Spanish Grand PrixView

By on Thursday, May 7, 2015
Sahara Force India

Sahara Force India

Formula 1 is back in action this weekend with the fifth round of the Championship, after a three-week break following the previous race in Bahrain. The Formula 1 paddock moves now to Europe and will remain there until September, bar the obligatory trans-Atlantic trip to Canada.

The European season will start in Spain at one of the most familiar venues for the drivers due to pre-season testing predominantly taking place at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. Plenty of data was gathered back in February and March but times have moved on since those winter days.

The Spanish Grand Prix usually acts as a performance guide for the remaining races and it is said that if a car performs well here it will be adaptable to any of the upcoming tracks. This is also the place where teams introduce major car upgrades in order to close the gap to the cars in front, something which can lead to an exciting weekend.

The circuit

This will be the 45th Spanish GP to date as the event has joined the Formula 1 calendar back in 1951, with races being held at Pedralbes, Jarama, Montjuic Park, Jerez and Catalunya. The Spanish Grand Prix moved to its current location in 1991 and has hosted the event since.

Williams Martini Racing

Williams Martini Racing

Located to the North of Barcelona, the track has hosted some epic battles and big surprises through the years. Nigel Mansell and Ayrton Senna wheel-to-wheel battle at the 1991 Spanish Grand Prix, Michael Schumacher’s first win for Ferrari in 1996 or Pastor Maldonado’s surprise win for Williams in 2012 are just some of the memorable events here.

"The Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya is a great place to kick off the European season and a fun circuit to race on, with long straights, high-speed corners and tricky chicanes that require you to get the most out of the car throughout the whole lap. It really challenges the car and you need good balance and aerodynamic downforce to get the best consistency, and, ultimately, performance," says McLaren’s Jenson Button.

The Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya is a technical track which tests every element of the car, especially the aero package, but also requires a good downforce for its high-speed corners, as well as strong traction for the slow ones. The biggest challenge will be to find a set-up on which the drivers will be able to set good lap times without destroying the tyres.

"We all know the Barcelona track really well. You have to think about how to approach a lap because it’s important to look after your tyres. If you take too much out of them in the first sector, you end up paying the price in the final one, so finding the right balance is the key. The first two sectors are fairly straightforward and they are the quickest sections of the track, while the final part of the lap is more technical and low speed," says Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg.

"As a whole, there is a nice mix of different corners which makes this a very interesting circuit. Overtaking has always been difficult there, even with the introduction of the slow chicane at the end of the lap. The final corner is still fairly quick and it's difficult to follow another car closely. You have to lift to avoid running wide, and that usually takes away the opportunity for overtaking into Turn 1."

The race

Lotus F1 Team

Lotus F1 Team

Lewis Hamilton comes to Barcelona with a 27 point lead over his team-mate Nico Rosberg, having won three of the four rounds of the 2015 season. Mercedes has a strong lead in the Constructors’ Standings with 52 points over Ferrari.

Catalunya is a special track for Fernando Alonso as this is the place where he became the first Spaniard to win on home soil in 2006. His last win came at the same track in 2013, a performance which is unlikely to be repeated this season due to McLaren’s reliability problems. Of the drivers on the grid, only Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen have scored more than one win in Barcelona.

The track is quite demanding for the tyres and because of the warmer temperatures, the tyre degradation is expected to be quite high. Pirelli will bring its hardest compounds - Hard and Medium - for this race and expects a two-stop strategy from most of the teams.

The two DRS zones at Catalunya will be on the back and main straights.

With overtaking being difficult here, the track position will be very important on Sunday. Only twice the race has been won from a starting position lower than the front row. Kimi Raikkonen is the only driver on the grid to score multiple pole positions in Barcelona.

Facts and stats

Circuit length: 4.655 km

Turns: 16 (9 right, 7 left)

Direction: clockwise

Race laps: 66

Top speed: 335 km/h

Gear changes: 58/lap

First Grand Prix: 1991, won by Nigel Mansell (Williams)

Lap record: 1:21.670 (Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, 2008)

Lowest starting position for a winner: 5 (Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, 2013)

Wins from pole: 18

Most pole positions: Michael Schumacher (7)

Most wins (driver): Michael Schumacher (6)

Most wins (constructor): Ferrari (12)

2014 Qualifying: Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)

2014 Race: 1. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes), 2. Nico Rosberg (Mercedes), 3. Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull)

Timetable (GMT +2):

Friday 8 May

  • Practice One: 10:00 – 11:30
  • Practice Two: 14:00 – 15:30

Saturday 9 May

  • Practice Three: 12:00 – 13:00
  • Qualifying: 14:00 (60 minutes)

Sunday 10 May

  • Race: 14:00 (66 laps or two hours)


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