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PRIXVIEW – Spanish Grand Prix

Round five of the season sees Formula One return to Europe and the Circuit de Barcelona – Catalunya. Barcelona is a circuit which all the teams and drivers know very well thanks to years of testing and mileage around the circuit. Built in the early 1990’s the circuit provides one of the best all-around challenges for teams and drivers.

Built as part of the development for the 1992 Olympic and Paralympic Games, the circuit provides drivers with high speed and downforce ride around the Catalan countryside. The region is one of the wealthiest in the country and is the only region in the world to host three races on three circuits.

This season marks the seventieth anniversary of the regions first Grand Prix, between 1969 and 1975 the race alternated between Circuito del Jarama and the street circuit Montjuïc circuit. Montjuic was a street circuit around the Montjuïc Mountain. Like its predecessors, the modern circuit maintains it speed and challenges for drivers.

The first Spanish Grand Prix was held in 1913 near Madrid, however, Catalunya has been home to motoracing since the 1908 Catalan Cup, these events helped to develop the country love and enthusiasm for racing. The race became part of the pre-war calendar in 1927 before dropping off because of the Wall Street crash before the race returned in 1946.

The first circuit in Barcelona was Pedralbes, holding both the Rhin and Spanish Grand Prix’s but following the Le Mans Disaster of 1955, the Pedralbes Circuit was permanently retired as a racing venue. Spain is one of the best races of the season, Barcelona has been the home to most races since it joined the world championship permanently in 1968.

As F1 got faster it soon outgrew the Montjuic circuit with the circuit becoming dangerous, 1970 was a race that saw Belgian Jacky Ickx and Briton Jackie Oliver get involved in a fiery accident; with Ickx and Oliver escaping with burns. Five years later, disaster struck as Rolf Stommelen’s car crashed when the rear wing broke off, killing four spectators. The race was stopped on the 29th lap and won by Jochen Mass, though only half the points were awarded.

The race then left the region heading to the Spanish capital Madrid then to Jerez in southern Spain. The first race at Jerez saw a furious battle between Ayrton Senna and Nigel Mansell, with the two cars finishing side by side. Senna won by 0.014 seconds—one of F1’s closest finishes.

Barcelona became home to the race for the third time at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, it has become a second home to drivers and fans. The circuit has become more difficult in recent times for set up and overtaking.

The drivers know that the cars can change dramatically, understeer on one part of the circuit in the morning, but suffer oversteer at the same part of the circuit in the afternoon. A given tyre compound can work well when tested, but not so well a couple of months later.

This, however, can mean car control can be difficult as winds blow in from the coast making control of the car difficult, the race, however, is one which drivers struggle to overtake. Mercedes have won nearly every race in Barcelona in the V6 Hybrid era, expect the 2016 race where Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton crashed into each other.

Facts and figures

Round 05 of 21
Race Formula 1 Emirates Gran Premio de Espana 2019
Venue Circuit de Barcelona – Catalunya, Montmeló, Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain
Circuit Length 4.655km (2.892 mi)
Laps 66
Race Distance 307.104 km (190.825 mi)
Lap Record 01:18.441 (Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull – Tag Heuer, 2018) Official

01:16.173 (Lewis Hamilton,  Mercedes, 2018) Qualifying

Most wins drivers Michael Schumacher (6)
Most wins manufacture Ferrari (12)

Fast facts

  • In the ten-year period from 2007-2016, the Spanish Grand Prix was won by ten different drivers! In fact, no current driver has more than two wins to their name at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. Kimi Räikkönen (2005, 2008), Fernando Alonso (2006, 2013) and Lewis Hamilton (2014, 2017).
  • Carlos Sainz Jnr has scored points in every Spanish Grand Prix he has started. He also took the chequered flag before Alonso in each of those.
  • The Circuit de Barcelona – Catalunya is the fifth different venue to host a national Grand Prix in Europe. While the region of Catalonia is the only region of a country to host races on three different circuits but has never held the Grand Prix of Europe.
  • All but three of the last 17 Spanish Grands Prix have been won from pole position. Those three were all in the last seven years, however.
  • Max Verstappen won his first Grand Prix in Barcelona becoming the sports youngest ever race winner and podium finisher, at eighteen years and two hundred and twenty-eight days after winning on his debut for Red Bull in 2016.
  • The circuit is renowned as a true test of a car’s aerodynamic efficiency due to its mixture of corners. With a massive pit straight, long, high-speed corners such as Turn 3 and plenty of medium-speed turns, there is plenty for the drivers to sink their teeth into in Spain

Event timetable

Session

Local

BST

Friday

P1 11:00-12:30 10:00-11:30
P2 15:00-16:30 14:00-15:30

Saturday

P3 12:00-13:00 11:00-12:00
Qualifying 15:00-16:00 14:00-15:00

Sunday

Race 15:10 14:10

What happened in 2018?

