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2021 Spanish GP Race Recap : Strategy is King in the Clash of the Centurions!

Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, the home of the Spanish GP, has been a regular feature on the F1 calendar. The circuit returned to its original hosting date in May ( 1st week ) in 2021. It completed the first of double-headers of the European leg, the track hosting an F1 race just a weekend after entertaining bikes from the Moto GP world. 



The Hamilton-Verstappen and Mercedes-Red Bull tussles promised to be a feature throughout 2021, and fans hoped to see these giants exchange blows in Spain again. It was Red Bull who struck the first blow before the start of the race weekend. Honda, the engine supplier for Red Bull, leaves the sport at the end of 2021. Red Bull has taken steps since the winter break to become a full-works team, adding powertrain manufacturing and development besides chassis designing. Their quest to strengthen the powertrain department led them to poach another five senior members from the Mercedes HPP team in the week leading into the Spanish GP. It will be interesting to see how big a difference these moves would make.



Ferrari and McLaren, like the leaders, also had a strong start in the battle for 3rd in the Constructors. The two most iconic teams in F1 hoped to continue their journey of returning to the sharp end of the grid, bringing back the glory years of the 1990s and the 2000s.




Circuit de Catalunya is a track that can amplify weaknesses in a car if any. Overtaking opportunities aren't many, which meant that strategies would play a part in the race. 

The circuit organisers had revamped the off-camber turn 10 for a more streamlined one for 2021, so there were reservations about grip levels on the new asphalt. The FIA also introduced a new procedure of rejoining the track ( after passing two bollards ) for those who exceeded track limits at turns one and two.



So who took the Chequered Flag and victory on Sunday in Catalunya? 


Time for a quick recap!



Practice :


Robert Kubica got the opportunity to participate in FP1 for Alfa Romeo. This time, it was Kimi Raikkonen who sat out of FP1. Williams did the same with George Russell, reserve driver Roy Nissany stepping in for FP1 duty. Nikita Mazepin suffered a spin and had a trip through the gravel early on in the session, while Vettel lost a piece of his front wing while going over the kerbs at turn seven. The new turn 10 claimed its first victim in Kubica, who got spun around and beached in the gravel. The Polish driver didn't take further part in the session and brought out the red flags. 


Bottas topped the timesheets at the end of FP1 and could have gone faster had it not been for a Ferrari getting in the crosshairs on his flying lap ( with soft tyres ). Verstappen was three-hundredths shy of Bottas' time with Hamilton a further tenth adrift. Only half a second separated the top 6, with Norris setting the 4th quickest time, followed by the Ferraris of Leclerc and Sainz. Gasly was 7th in his Alpha Tauri while Perez separated the Aston Martins of Vettel and Stroll in 9th.


Tsunoda set the 11th quickest time in the other Alpha Tauri while Ocon was the faster of the two Alpines in P12. Giovinazzi continued to impress in the Alfa Romeo with 13th, while Ricciardo and Alonso managed 14th and 15th. Four-tenths separated Nissany from Latifi in P17, while Kubica split the Haas cars of Schumacher and Mazepin.




The kerbs at the circuit are unforgiving, as experienced by Sainz, Tsunoda and Verstappen, who suffered bodywork damage or electronic hiccups during FP2. Meanwhile, in the pits, Raikkonen averted Mazepin, who got released out of the garage into his path. The Finn overtook the Russian at the pit exit, not too pleased with the incident. It was Hamilton who set the quickest time of FP2 from Bottas and Leclerc. The Alpine cars had a productive FP2, with Ocon and Alonso going 4th and 5th fastest, followed by the Alpha Tauris of Gasly and Tsunoda. Sainz was 8th in the other Ferrari, followed by the Red Bulls of Verstappen and Perez. 


Vettel managed 11th in the Aston Martin, while Norris and Giovinazzi led the team-mate battle at McLaren and Alfa Romeo in 12th and 13th. Stroll was 14th in the other Aston Martin, followed by Ricciardo and Raikkonen, who were more than a second slower than Hamilton's time. The Williams of Russell and Latifi 17th and 18th, followed by the Haas cars of Schumacher and Mazepin.




Mercedes ruled the roost at the end of Friday, but Red Bull wasn't far behind in race simulation pace. Perez was struggling to find his feet, and that remained a cause for concern at Red Bull. Ferrari and Alpine also had a productive Friday. Aston Martin had brought in upgrades, and they were bullish about their chances of making it into Q3 on Saturday. The presence of support races meant that track would evolve as more rubber got laid, making Qualifying a closely contested affair.




