The F1 Travel Guide : Circuit de Catalunya, Barcelona, Spain

The Circuit de Catalunya, home to the Spanish Grand Prix is the first European race on the F1 Calendar. It is also the race where teams bring in major upgrades from their factories all over Europe. The circuit also hosts the 2 tests held over the winter break ( pre-season testing ) before the start of a new F1 season. 

Moto GP races are also held here, albeit in a slightly different configuration. 

The circuit is a true test for any racer, be it on two wheels or four. Shortcomings, if any, are all revealed here! 

I had the privilege of seeing Max Verstappen won his first race ( on debut ) with Red Bull Racing ( youngest race winner in F1 )(  in 2016 ) after the Mercedes duo of Lewis Hamilton & Nico Rosberg took each other out on the opening lap. Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel completed a double podium for Ferrari that day

The race in 2017 had a more disappointing outcome for the Iceman but he won the hearts of one and all by meeting the 6-year-old Thomas Danel, the kid who was shown weeping trackside after Raikkonen's retirement due to a collision in the race.


My experience from 2017 is shared here :

https://tech-know-crat.posthaven.com/a-gallery-of-memories-part-13

https://tech-know-crat.posthaven.com/paddock-club-diares-2017-spanish-grand-prix-day-1

https://tech-know-crat.posthaven.com/paddock-club-diares-2017-spanish-grand-prix-day-2

https://tech-know-crat.posthaven.com/paddock-club-diares-2017-spanish-grand-prix-day-3



The Circuit Layout :



Official Website :

https://www.circuitcat.com/en/



Location :

The Circuit is located in the town of Montmelo, about 30 km from Barcelona. Built by the legendary circuit designer Herman Tilke, the race is considered one of the biggest sporting events on the nation's calendar. Its one of the easiest circuits to get to, one reason being its proximity to a big city and other being the ease of access via road, rail and even air! The sunny Mediterranean weather also makes a visit to the circuit quite appealing!


Closest Airports :

Barcelona El-Prat International Airport ( BCN ) is the nearest airport to the circuit and caters to a plethora of European low cost, Transatlantic and other International Carriers. Iberia Airlines, the nation's national carrier also offers multiple connections from their base in Madrid. It is the airport of choice for almost all visitors!

Emirates offers multiple services from Dubai to Barcelona every day.

My Emirates Flight Experience ( latest ) from Mumbai to Barcelona is shared here :


The city of Barcelona is also well connected by road and rail to other major European cities, the latter being used by many fans.



Where to Stay :

The accommodation options in Montmelo, be it Airbnb or Hotels are sold out quite early in the year. Most rates are non-refundable and a premium is charged over the race weekend. It is best to stay in the city of Barcelona. Barcelona has a wide range of accommodation on offer from Airbnb & Budget Hotels to ultra-luxurious properties like the Hotel Arts or The W. I recommend staying in areas like Avinguda Diagonal ( have stayed at the Novotel & Hilton ) or Via Laietana which are pretty lively and offer great options for shopping and dining. Many F1 teams stay in the Diagonal area with McLaren having their Annual Gala Dinner on a Saturday evening in the city! 


There is never a dull evening in the city. Some fans opt to stay in the town of Girona which is further away, more peaceful and gives visitors a glimpse of life and architecture during the Medieval time.

There are multiple camping options near the track as well.


Circuit Access :

The Circuit is well connected by road, rail and air! The commute is pretty brisk and everything functions like a well-oiled machine every year.

One can refer to this link to explore the various options of commute :


By Road :

Taxis are readily available in Barcelona city and the commute time is about 40 minutes to the circuit. Those with VIP Passes get the option of a drop off right at the Paddock Club Entry, Paddock Access gates; one of the few circuits which offer such a privilege. There are other taxi drop-off points all over the circuit too and one must be prepared to queue in the evenings for the return journey. There is Uber as well, surge pricing applicable.

Many fans use a car hire service ( readily available at the city or airport ); its advisable to get a parking pass in the area closer to the selected grandstand. Thankfully there is ample parking space at the circuit.

Sagales offers Bus Services from Barcelona City Centre to the circuit. Price of the return ticket is about 12 Euros per day and tickets can be booked on https://www.sagales.com/en 

Commute time is about 50 minutes but can get long on a Sunday morning and Evening.

There are also shuttle buses plying from Montmelo Station to the Circuit.


By Rail :

Spain has one of the best rail networks of Europe and is the preferred mode of commute for most of the fans over the race weekend. There are connections from both Barcelona and Girona to Montmelo Station from where one can either walk to the circuit ( a 30-minute walk ) or opt for a shuttle bus which drops off fans at the circuit entrance near Turn 1. 


From Barcelona : 

Hop on to the Rodalies Line R2 Nord ( Green line ) bound for Granollers Centre from Barcelona Sants or Passeig de Gracia or El-Clot Arago Stations and alight at Montemelo Station.

