de Barcelona-Catlalunya. The track has been about since 1992 and was seen as a replacement for the Montjuic Circuit that hosted four Spanish Grand Prix’s between 1969 and 1975. 

The track is based out of the Spanish city of Barcelona, just a few minutes outside of the city centre. The track is famed for having almost perfect weather and is widely regarded as the first of the major European tracks throughout the season. 

In fact, the weather is a major part why so many teams do extensive winter testing there, especially the European based cars. The track has come under criticism for this though and with it stating that drivers now know the track too well, almost diminishing any nuances that it once had. 


Swap Start/End

Circuit Info

Location Length Corners Capacity Year Opened
Barcelona 4.655km 16 140,700 1991

Circuit Layout

F1 Barcelona Track Map

The 4.655km track was designed as part of the development process for the 1992 Olympics that were going to be hosted in Spain. Whilst there was no racing for the Olympics, the start finish line was used for the rad team time trial cycling race. 

The overview of the track is very distinctive, with three main ‘humps’ and a long start finish line. But, the exposed track is very susceptible to wind. The wind actually plays a huge role within any given race and the direction can change from one session to the other.

The main problem this brings is how the aerodynamics of a car work. Where you had grip at early stages of the race in certain corners, a wind change can result in certain parts of the corner not having any wind. This can play havoc with the drivers and is actually one of the attributing facts that people believe led to the crash in 2015 that Fernando Alonso had whilst testing. 

The first part of the lap is where the majority of the overtaking occurs. You have a long straight, before heading into a sweeping right hand then immediate left hand. If cars get out of shape where then they lose all momentum going up to the third corner and it’s seen as a great opportunity at the start of the race for cars further down the grid to make up some significant ground. 

As the course wraps itself round on itself, a number of sweeping corners are met by the drivers, before again hitting a fairly tight one at 7 that many drivers just go straight over the kerb. The final part of the track includes a large chicane at corners 14 and 15. These are pretty slow so provide a good opportunity to pass. It’s imperative to get a good run through these corners in order to maintain enough speed to hit the home straight, which is also where DRS can be activated. 

The course over the years has only seen minor adjustments made to it, with tweaks in a few of the corners, but has remained relatively untouched. Some people have been calling for a move away from the track due to the familiarity that so many teams have with it, but it’s still able to offer a tough test and it’s widely considered that any rival tracks within Spain won’t be up the job of being able to host such an event. 

Recent Winners

YearDriverCarFastest Lap
2017 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1.25.593
2016 Max Verstappen Red Bull 1.28.816
2015 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1.29.109
2014 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1.29.483
2013 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1.26.681

Other Races at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya

Pit Lane Entrance
Pit Lane Entrance (Pedroserafin /

There are a number of other races that take part at the circuit, such as the Catalan Motorcycle Grand Prix and the World RX of Spain. But, it’s other major race is that of the European Grand Prix for the MotoGP. Spain has had a long-time love affair with the sport and often brings in crowds that are able to rival that of a Formula 1 weekend. 

Throughout the years, the track has seen some of the major racing disciplines from around the world. These include the FIA Sportscar Championship, European Touring Car Championship, FIA GT Championship, Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters, European Le Mans Series, World Series by Renault and the FIA World Rallycross Championship. 


The Start Line at Barcelona
The Start Line at Barcelona (Mutari /

There are few circuits currently on the F1 calendar that have seen so many dramatic moments than the Spanish Grand Prix. One of the most iconic scenes in motor racing was when two of the greats, in Ayrton Senna and Nigel Mansell went toe to toe in the 1991 Grand Prix. They were battling it out for second place at the time, but the sprint down the home straight when they were side by side for the whole length, before Mansell got on the brakes ever so slightly later than Senna to pip him for the position, before going on to win the race. 

Famous Winners

In a bizarre incident in 1994, Michael Schumacher found himself finishing in second place despite driving for more than half of the race with only 5th gear. Given that the cars had so much speeding and slowing down to do, the fact that no one was able to catch or pass him, was testament to the great driving skills of Schumacher. 

But, for Spanish fans, few would say that any moment was sweeter than in 2006 when Spaniard Fernando Alonso became the first Spanish driver to ever win on home soil. The win extended Alonso’s position at the top of the drivers’ championship, before eventually going on to lift his second consecutive drivers’ Championship at Renault. 

Whilst the track does come under criticism every now and again, and sometimes rightly so, there is no doubting that there are few more special places in the F1 calendar than at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. A track steeped in history and tradition, and hopefully one that is going to see many more races in the next few years.