The Alpine drivers opted for new exhaust units ( out of the allocation of eight ) on Saturday. FP3 got underway with the Ferraris topping the timesheets early on in the session. Norris had a trip across the gravel at turn ten while Raikkonen suffered a rear right puncture after a kerb camera got undone from its housing. 


Verstappen went the quickest, more than two-tenths clear of Hamilton at the end of FP3. The Ferraris of Leclerc and Sainz managed to bag 3rd and 4th ahead of Bottas. Gasly split the McLarens of Norris and Ricciardo in 7th while Raikkonen jumped into the top 10 ( 9th ) in his Alfa Romeo, ahead of Perez. 


The Alpines of Alonso and Ocon were P11 and P13, with Tsunoda splitting the duo in his Alpha Tauri. Stroll was 14th for Aston Martin, followed by Russell, Giovinazzi and Stroll's teammate Vettel. Latifi, Schumacher and Mazepin completed the rear of the field.



Less than a second separated the top 13 drivers at the end of FP3. Clean air and a clear track would prove pivotal come Qualifying.



Qualifying :


Qualifying got delayed by 10 minutes due to barrier work repair at turn nine caused by a crash from one of the support races. 



The lights went green for the start of Q1, and the Williams and Haas cars were the first ones out on track. The others followed suit a few minutes later. Everyone barring the Mercedes drivers ( on mediums ), chose the soft tyres. Bottas, Verstappen, Gasly, Sainz, Hamilton and Ricciardo were the top 6 at the end of the first runs, with Raikkonen, Stroll, Schumacher, Latifi and Mazepin being in the drop zone. The left rearview mirror on Latifi's car cracked when his Williams went over the kerbs at turn nine, while Norris, who was on a quick lap, got held up by Mazepin and other cars in the final sector. The incident got flagged for investigation post-session.  


Perez improved to 4th in the final minutes of Q1. The top 8 eight drivers, except for Hamilton, decided to stay put in the pits while the rest sparred for a place in Q2. The lap times improved with the track getting rubbered in, and the top 6 changed to Norris, Bottas, Leclerc, Verstappen, Gasly and Perez. Less than eight-tenths of a second separated the top 16 as Tsunoda, Raikkonen, Schumacher, Latifi and Mazepin got eliminated at the end of Q1.




The Ferraris, Alpines, Ricciardo and Russell decided to stay put, while Giovinazzi and the rest exited the pits at the start of Q2. Giovinazzi chose the medium tyres to set a banker lap, while the other drivers opted for the softs. Russell decided to stay longer, going out of sync with the rest.


Verstappen, Bottas, Hamilton, Norris, Sainz and Leclerc were the top 6 with Ocon, Perez, Vettel, Giovinazzi and Russell facing elimination after the first runs. Verstappen was half a second clear at the front while two-tenths separated P5 from P13. Ocon reported about understeer on his car and asked the team for changes in car balance.


Russell finally emerged from the pits for his one run of Q2 and set the 14th quickest time. 


While Verstappen stayed in the pits for the final minutes of Q2, others emerged with a set of soft tyres. Hamilton was on scrubbed tyres while Bottas on new ones. The duo went faster and reduced the deficit to Verstappen to only two-tenths. Sainz, Perez, Norris, Leclerc, Ricciardo, Ocon and Alonso went through to Q3 with Stroll, Gasly, Vettel, Giovinazzi and Russell getting eliminated.




It was time for the battle for pole position, and the final ten drivers came out to set their banker laps of Q3. Perez, unfortunately, suffered a spin at turn 13, which briefly brought out the yellow flags and left the Red Bull driver with a compromised session. He limped back to the pits, unable to set a lap time on his first run.


Hamilton was on a flying lap when the incident occurred but avoided the yellow flags in the final sector. He was on provisional pole, three-hundredths clear of Verstappen with Bottas another tenth adrift. Ocon, Sainz, Ricciardo, Leclerc and Norris were separated by four-tenths with Alonso down in 9th and Perez yet to post a time.


The final minutes of Q3 were frenetic as Verstappen jostled for clear air and track position, overtaking Perez, Ocon and the Ferrari cars on his out-lap. Ricciardo got held up, missed the flag and was unable to do his final run of Q3.


Hamilton went quicker in sector one but failed to improve in sectors two and three. Bottas and Verstappen didn't improve on their final runs either. Perez, in the other Red Bull, could only manage 8th.



