Formula One Spanish Grand Prix Barcelona
The History of the Spanish Grand Prix
The first Spanish Grand Prix in 1913 was not actually run to the Grand Prix formula of the day, but to touring car rules, taking place on a 300-kilometre road circuit at Guadarrama, near Madrid, on the road to Valladolid.
Motor racing events had taken place in Spain prior to that – the most notable among them being the Catalan Cup of 1908 and 1909, on roads around Sitges, near Barcelona. Both of these events were won by Jules Goux, establishing a strong racing tradition in Catalonia, which has continued to this day. This enthusiasm for racing led to the plan to build a permanent track at Sitges – a 2-kilometre (1.2 mi) oval which became known as Sitges-Terramar, and was the site of the 1923 Spanish Grand Prix.
After this first race, the track fell into financial difficulties, and the organizers had to look for another venue. In 1926, the Spanish Grand Prix moved to Circuito Lasarte on the northern coast, home of the main race in Spain during the twenties – the San Sebastián Grand Prix. The 1927 Spanish Grand Prix was part of the AIACR World Manufacturers Championship, but the race was still not established and in 1928 and 1929 was run to sports car regulations.
The 1930 Spanish Grand Prix for sports cars, scheduled for July 27, was cancelled due to the bad economic situation following the Wall Street crash in October 1929. The 1931 and 1932 Spanish Grands Prix were also announced, only to be cancelled due to political and economical difficulties. Finally, in 1933 the Spanish Grand Prix was revived at Lasarte with government backing.
Following the 1935 race, Spain descended into civil war and racing stopped. In 1946, racing returned to Spain in the form of the Penya Rhin Grand Prix at the Pedralbes Circuit in Barcelona.
Spain did not return to the international calendar until 1951, joining the list of races of the Formula One championship, on the Pedralbes Circuit. In 1955, a terrible accident at the 24 Hours of Le Mans resulted in regulations governing spectator safety, and the pedestrian-lined street track at Pedralbes was dropped from the racing calendar.
In the 1960s, Spain made a bid to return to the world of international motor racing – the Royal Automobile Club of Spain commissioned a new circuit north of Madrid at Jarama, and Cataluña refurbished their circuit at Montjuïc circuit in Barcelona. A non-championship Grand Prix took place at Jarama in 1967, which was won by Jim Clark racing in a Lotus.
In 1968, Jarama hosted the Spanish Grand Prix, near the beginning of the F1 season. It was agreed, following this event, that the race would alternate between Jarama and Montjuich.
The 1975 Grand Prix at Montjuich was marked by tragedy. There had been concerns about track safety during practice races, and double-winner Emerson Fittipaldi retired in protest after a single lap. On the 26th lap of the race, Rolf Stommelens car crashed when the rear wing broke off, killing four spectators. The race was stopped later and won by Jochen Mass, though only half the points were awarded.
The Spanish Grand Prix was confined to Jarama until 1981, after which it was dropped from the racing calendar. In 1985, the Mayor of Jerez commissioned a new racing circuit in his town to promote tourism and sherries. The track, the Circuito Permanente de Jerez, was finished in time for the 1986 championship, which saw a furious battle between Ayrton Senna and Nigel Mansell, with the two cars finishing side by side. The stewards awarded the win to Senna, by 0.014 seconds – one of F1s closest finishes.
The 1990 Spanish Grand Prix was the last in Jerez (although Jerez did stage the European Grand Prix in 1994 and 1997). During the practice, Martin Donnells car was destroyed in a high-speed collision, and Donnelly was severely injured.
Work on the Circuit de Catalunya was underway in Barcelona, and in 1991, the event moved to this new track, where it has remained since. The 1992 event was advertised as the Grand Prix of the Olympic Games. Since that race the race has been held in early season, usually in late April or early May.
The Williamses dominated the first outings there, taking all victories until 1994. Michael Schumacher has won a total of six times, including his 1996 victory in heavy rain, which was his first for Ferrari. Mika Häkkinen took three victories and was on road for fourth in 2001 before his car failed on the last lap.
Since 2003 the race has been well attended thanks to success of Fernando Alonso. Alonso finished second in 2003 and 2005 before taking victory in 2006.
Circuit de Catalunya Barcelona
The Circuit de Catalunya was built in 1991 and is often referred to as ‘Barcelona’ in the racing community, despite the fact that it is located in Montmeló. The Circuit de Catalunya should not be confused with the Montjuïc circuit, which hosted the Spanish Grand Prix four times between 1969 and 1975 and, unlike the Circuit de Catalunya, is actually located within the city of Barcelona.
Because so much testing is done at this circuit, Formula One drivers and mechanics are extremely familiar with it. This has led to criticism that drivers and mechanics are too familiar with Catalunya, reducing the amount of on-track action.
Location of Circuit de Catalunya Barcelona
The Circuit de Catalunya is 20km north of Barcelona. The best way of getting there by public transport from Barcelona is to take a local train (cercanias) from any of the following three stations: Sants, Passeig de Gràcia or El Clot. The train will be going to Macanet-Massanes but you must get off at Montmeló. You can see on the map below that Montmeló is on the green number 2 line, 5 stops after El Clot.
There are trains every 30 minutes and the journey takes about 40 minutes. A transfer will be available from the Montmeló train station to the Circuit de Catalunya as the walk is about 30 minutes.
If you are coming from Girona you should take take a RENFE train on line 2 heading for Barcelona and get off at Montmeló. The journey takes about one hour.