More Information on the Line with the stops: https://www.barcelonas.com/rodalies-r2-nord.html


From Girona :

Hop on to the Roadlies Line R11 ( Blue ) bound for Barcelona and switch to the R2 or R8 line for Montmelo at Granollers Centre Station.


Single Day and Multi-day return journey tickets are available on http://rodalies.gencat.cat/en/inici/



By Air :

Arrive in Style aboard a Helicopter, a commuting method used by the rich and famous throughout the weekend. Its an experience of a lifetime offered by almost all hospitality partners of the sport.



F1 Village, Fan Zones :

The F1 Village, situated behind the Main Grandstand has gone through a major revamp. Fans can purchase their favourite team gear from the respective merchandising outlets or even the Official F1 Store. Prices are more or less on par with other circuits of Europe. 
The Avinguda dels Campions which has Plaques of World Championship winning racers ( on 2 wheels and 4 ) is also located in the village.
Competitions such as the Pit Stop Challenge, Batak Challenge and the Simulator races run throughout the weekend with prizes ranging from Paddock Passes, Hospitality experiences on Sunday or goodie bags.
There is also a stage erected in the F1 Village where Drivers' and Team Principals' appearances happen on Friday and Saturday ( in the evening ).
There are smaller merchandising and food outlets located behind other grandstands as well. The quality and the variety of food on offer is pretty poor. Thankfully, fans are allowed to bring food and drink into the track. Alcohol and Canned Drinks are banned.



Fan Experiences :

3 Day ticket holders are eligible for Pit Lane Walks on Thursdays.  A Drivers' Autograph Session is also planned at the same time.

Like Suzuka in Japan, fans can enjoy views of the circuit from various grandstands, known as "Free Friday".
There is also a track run organised on Saturday evening. Details would be shared by the circuit organisers on their official website.
There is trackside commentary in English, French, Spanish and Catalan on the local radio. 

Most of the Stands are uncovered, so it is advisable to wear protective headgear.

VIP Guests, Paddock Club Guests and Celebrities can purchase a Pirelli Hot Laps Experience ( pricing dependent on the type of car and the day ). 
F1 Experiences offers fans the opportunity of a Guided Paddock Tour or a Guided Track Tour on a Parade Truck or a Guided Pit Lane Tour or a Photo Opportunity on the Podium with the Race Winning Trophies.

More Information about the same is available here: https://f1experiences.com/2021-spanish-grand-prix

I also recommend visiting "PortAventura World", a theme park complex approximately 100 km from Barcelona featuring 3 Theme Parks - PortAventura Park, Caribe Aquatic Park and Ferrari Land!

Ferrari Land is a must-visit on the Wednesday of the race week since the Scuderia Ferrari F1 team host an event there with their F1 drivers!


More Info Available here: https://www.portaventuraworld.com/en


One can also drive around the "Montjuic Circuit" which is in Barcelona and used to be the venue for racing for Moto GP and F1 in the 1970s. It was also the only circuit to see a female driver score Championship points.




Circuit de Catalunya has a charm of its own. Many fans prefer this over other classic tracks on the calendar. The sunny weather, proximity to a big metropolitan, ease of commute, great views from every grandstand gives it a different vibe altogether. It is been 3 years since I last visited this historical track..hopefully in 2021!!


A Gallery of Memories - Part 14

The Latest post in the "Gallery of Memories" comes in from the Legendary Track of Spa Francorchamps in the Ardennes region of Belgium. I got the opportunity of attending the Belgian Grand Prix in the final week of August and it was a great experience!


Once again I had the privilege of meeting celebrities and the tradition began from the day I flew out of Mumbai Airport bound for Brussels International.


A Quick trip down memory lane!


Bollywood Actress Parineeti Chopra :


Bollywood Music Director Anu Malik :


Bollywood Actress & Comedian Sugandha Mishra :


Marc Gene, Scuderia Ferrari F1 Team Development Driver :


Mattia Binotto, Chief Technical Officer of Scuderia Ferrari F1 Team :


Riccardo Adami, Sebastian Vettel's Race Engineer :


Federica Masolin, Sky Sports F1 Italia Hostess :


Jacques Villeneuve, Former F1 Champion and Expert on Sky Sports F1 Italia :


The Jovial trio, Martin Brundle, Damon Hill & Paul Di Resta of Sky Sports F1! Stay blessed guys!


Pat Symonds, Ex Williams and Sky Sports F1 co-presenter :


Mark Webber, Fan moment here with the AussieGrit!


Jock Clear, Scuderia Ferrari F1 team :


Niki Lauda!


The Professor! Alain Prost! What a gentleman!


Pierre Gasly, Red Bull Racing F1 Team Reserve Driver :


Maurizio Arrivabene, Scuderia Ferrari F1 Team Principal :


Not the selfie I wanted but nonetheless, Kimi Raikkonen!