Hamilton took pole position for the race on Sunday from Verstappen and Bottas. Leclerc produced yet another stellar lap to put his Ferrari on the 2nd row of the grid in 4th. Row 3 got taken up by Ocon and Sainz, while Ricciardo and Perez occupied row 4. Norris and Alonso completed the top 10.




Hamilton had achieved a century of pole positions, a feat unthinkable for anyone in the sport. The Briton produced a stonking lap when it mattered and eyed his 98th win on Sunday. Verstappen and Red Bull weren't far behind in 2nd, but like in the past, they had only one car on the sharp end of the grid to fight the two Mercedes. Perez had a long Sunday afternoon in front of him, while Bottas, in 3rd, hoped to make the most from starting on the cleaner side of the grid. Ferrari's pace from the practice sessions was genuine, and the team had the opportunity for a possible podium or a good haul of points on Sunday. Ocon produced a stellar lap in his Alpine and would lead the charge for them on Sunday. McLaren's tactical error with Ricciardo cost them dearly on Saturday, but Sunday was what counted, and they hoped to turn things around for both Ricciardo and Norris.



Aston Martin had hopes of making it into Q3 with the upgrades they brought in for the weekend. Unfortunately, it was not to be. Alpha Tauri failed to impress as well, with Tsunoda being the big casualty from Q1. While Giovinazzi continued to be the leader on Saturday for Alfa Romeo, Raikkonen couldn't break out of Q1, the dirty air from Latifi's car unsettling him on his final run. Russell, meanwhile, continued to extract the maximum out of Williams while Schumacher got better with each passing weekend.


Mazepin 
had caused a lot of grief to other drivers over Friday and Saturday and got penalised for impeding Norris in Q1. The Russian got one penalty point on his super licence along with a three-place grid drop, which had no implications since he had qualified 20th and last.




Race :


The skies were overcast, and drivers spotted drops of rain on their way to the grid. The clouds slowly pushed away, and the risk of rain dropped to 20%. A two-stops strategy was optimal, but the paddock was abuzz with talks that some drivers would attempt a one-stopper.


C1, C2 and C3 were the dry tyre compounds available for the race, and Raikkonen was the only driver to start on the mediums. 


The drivers pulled into their grid slots for the race start, but Gasly overshot his spot, getting flagged for investigation four laps later. The Frenchman would then get a five seconds time penalty for this infringement.




The race got underway, and Hamilton and Verstappen had great starts off the line. However, Verstappen hit the apex at turn one, taking the lead and compromising Hamilton's corner exit, who got had to take avoiding action from hitting the Dutchman. Bottas, who had followed Hamilton into the first couple of turns, got overtaken by Leclerc on the outside. Further down the field, Perez, Ricciardo and Schumacher made up two positions each, while Raikkonen was up by three. Verstappen, meanwhile, had extended his lead to 1.5 seconds at the end of the opening lap. 



Verstappen and Hamilton were setting blistering lap times, and the duo was pulling away from the rest of the field. Tsunoda, who had a disappointing Qualifying, began his recovery drive by overtakes on Russell and Schumacher, moving up to P16 by lap 5. However, disaster struck the rookie on lap 8 when his Alpa Tauri ground to a halt at turn 10. It turned out to be an engine issue, and the stewards had to deploy a Safety Car for the safe extrication of the vehicle. Meanwhile, Russell had overtaken Schumacher for P16.



The Safety Car got deployed, and Giovinazzi pitted for a fresh set of medium tyres. The Italian was stationary for 35 seconds, which is an eternity in the world of F1, before rejoining the race in P19. He had a big gap to bridge to the other cars. The stop looked like a disaster with mechanics running around with multiple tyres. However, replays showed that on timely inspection by a mechanic, there was a puncture on the front left, resulting in the entire set getting changed as per the FIA directive. Williams decided to do a double stack, switching both its drivers to the medium tyres. Russell had issues on his right rear tyre, and it was a slower stop for the Briton. The Safety Car period didn't last long, and racing resumed on lap 11. 



Verstappen had a clean getaway, but a wobble for Hamilton on the final turn denied him the opportunity of contesting for the lead. Russell and Latifi relegated Mazepin to P18, while Stroll got past Alonso for 10th. Russell then got past Schumacher for P15, and Alonso got a track limits violation at turn 2 ( lap 12 ).



DRS got enabled at lap 13, and Latifi dispatched Schumacher for 15th, two laps later. Sainz pressured Ocon for P7, but the Frenchman held on. Mazepin lost another position to Giovinazzi ( P18 ), while Ferrari told Sainz that they were switching to "Plan C". Meanwhile, his teammate Leclerc got shifted to "Plan B". 



