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Catalunya Info Race Date: 13 May 2012 Circuit Name: Circuit de Catalunya Number of Laps: 66 Circuit Length: 4.655 km Race Distance: 307.104 km Lap Record: 1:21.670 - K Raikkonen (2008)
The Formula One teams are no strangers to Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya; not only have they raced there every year since 1991, they also conduct extensive testing at the venue.
Familiarity does not, however, lessen the challenge for car or driver. Barcelona's mix of high and low-speed corners, plus its abrasive and rather bumpy track surface, makes for a physically and mechanically taxing race. Tyre wear is particularly high and the varying winds that cut across the circuit mean an optimum set-up can be hard to find.
For spectators Elf corner is among the best places to watch, as it is one of the track's few overtaking opportunities. For the drivers it is the final two turns, known collectively as New Holland, which provide one of the biggest challenges of the season. A fast exit is essential in order to maximise speed down the start-finish straight into Elf.
2012 marks the 22nd time Barcelona has hosted the Spanish Grand Prix. Michael Schumacher has been the most successful driver at the circuit, with a total of six victories. Among the other current drivers, Kimi Raikkonen, Fernando Alonso, Sebastian Vettel, Jenson Button, Mark Webber and Felipe Massa have all won there.
Past winners: 2011 - S. Vettel (Red Bull) 2010 - M. Webber (Red Bull) 2009 - J. Button (Brawn) 2008 - K. Raikkonen (Ferrari) 2007 - F. Massa (Ferrari) 2006 - F. Alonso (Renault)
Past pole sitters: 2011 - M. Webber (Red Bull) 2010 - M. Webber (Red Bull) 2009 - J. Button (Brawn) 2008 - K. Raikkonen (Ferrari) 2007 - F. Massa (Ferrari) 2006 - F. Alonso (Renault)
Mercedes has a very narrow operating window. If it is too cold, like in Malaysia, the tyres will not work. If it is too hot, like in Australia, they get too much degradation. A lot of teams need either cooler or warmer conditions, but Mercedes have a window where they work perfectly. That's what they had in China.