Mercedes were on it when F1 arrived back in Europe, as Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas locked out the front row. The first major upgrades for both Mercedes and Ferrari maintained the same level of performance for both teams.

Sebastian Vettel was unable to find enough in the session leaving him four-tenths of Hamilton. Fernando Alonso would his start last home race tenth, at the expense of his teammate Stoffel Vandoorne.

Hamilton went onto dominate the race, thanks to a safety car which allowed him to open up the gap over Vettel. The German jumped Bottas at the start however a safety car saw him lose five seconds to the Mercedes.

Another this time a virtual safety car, brought Verstappen back into the mix. The Dutchman’s season had got off to a bad start, again in Barcelona, his collision with Lance Stroll seem to seriously jeopardise his race from that point.

For the second time, this season and the pattern which would develop Ferrari were in the spotlight after taking Vettel on to a two-stop strategy. They had brought him in behind the VSC and the rest of the top six stayed out.

Vettel re-joined behind Verstappen and was unable to respond to the Red Bull leaving him fourth.

Race Result – 1) L. Hamilton 1:35:29.972, 2) V. Bottas +20.593, 3) M. Verstappen +26.873

What to watch for?

Barcelona is going to be a key test for Ferrari, the team were very strong during pre-season testing. However, in the first four races, Mercedes has emerged stronger in the races and historically in the past five years they have taken wins in four races. Ferrari needs to start showing some pace and they will face much bigger questions.

We know that overtaking on the circuit isn’t the easiest but in recent years, regulation changes in recent years has meant that it has improved in some races. Downforce is very important and teams need a good aero package in the final sector where it is possible to loose a lot of time.

Look at the midfield, in testing, this proved to be a very close battle the question this weekend is whether the upgrades will close the gap between the midfield teams themselves and to Red Bull. Haas needs to make gains on Renault, they have been underperforming both teams as they are in the bottom half of the table. This could be a key weekend in that midfield battle.

2017 v 2018

P1 Fastest

P2 Fastest

P3 Fastest

Q1 Fastest

Q2 Fastest

Q3 Fastest

Race Time

Fastest Lap

2018

01:18.148 01:18.259 01:17.281 01:17.031 01:17.071 01:16.173 01:35:29.972 01:18.441

Diff

-3.373 -3.543 -3.071 -2.520 -3.261 -3.036 +22.525 -5.152

2017

01:21.521 01:21.802 01:20.214 01:20.511 01:20.210 01:19.149 01:35:56.497 01:23.593

A lap of Barcelona L. Hamilton 01:16.173

Lewis Hamilton comes out of Catalunya goes to the outside of the track getting one side of the car onto the kerb before lining up to run along the outside of the track. Carries the speed all the way down to Turn One, breaks at the 100m board. Turns in hitting the apex of One, setting him up for Two where he takes it around the apex setting himself up for the long Turn Three. Goes to the outside, before breaking into the long Repsol corner.

On exit he goes to the outside of the circuit before crossing to lining himself up for Five, round the apex before going to the outside hitting the kerb as he opens up the car. Speeds through Six, before going to inside approaching TV3. Breaks into the corner, speeds on exit and through eight where he goes to the outside. Slows slightly through Nine, runs to the outside.

Build speed before breaking a 100M before La Casa, turns in before hitting the apex and runs to the inside. Breaks slightly through Eleven and goes to the apex for Twelve, before running along the kerb breaks slightly into Europcar weaves his way down to Fourteen. Hits kerb then on the exit of fifteen opens the car up before going back through Catalunya and across the line with a 01:16.173

Tyres

Driver

Team

Red Soft (C3)

Yellow Medium (C2)

White Hard (C1)

L. Hamilton

Mercedes 8 3 2
V. Bottas 8 4

1

S. Vettel

Ferrari 9 3 1
C. Leclerc 9 2

2

M. Verstappen

Red Bull – Honda 7 4 2
P. Gasly 7 4

2

D. Riccardo

Renault 9 3 1
N. Hulkenberg 9 2

2

K. Magnussen

Haas – Ferrari 8 4 1
R. Grosjean 8 3

2

C. Sainz Jr

McLaren – Renault 8 2 3
L. Norris 8 2

3

S. Perez

Racing Point –Mercedes 8 3 2

L. Stroll

8 3

2

K. Raikkonen

Alfa Romeo – Ferrari 9 3 1
A. Giovinazzi 9 2

2

D. Kvyat

Toro Rosso –Honda 8 4 1
A. Albon 8 3

2

G. Russell

Williams –Mercedes 7 5 1
R. Kubica 7 4

2

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Jack Fielding
Jack is responsible for the day-to-day running of Formula One Vault. He brings you all the brilliant content. Has an obsession with all things Formula One and anything with an engine.
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