Verstappen and Hamilton were lapping a lot quicker than the rest of the field, and blisters started appearing on the rear right tyres of both their cars. Gasly pitted for the medium tyres on lap 19, serving his time penalty during the stop, and rejoining in 19th and last. 



Verstappen, Hamilton, Leclerc, Bottas, Ricciardo, Perez, Ocon, Sainz, Norris and Stroll were the top 10 at the end of lap 21.



Alonso and Vettel pitted for medium tyres on lap 22, rejoining in 17th and 19th, respectively. Vettel's slower stop of 4 seconds costed the German track position to Gasly. The German got past him a lap later, though. While Sainz and Stroll pitted for the medium tyres on lap 23, Alonso overtook Mazepin for P16. The first round of pit stops continued for the teams, with Bottas, Norris and Ocon pitting for the medium tyres on lap 24. Bottas rejoined in 6th, having seen that the undercut was working for others in the race. Schumacher pitted for the medium tyres on lap 25, rejoining in 18th.



The battle at the front was hotting up with Hamilton catching Verstappen and now only half a second behind the Dutchman. A miscommunication between Verstappen and his race engineer led him to stop for new tyres, sooner than he was supposed to. The crew got delayed on putting the front and rear left tyres, and it was a 4.2 seconds stop. Verstappen rejoined in 5th but quickly got past Perez, who made way without any hesitation. Ironically, Mercedes and Hamilton didn't follow suit and decided to go longer. Ricciardo pitted for the medium tyres, rejoining in 8th ( lap 26 ).



Sainz got past Giovinazzi for P10, while Hamilton, who had caught up to backmarker Mazepin, couldn't get past. The Haas driver's antics frustrated Toto Wolff, Mercedes Team Principal, and he contacted the FIA to make his displeasure known. Ricciardo got past Russell for P7, while Perez and Latifi pitted for medium tyres, rejoining in 7th and 17th, respectively. Alonso reported power loss, and Alpine acknowledged that they were managing an issue. Raikkonen, who had taken the alternate strategy and yet to make a stop, got relegated to 6th by Ricciardo.



Hamilton finally pitted on lap 29, switching to the mediums and rejoining in 2nd, 6 seconds adrift of Verstappen. Leclerc and Russell also followed suit on the same lap, rejoining in P4 and P16, respectively. Both Alfa Romeo drivers were going backwards, with Giovinazzi losing two places to Alonso and Vettel, falling back to P14, and Raikkonen getting overtaken by Perez for P6. The duo then lost a position each to Sainz and Gasly on lap 31.



At the front, Hamilton was the fastest man on track, eating into Verstappen's lead and bringing the gap down to 2.5 seconds. The Briton was back in DRS range on lap 34, and the battle for victory was well and truly alive! Meanwhile, Raikkonen, who was in a tyre management phase, fell back to 10th after getting overtaken by Ocon and Norris. The Finn finally pitted on lap 39 for soft tyres, rejoining in 17th. He was on a one-stop strategy. Vettel, in his Aston Martin, followed suit on lap 40, rejoining in 17th behind Raikkonen. 



On the track, Perez was pressuring Ricciardo for P5, but the latter held the fort. The pit stop window for those on a two-stop strategy was now open, and Stroll and Giovinazzi were the first to switch to soft tyres, rejoining in 14th and 18th, respectively ( lap 41 ). Race Control issued a warning to Ricciardo for weaving on the pit straight, while Perez, who was chasing him down, ran wide and fell back by 1.5 seconds. 



Hamilton had closed up on Verstappen but was unable to get side-by-side and challenge for the lead. Mercedes made a bold decision and called Hamilton into the pits on lap 42, switching him to another set of medium tyres! Hamilton rejoined the race in 3rd, behind Bottas, and had to reduce the deficit to Verstappen, who decided to nurse his tyres to the end. And so the charge began for Hamilton and Mercedes, their quest for victory!



Hamilton went about setting blistering lap times again while Perez got past Ricciardo for P5. Ricciardo and Sainz pitted for the soft tyres on lap 47, rejoining in P8 and P9. A slow switch on the right rear tyres cost Gasly time in his pit stop, the Frenchman rejoining in 16th on lap 49. Ex-teammates Sainz and Norris got reunited on track, with the former bagging P8 on lap 51. Norris, trying to defend his position, got caught weaving, and Race Control served him a Black and White flag. The McLaren switched to a new set of soft tyres, rejoining in 11th, a lap later. 



