Spanish Grand Prix – Preview

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Formula One is about to kick off its European season with the forthcoming venue, the Catalunya race track. As usual, the popular test circuit might turn into a festival of introduction of new development parts.

The Spanish Grand Prix is one of the oldest races on the calendar, celebrating its centenary in 2013 and holding a regular slot on the Formula One World Championship schedule since 1968 at a variety of venues.

History

The Spanish Grand Prix has a long history. The first ever event which bore this name was the 1913 race. It was, however, not actually run to the GP formula of the day, but to touring car rules. It took place at Guadarrama and was won by the Rolls-Royce team. Between the two world wars, there were eight Grand Prix, taking place in Sitges-Terramar, then at Lasarte.

It was not until 1951 that Spain returned to the international race calendar. That year marked Spain’s first ever Formula One race which took place in Pedralbes and was won by Alfa Romeo’s Juan Manuel Fangio. After a two-year-long break, the same venue gave place to the second F1 Spanish GP which was mastered by Ferrari’s Mike Hawthorn.

Between 1967 and 1981, Jarama and Montjuic hosted alternately the Spanish GP. In 1986, the GP moved to the newly built Jerez circuit which hosted five races before passing on this role to the Barcelona track.

Built as part of the development programme for the 1992 Olympic Games, the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya completed in time for the 1991 Spanish Grand Prix and has been a feature of the Formula One calendar ever since.

The most successful drivers and teams

Ferrari dominantly stands out with the most wins over the course of the Spanish GP history. The Scuderia has secured 12 triumphs so far. McLaren and Williams share on the second position with their 8-8 wins. Lotus won six times while both the Mercedes and the Red Bull squad have three wins.

Among the drivers, Michael Schumacher is the absolute king of the Spanish GP. THe seven-time world champion crossed the line first a mesmerizing six times. Mika Häkkinen, Alain Prost, Nigel Mansell, Jackie Stewart all have three wins to their names. Kimi Räikkönen, Fernando Alonso, Lewis Hamilton, Ayrton Senna, Mario Andretti and Emerson Fittipaldi managed to win the Spanish GP on two occasions.

The country

Spain, officially the Kingdom of Spain is a country mostly located on the Iberian Peninsula in Europe. The country's mainland is bordered to the south and east by the Mediterranean Sea, to the north and northeast by France, Andorra, and the Bay of Biscay; and to the west and northwest by Portugal and the Atlantic Ocean. There are 5 large mountain ranges which cross the country and about 50% of the land lies considerably higher than sea level. The sceneries vary from almost desert-like to a fertile and green land and of course there are the long coastal strips The country has a total area of 505990km2, the population is made up by 46354321 million habitants, most of them living in the cities or along the Costa's.

The official language is Spanish; Catalan, Galician, Basque and Occitan are the co-official languages. 89.9 per cent of the habitants are Spanish. This can be very confusing at times, because in Cataluña and Basque Country many people consider their dialect the main language. On schools sometimes the regional language is taught as the first language, wih Spanish as a second one. Roadsigns are often first in Basqe or Catalan and only then in the Spanish language in these autonomous regions.

According to 2017 surveys, 68 per cent of the habitants are Roman Catholic while 27 per cent are irreligious.

The Kingdom of Spain is a constitutional monarchy, Felipe VI is the monarch, Mariano Rajoy is the prime minister of the country.

Flora and fauna in Spain have a typical Mediterranean character. Most common trees are the oak, chestnut, birch and the beech tree. The fauna has some African elements (chameleon, mongoose and others), which slowly penetrate into the north. Big mammals are: the brown bear, wolf, lynx, feral cat, wild boar, red deer, roe deer, Spanish ibex and chamois, although some of these species have become quite rare. There is a great variety in birdlife: the stork and several sorts of large birds of prey are still common in a lot of areas.

Track characteristics

The latest edition of the track has a length of 4.655km. The 66 laps add a total of 307.104km race distance. The lap record of 1:21.670 was registered in 2008 and was set by Ferrari’s Kimi Räikkönen.

The GP configuration of the circuit consists of 16 turns, of which most are middle- and high-speed corners, but the track also has a very slow corner and a slow chicane, making the track a real test of car balance. Previously, the track was a proper high-speed circuit with lots of brutally quick corners, but recent changes to the track prompted by the safety factor made the GP configuration significantly slower.

The distance from the pole position to the first turn is 739.5m which means the start offers overtaking opportunities. Drivers have to travel 367.1m, 16.5 seconds long at the pit lane speed limit of 80kph, excluding the tyre change time.

Drivers apply the brakes 7 time during the lap, of which two occasions deem to be heavy braking actions. Power units work 51 per cent of the lap under maximum throttle input. Fuel consumption is not critical at this track as it does not have a stop-and-go nature.

Pirelli will bring the trio of medium, soft and supersoft tyres, of which all are changed after the request of Mercedes. The outer surface was decreased by 0.4mm after the Mercedes team experienced overheating woes during the pre-season testing.