Race preview ahead of the Spanish Grand Prix

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Following the rain-soaked Monaco Grand Prix, Formula One teams and drivers made the short trip from Monte Carlo to Barcelona which stages the Spanish Grand Prix, Round 7 of the 2023 FIA Formula One Championship. F1Technical's Balázs Szabó delivers the race guide ahead of the 53rd F1 Spanish Grand Prix.

The track located in Montmelo has been the most frequently visited track on the Formula One calendar with the 4.655km-long track having played host to the pre-season testing as it lies near to the headquarters of the teams and the late Spanish winter usually offers good weather conditions,

Although this status has changed this year with the sport relocating the venue of the pre-season testing from Barcelona to Manama's Bahrain International Circuit.

The first Spanish Grand Prix took place in 1913, but it was not actually run to the Grand Prix formula of the day, but to touring car rules, The race took place on a 300-kilometre road circuit at Guadarrama, near Madrid, on the road to Valladolid. Spain joined Formula One in 1951 when the first Spanish GP was held at Pedralbes. Argentine Juan Manuel Fangio won the event for Alfa Romeo.

The field did not return to Spain in the following two years, but it made its second and last visit to Pedralbes in 1954. Ferrari’s Mike Hawthorn claimed the victory. The sport did not return to Spain until 1967 when Jarama played host to the Spanish GP. Until 1981, the event was a fixture on the calendar with Jarama and Montjuic sharing the role of the hosting country.

In 1986, the Spanish GP appeared again on the calendar and the race has been held continuously since. The following years saw Jerez hosting the race until 1991 when Barcelona took over the rights of holding the Spanish Grand Prix.

Most successful drivers and teams

Michael Schumacher and Lewis Hamilton hold the highest number of race wins in history of the Spanish Grand Prix. The German won on six occasions of which one for Benetton and five for Ferrari. Among the three-time winners are Jackie Stewart, Nigel Mansell, Alain Prost, Mika Häkkinen. Emerson Fittipaldi, Kimi Räikkönen, Fernando Alonso, Mario Andretti and Ayrton Senna all have two Spanish GP victories apiece.

Ferrari are the most successful constructor by far with 12 triumphs. McLaren is second in this list with eight wins while Williams and Mercedes are the third most successful outfits with seven wins apiece.

Track layout

The total race distance on the 4.657km-long track is 307.236km. The start line lies 126m ahead of the finish line. Drivers can drive at a maximum speed of 80km/h in the pit lane in all practice sessions and the race.

A few changes have been implemented to the track with the sport reverting to the previous layout that results in the removal of the final chicane. Instead, cars will take the faster route, rushing through the extremely fast second-to-last corner.

As in the previous years, two DRS zones will be in use. The first has a detection point 86m before Turn 9 and an activation point 40m after. The second detection point is at the Safety Car line, with activation 57m after Turn 16.

The track is known for its high- and medium-speed bends. Following the relatively long start-finish straight, drivers approach the combination of Turn 1 and 2. With this complex featuring a quick change of direction, a reliable and consistent balance is required from the car to dive into Turn 3 that is taken flat out.

With Turn 4, drivers approach the second sector. The following two corners are taken at medium speed where a strong front-end is required. Turn 9 is one of the most exciting bend of the circuit. Drivers are desperate to take it at full speed in qualifying, but they have to be precise both at the entry and the exit because even the slightest mistake or touch on the grass can end in a nasty crash.

The back straight between Turn 9 and 10 features one of the two DRS zones. Overtaking is quite difficult here even with the help of the adjustable rear wing as the straight is quite short. Braking into Turn 10, drivers approach the last section of the circuit. With the track no longer featuring the chicane, the final sector will be completed at higher average speed again.