Meanwhile, Hamilton had caught up to Bottas, and the team informed Bottas not to hold Hamilton up since he was on a different strategy. The Finn didn't seem too keen on relinquishing track position but left a gap big enough for Hamilton to complete an overtake on him at turn 10 ( lap 53 ). Further down the field, Ricciardo got past Ocon for P6, with Sainz relegating the Frenchman by another position. Mercedes decided to pit Bottas on lap 54, switching him to the soft tyres. He rejoined in 4th, behind Leclerc.  



Gasly got past Vettel for P14, while Hamilton and Bottas traded fastest laps on their new soft tyres. Bottas was back into P3 with a move on Leclerc on lap 57, the Monegasque putting up a weak fight. Meanwhile, Norris got past Alonso for P9. The gap at the front kept reducing, and Hamilton said that he might run out of grip towards the end. The team responded by saying that Verstappen was in a worse situation than him. Perez and Leclerc pitted for soft tyres on lap 59, rejoining in 3rd and 4th, respectively.



Hamilton was now within DRS deployment of Verstappen and was closing in on the pit straight. Verstappen took to the right, trying to break the tow and spewing pieces of discarded rubber onto Hamilton. The Briton had more traction and grip and took the lead on lap 60, overtaking Verstappen on the outside into turn one. 



Further down the field, Rusell lost three positions to Stroll, Raikkonen and Gasly while pressuring Alonso for P10. There was a train of cars forming up behind Alonso, whose tyres were on last legs. 


Meanwhile, Red Bull knew that their chances of victory were done and dusted. The team pitted Verstappen for soft tyres to grab the extra point for the fastest lap of the race ( lap 61 ). Bottas, who was also closing in on Verstappen before his stop, was still 5 seconds adrift when the latter rejoined the track in 2nd. Bottas also got stuck in the train of cars behind Alonso as he tried to lap the quintet of Alonso, Stroll, Raikkonen, Gasly and Vettel. 



Stroll attempted a pass on Alonso on lap 62 but was unable to brake in time, going wide into the run-off area and not rejoining as per the protocol set by the FIA. The Canadian backed off to let Alonso through, followed by Bottas, who was lapping him, only to have Raikkonen pressure him a couple of corners later. Raikkonen himself was under pressure from Gasly, who relegated him to 13th in the latter half of the lap. The incident between Stroll and Alonso got flagged for investigation, but the stewards deemed it a racing incident post-race. It was job done for Stroll a lap later, and Alonso's tyres fell off the cliff as he rapidly lost two more positions to Gasly and Raikkonen. Alonso finally pitted for new soft tyres, rejoining in P17.



Verstappen set the fastest lap of the race on lap 63, thus bagging the extra point on offer. The battle for the final point-scoring position wasn't over yet. Gasly got the better of Stroll on lap 64 and had Ocon, who was 12 seconds ahead, in his sights. Ocon, like Raikkonen, had adopted a one-stop strategy.




Hamilton took the Chequered Flag and the Win at the Spanish GP. Verstappen came home in 2nd, having tried his best, followed by Bottas in 3rd in the other Mercedes. Another strong performance saw Leclerc finish in 4th for Ferrari, followed by Perez and Ricciardo. Sainz was 7th in the other Ferrari, followed by Norris in 8th. The cushion of 12 seconds disappeared for Ocon, who just managed to hold off Gasly in the race to the line for 9th. Gasly completed the top 10, scoring a point for Alpha Tauri.



Stroll was 11th for Aston Martin, followed by Raikkonen in his Alfa Romeo. P13 was the best that Vettel could achieve, followed by Russell and Giovinazzi, who was unlucky at the start of the race. Latifi was 16th in the other Williams, fending off a late challenge by Alonso in 17th. The Haas cars of Schumacher and Mazepin completed the classified finishers.




It was Win Number 98 for Hamilton and the 50th Podium for Bottas in his time at Mercedes. The trio of Hamilton, Verstappen and Bottas shared the podium at the Spanish GP for the 4th consecutive season. Mercedes was able to outsmart Red Bull once again. It was a repeat of the 2019 Hungarian GP. Should Red Bull have pitted Verstappen a lap after Hamilton? Could he have kept the lead on rejoining? It was a hard nut to crack. Spain wasn't the easiest of tracks to overtake on, considering its aero sensitive characteristics. Track position was more important for Red Bull, but tyre life caused their undoing. The absence of the second car in the battle at the top left Red Bull with a handicap again. These issues need addressing. The curse of poor results from the 2nd car at Red Bull never seems to go away, even with a Perez at the wheel. It is back to the drawing board for the Milton Keynes outfit. Bottas has scored half of Hamilton's tally in 2021 to date. The Finn needs to step up his game if he wants to stake a claim on the title. The Drivers' Title is quickly becoming a two-horse race between Hamilton and Verstappen.



