Hitting the Apex: Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya

It’s Barcelona Race Week! Read on to know everything you need to know about the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.

Written by Mees Drijgers

June 3, 2023

The Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, formerly known as the Circuit de Catalunya, is a circuit located in Montmeló, near Barcelona. Racing events had taken place on and off since 1913, with a few official motorsport events taking place around Catalonia, the northeastern region of Spain, in the early years. The first official Spanish Grand Prix took place in 1913 as the RACE Grand Prix, however the race did not hold the official title of the Spanish Grand Prix until 1923 when a permanent track was built at Sitges. Due to financial difficulties and civil war, the racing in Spain was halted in 1935, and it wasn’t until 1951 that it returned to the motorsport world in the Formula 1 calendar. Early years were dabbled with financial issues and safety concerns, with Grand Prix events taking place at different circuits throughout Spain for the next 30 years, from Pedralbes, Jerez, Madrid, and Montjuic – all falling victim to issues regarding financial difficulties and safety from major, sometimes deadly, crashes.

Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton at the 2017 Spanish Grand Prix (Photo via @mercedesamgf1 on Instagram)

 When the Catalan government wanted to bring racing back to Barcelona permanently, plans for the circuit were suggested in the mid-1980s. The foundation stone was laid in February 1989, and the track was officially opened in 1991, just in time to host the Spanish Grand Prix that year and as crowds descended on the city for the summer Olympics the following year. In 2006, Fernando Alonso became the first Spaniard to win at the track, his home race, drawing in more and more crowds each year thanks to his success. Since joining the calendar in 1991, the track has been resurfaced twice: first in 2004, and most recently in 2018. Up until 2022, F1 pre-season testing took place at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, however recently it was moved to Bahrain. Ahead of the 2023 Spanish Grand Prix, the track will be returning to its original configuration last used in 2006 and currently used by MotoGP, removing the chicane in the last corner.

Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya (Photo via @scuderiaferrari on Instagram)

GENERAL INFORMATION

  • Track distance:  4.675 km / 2.904 miles
  • DRS zones: 2
  • Corners: 16
  • Elevation: 29.6 metres
  • Laps: 66
  • Race lap record: 1:18.149 Max Verstappen (2021)
  • Direction: clockwise

According to F1.com, Barcelona configuration for this year is as follows:

 

PREVIOUS TYRE COMPOUNDS

  • Selected compounds in 2022: C3 (soft) C2 (medium) C1 (hard)
  • Selected compounds in 2021: C3 (soft) C2 (medium) C1 (hard)

Michael Schumacher and Lewis Hamilton are the most successful drivers at the track with 6 wins each. Ferrari are the most successful constructor at the track, having won 8 times there. Schumacher also holds the pole record at the track: he has claimed pole position 7 times. Out of the 32 events held at the track, the race has been won from pole position 23 times (around 72%).

Lance Stroll on track at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya (Photo via @astonmartinf1 on Instagram)

The Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya is often seen as an all-rounder. The track has long straights and a variety of corners, often a mix of high- and low-speed. Due to the constant changing of the wind direction at the circuit throughout the day, the track is also very demanding of the car’s aerodynamics. Due to these features and the typically pleasant weather, up until 2022, F1 pre-season testing took place at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, however recently it was moved to Bahrain.

Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya (Photo via @alfaromeostake on Instagram)

PREVIOUS WINNERS

  • 2022 Max Verstappen
  • 2021 Lewis Hamilton
  • 2020 Lewis Hamilton
  • 2019 Lewis Hamilton
  • 2018 Lewis Hamilton

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mees was introduced to the world of F1 by one of her friends in July 2020 and hasn’t missed a race weekend since. Her favourite drivers are Alex Albon, Lewis Hamilton, Oscar Piastri, and George Russell; outside of F1, she also actively supports Liam Lawson and Callum Ilott. She specialises in writing about F2, but is looking to specialise in FE and IndyCar as well, after starting to watch both series in 2022. After getting her Bachelor’s degree in English Language and Culture, she is currently getting MA degrees in Translation and English Literature & Culture. When she’s not watching motorsport, she’s either watching football matches (preferably Real Madrid), reading a book, or watching streams on Twitch.

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