Gino Rosato, Scuderia Ferrari F1 :


A Moment with Seb's P2 Trophy :


Massimo Rivola, Scuderia Ferrari Academy Supremo :


Giuliano Alesi, Jean Alesi's son & Scuderia Ferrari Academy Driver in GP3 :


Mark Arnall and Kimi's Partner in Ice One Racing ( Motocross ) :


Silvia Hoffer, McLaren F1 Team PR and one of the oldest faces in the paddock :


MOKO!!


Daniil Kvyat, Scuderia Toro Rosso F1 Team :


Sir Franz Tost, Team Principal, Scuderia Toro Rosso F1 Team :


Carlos Sainz, Scuderia Toro Rosso F1 Team :


It was a memorable weekend in Spa and I would like to thank Scuderia Ferrari F1 Team for the Hospitality and the graciousness shown to me over the weekend. A big thank you to Edge Global Events for ensuring nothing was out of place and ensuring that I had an enjoyable weekend.


Apologies for the delay, Paddock Club Experiences coming thick and fast!

Paddock Club Diares - 2017 Spanish Grand Prix - Day 3

A glorious Sunday Morning, the weather seemed perfect for a day of Racing. I had a relaxed start to the day and I decided to skip the Paddock Club Truck Tour Opportunity! Need to train myself to be an early riser!

Love the view from my room!


Enroute to the Circuit :


The Paddock on Sunday Morning :


FIA Formula 2 Sprint Race is the second event on Sunday Morning after Race 2 for GP3. Shots from the Starting Grid.


FIA Formula 2 Sprint Race Formation Lap ( Video Link ) :

 

FIA Formula 2 Sprint Race Start ( Video Link ) :

 


Shots from the FIA Formula 2 Sprint Race on Sunday :


Safety Car - FIA Formula 2 Sprint Race ( Video Link ) :

 


Race Restart after Safety Car - FIA Formula 2 Sprint Race ( Video Link ) :



Maurizio Arrivabene visited us in the Ferrari F1 Club to share his expectations before the race. An amazing person! Great to have him as the Team Principal :


I won the Raffles Draw and got a Keyplate autographed by Maurizio Arrivabene! Finally I won in the Raffles!


Maurizio Arrivabene Interview in Ferrari F1 Club ( Video Link ) :



Ferrari preponed the Timing for Sebastian Vettel to visit the Ferrari F1 Club and I missed him! Huge disappointment for me!


Paul Hembery, Pirelli Motorsport Director comes in for a quick Q&A in the Ferrari F1 Club Suite :


Photos from the Pit Lane Walk on Sunday before the race :


Scuderia Ferrari F1 getting ready :


Photos with the GoPro :


Paddock Club Parking is never short of stunning Ferraris :


Lunch! A Quick bite, hard to eat as the tension rises!


Prepping up for the Grid Presentation :


Pit Lane Open and time for some sighting laps :


Team Personnel make it to the grid :


Celebrities on the Grid :


Drivers being interviewed as they make it to the grid :


Scuderia Ferrari F1 on the Grid :


Its Time to climb into your machines boys!


Counting down the Clock to the Formation Lap :


Team Personnel make a run for the pits as the cars head out for the Formation lap :


Formation Lap, Shot with Sony HX400V ( Video Link ) :



Formation Lap, Shot with Samsung Note 5 ( Video Link ) :



FIA Race Director Charlie Whiting getting ready to switch on the 5 Red Lights :


Cars line up on the grid for the Race Start :


Race Start, Shot with Sony HX400V ( Video Link ) :



Race Start, Shot with Samsung Note 5 ( Video Link ) :



Shots from the Race :


Sebastian Vettel Pit-Stop ( Video Link ) :

 


Sergio Perez Pit-Stop ( Video Link ) :



Chequered Flag :


Chequered Flag is waved ( Video Link ) :



TV Crews busy with Initial Reactions, Post Race.


Cars returning to Parc Ferme :


Kimi Raikkonen suffered retirement thanks to a shunt by Max Verstappen and Valtteri Bottas. Lewis Hamilton won an eventful race with Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo completing the podium.

Post Race I got have a chat with the antagonist of Transformers Age of Extinction and Veteran actor Mr. Kelsey Grammer who was extremely friendly!

Hollywood Celebrity Kelsey Grammer!


Sebastian Vettel's 2nd place trophy, a pleasant surprise to bring Vettel's trophy upstairs!


Arjun Maini! GP3 Race 2 Winner and an Indian! It was a blessed time chatting with him and Michael Reedy, his driver coach!


The Hosts of Pirelli for the weekend :


The Hosts at the Ferrari F1 Club :


With my friends from Renault Sport F1 Team :


Walking around in the support area as I make my way to the Paddock Entrance :


Art Work, Murals of the Drivers :