Ferrari outscored McLaren with stellar drives from Leclerc and Sainz. Only 5 points separate McLaren from Ferrari, and this battle also promises to go down to the wire. Ocon holding off Gasly at the end was pivotal in the Constructors' battle for Alpine. Stopping only once was a bold call to make, and it paid dividends ( for Ocon ). Alonso wasn't as fortunate in the other Alpine, with reliability issues costing him positions in the race. Alpha Tauri had another breakdown with Tsunoda but was able to salvage a point through Gasly. Every point matters. 



Aston Martin came close to scoring a point with Stroll, only to be pipped by Gasly with three laps left. Vettel, too, failed to impress. The new regulations are wrecking the team's chances, and some desperate steps are needed for fortunes to change. Raikkonen was the last driver to pit in the first round of pit stops and spent most of his race in tyre management. If the team had adopted a more aggressive approach, they could have scored their first points of 2021. Giovinazzi, on the other hand, got undone by poor strategic calls, something that Alfa Romeo need to iron out. He has been delivering the goods on Saturday, but unfortunate incidents are costing him and the team on race day. Williams has been strong on Saturdays but keeps falling backwards on Sundays with both its drivers. The chances of the team scoring a point seem bleak. While Schumacher continues to grow as an F1 racer, Mazepin remains the centre of attention for all the wrong reasons, finding new drivers and personnel to displease every weekend. The Russian had a clean race, so that is a positive, but the pace deficit to Schumacher remains. Haas' performances don't augur well for their future.




While Hamilton completed a century of Poles in Spain, Verstappen completed 100 race starts with Red Bull! In the Clash of these Centurions, Race Strategy chose the Victor! 




The drivers will lock horns again, in two weeks, at the most glamorous race on the calendar! It is time for the Monaco GP in the Principality!


Track position will be paramount, considering the narrow nature of the oldest street circuit on the calendar. The honour of winning at Monaco is unmatched, something which few have experienced from the current grid.




So who will reign supreme in the streets of Monaco? We shall know soon enough! 

2020 Spanish GP Race Recap : Hammer Time in the Mediterranean

The Circuit de Catalunya was the venue for the sixth round of the 2020 Formula One season and the last race of the second triple-header of 2020. The circuit, situated in the town of Montmelo near Barcelona, Catalunya is the most used track on the calendar with the teams participating in two pre-season tests held here besides the GP itself. The Spanish GP is held in May but got postponed to August due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Circuit de Catalunya is a track that has a "little bit of everything" and tests the true capability of a car. Deficiencies if any, are exposed on this fast, flowing, high downforce circuit and the respective lap times indicate the real pecking order of the F1 grid.


The recently concluded 70th Anniversary GP served up a thrilling race thanks to the tyre choice made by Pirelli for the second weekend in Silverstone. However, the Italian marquee decided to take a conservative approach for Catalunya and chose the hardest tyre compounds ( C1, C2 and C3 ) for the Spanish GP weekend. 

Sergio Perez, who had missed the two races at Silverstone, returned to racing with Racing Point after testing negative for Covid-19. 

The FIA also decided to ban "quali modes" after the Spanish GP weekend, intending to bring more parity in the field. The teams will have to run the same engine mode for qualifying and the race from next GP ( Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium ).


More Details about the ruling here :

https://www.formula1.com/en/latest/article.qualifying-engine-modes-what-are-the-proposed-changes-and-why-do-they-matter.OI3cSGqWS6mONcBHUFncL.html


Red Bull bagged a great victory with Max Verstappen at the 70th Anniversary GP. Mercedes suffered due to the higher track temperatures and tyre blistering.

The weather forecast for the Spanish GP weekend wasn't any different.


Did we have a repeat of the previous race or did Mercedes overcome the gremlins to take another victory in 2020? Did Ferrari have a better outing with a higher downforce package? Were Racing Point, Renault and McLaren able to get into the sharp end of the grid? Were Haas F1 and Alfa Romeo able to score points this weekend?

Time for a recap of the events from the weekend!



Practice :


Vettel ( Ferrari ) and Sainz ( McLaren ) got a new chassis for the weekend, the duo hoping to address the issues they faced from the opening rounds. 

