The Circuit de Catalunya is the fifth different venue to host the Spanish Grand Prix, after Pedralbes, Montjuich Park, Jarama and Jerez. The track was built in a suburb of Barcelona during the run-up to the city’s 1992 Olympic Games – during which it played host to some cycling events – and it hosted its first Formula One race in September ’91.
The track has a mix of fast and slow corners, which makes it a comprehensive workout for cars and drivers. Over the years it’s become a favourite test track of the teams, and two of this year’s three pre-season test sessions were staged at the venue.
In the past, this race has provided an accurate barometer of form for the rest of the season, but don’t expect much overtaking at the front. Between 2008 and 2010, there was an average of two passing manoeuvres per race... “We expect it to be different this year due to DRS,” says Mark Webber.
The asphalt is especially abrasive, which has ramifications for race strategy. A three-stop strategy is most likely, but four stops won the race for Seb Vettel last year.
Lap length: 4.655km
Race distance: 307.104km
Start time: 1400 (local)
Full throttle: 53%
Downforce level: High
Gearchanges per lap: 40
Top speed: 305km/h
Tyre compounds: hard / soft
Overtaking places: Turns 1 and 10
2011 winner: Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull Racing)
2011 pole: Mark Webber (Red Bull Racing)
Lap record: Kimi Raikkonen, 1m21.670s (205.121km/h) in 2008
Mark Webber’s best result in Spain: 1st
Sebastian Vettel’s best result in Spain: 1st
Daniel Ricciardo’s best result in Spain: N/A
Jean-Eric Vergne’s best result in Spain: N/A