Williams Reserve Driver, Roy Nissany got the nod for a practice session, in place of George Russell, the Israeli rookie following his father's footsteps who was the reserve driver for Minardi in 2005. Stroll and Perez came within close contact of Bottas and Raikkonen in the tight and twisty last section of the circuit. The Finns had to relent and give up on their laps. Bottas narrowly missed hitting a bird on one of his flying laps while debutant Nissany suffered a spin ( at turn 10 ) while getting to grips with his Williams. George Russell took to pit lane duties and acted as the lollipop man for his team. 
Bottas was the fastest in Free Practice 1, four-hundredths of a second clear of his team-mate Hamilton. Verstappen was third lastest, less than a second adrift. Leclerc and Vettel were 4th and 5th for Ferrari with Grosjean joining them in the top 6 in his Haas. Perez was P7 for Racing Point. Albon, Magnussen and Stroll completed the top 10. McLaren could only manage P11 and P13 while the Renault drivers set the 12th and 18th fastest times. Giovinazzi and Raikkonen ( P15 and P16 ) split the Alpha Tauris of Gasly and Kvyat. Latifi and Nissany were 19th and 20th for Williams.

Everyone set their representative lap times on the soft tyres except for Perez, Stroll, Ocon and Nissany who were on mediums.


Free Practice 2 was an eventful session with low fuel runs and racing simulations for almost all drivers. Mercedes was the class of the field with Hamilton, three-tenths of a second clear of Bottas. A wobble at the exit of turn 15 along with a trip across the gravel denied Bottas a clean session. Verstappen kept the Mercedes duo honest in third while Ricciardo catapulted his Renault to P4. Haas F1 was in the top 6 again with Grosjean repeating his performance of FP1 with the 5th fastest time. Leclerc ensured works Ferrari representation with P6 while Sainz improved to P7 for McLaren. The Spaniard still struggled with cooling issues on his car. The Stewards reprimanded Sainz for using the run-off area for gaining a position on a slower car, the manoeuvre saving him brake usage. Perez was P8 for Racing Point while Ocon got both Renault cars into the top 10 with P9. It wasn't a trouble-free session for the Alpha Tauri duo with both drivers spending a considerable amount of time in the garage. However, Gasly was able to set the tenth fastest time while Kvyat was only P15, his flying lap compromised by a Williams on the racing line. Stroll was P11 for Racing Point while Vettel was down to P12 in his Ferrari. Albon's travails on a Friday continued with only the 13th fastest time. Norris was P14 from Kvyat, Magnussen, Raikkonen and Giovinazzi. Russell returned in FP2 but was critical of the lack of grip quipping that it felt like "driving on ice". He was the slowest of the session, three-tenths of a second off his less experienced team-mate Latifi's best time. 

Only six-tenths of a second separated P6 from P16, suggesting a tight midfield battle could unfold on Qualifying day. Haas was encouraged by their strong showing on Friday while Alfa Romeo still had no answer for their lack of pace. Red Bull was the best of the rest on Friday with Mercedes holding a considerable advantage over one lap pace. The race simulations in FP2 saw some running the medium tyres and some the hards. The Red Bull cars did comparable lap times with the Mercedes cars on the medium tyres. Christian Horner, the Red Bull Team Principal, believed that this could reduce the deficit come Sunday.


Haas F1 broke the curfew restrictions on Friday night to change the Power Unit on Grosjean's car, the first of their two exemptions in the season. McLaren changed the Internal Combustion Engine, MGU-H and MGU-K to mitigate any issues of cooling on Sainz' car.  


Hamilton led another Mercedes 1-2 in Free Practice 3. Searing track temperatures put a strain on the soft tyres with Mercedes asking its drivers to drive under the shade of the grandstands to cool them down. The lap times got faster as drivers laid rubber on the track. Hamilton made full use of track evolution and was a tenth and a half clear of his team-mate. Verstappen was third, half a second slower with Sainz, Perez and Leclerc completing the top 6. Alpha Tauri looked strong going into Qualifying with P7 for Gasly. Stroll, Albon and Ricciardo completed the top 10. Ocon was P11 but suffered a late crash that brought out the Red Flag and ended the session. The Frenchman got overtaken by Magnussen who seemed to back out of his flying lap three hundred metres later. Magnussen then tried to move off the racing line to the middle of the track when Ocon caught up at turn 3. Ocon, however, didn't react soon enough and had to do a hard turn to avoid ramming Magnussen from behind. The sudden change of direction sent him into the wall, damaging the front portion of his Renault. The stewards investigated the incident but deemed it as "no action necessary" since data on Magnussen's car showed that he was harvesting energy and Ocon had enough time to react. Vettel was P12 in the other Ferrari, ahead of Grosjean and Raikkonen. Norris could only manage P15 with Kvyat, Magnussen, Giovinazzi and the two Williams bringing up the rear of the field. 



Qualifying :

It was a long afternoon for Renault mechanics who got Ocon's car ready, just in time for qualifying. Q1 got underway with the entire field opting for soft tyres. It was a close contest with one second separating P1 from P15. Hamilton, Perez, Stroll, Bottas, Verstappen and Sainz were the provisional top 6 with Grosjean, Raikkonen, Magnussen, Latifi and Giovinazzi in the drop zone. Giovinazzi asked the team to check for floor damage after running wide on the penultimate corner and bouncing over the kerbs. Kvyat had allegedly impeded Magnussen on his flying lap, the stewards deeming it necessary for investigation post-qualifying. A huge bottle-neck formed up in the final minutes of Q1 as the drivers jostled for clear air and track position. The lap times tumbled due to track evolution. Raikkonen catapulted his Alfa Romeo to P14 before ending on the cusp of elimination. The others behind couldn't go faster. Alfa Romeo was into Q2 for the first time this season! Magnussen, Grosjean, Russell, Latifi and Giovinazzi were the drivers eliminated in Q1 with Hamilton being the fastest from Perez, Verstappen, Bottas and Leclerc. The loss of pace for Haas F1 flummoxed one and all, the chances of a promising result seemed bleak.


Tyre choices dominated team discussions in Q2. The teams would run "quali modes" for the last time in the turbo era. All the drivers opted for the soft tyres for their first run in Q2. The order after the first runs was - Hamilton, Bottas, Verstappen, Sainz, Leclerc, Perez, Stroll, Norris, Albon, Ricciardo, Vettel, Ocon, Gasly, Kvyat and Raikkonen. Both the Mercedes drivers and Verstappen chose not to run in Q2 while the rest of the field bar Raikkonen exited the pits on a fresh set of soft tyres. Raikkonen didn't have any new soft tyres left and had to use the mediums for his final run in Q2. The top three remained unchanged with Stroll improving to P4 and Gasly producing a stellar lap to jump up to P5. Sainz, Perez, Leclerc, Albon and Norris completed the top 10. Albon and Norris scraped through to Q3, escaping elimination by five-thousandths and three-thousandths of a second! A lucky escape indeed! Most of the runners were unable to improve on their final runs into Q2, track temperatures going outside the operating range of the soft tyres being the probable cause. Vettel was the big casualty of Q2, failing to make it into Q3 again by the smallest of margins. These setbacks never seemed to end for the four-time world champion. Kvyat was P12 while Renault had a forgettable Saturday with Ricciardo in P13 and Ocon in P15. Raikkonen qualified P14 for Alfa Romeo, faster than a Renault, with medium tyres and narrowly missing a chance of getting into Q3 ( 0.22 seconds slower ). He believed the car had the pace to qualify in the top 10, but for the shortage of soft tyres!


The top-ten shootout got underway a few minutes later. Red Bull released Albon into the path of Hamilton, the latter having to take evasive action. The contenders for pole were out on soft tyres for their banker laps in Q3. Five chose the used soft tyres for their first run - Norris, Sainz, Gasly, Leclerc and Albon. 

Hamilton was on provisional pole, five-hundredths of a second clear of Bottas in P2. Verstappen was P3 from Perez, Stroll and Norris. Leclerc, Albon, Sainz and Gasly completed the provisional top 10. The final minutes of Q3 saw changes in the pecking order with everyone switching to a fresh set of soft tyres. Bottas set the fastest overall time in the second sector but ran out of grip in the final section. He couldn't improve on his first run. Hamilton couldn't improve on his previous lap time either. The Racing Point cars of Perez and Stroll were unable to break into the top 3. Verstappen pushed hard in his Red Bull yet failed to split the Mercedes. Albon improved to P6 in the other Red Bull followed by Sainz and Norris in P7 and P8. Leclerc had reported abnormal engine behaviour on his out-lap but went faster on his final run. He was P9 from Gasly, both a second and a half adrift of the fastest time. Kvyat got a formal warning for his impeding infringement in Q1.


Hamilton was on pole for the 92nd time in his career! Bottas completed a Mercedes front-row. Red Bull was pleased to see both their cars in the top 6 while Racing Point posed a potent challenge to the Milton-Keynes based outfit. The McLarens were there again, ready to pounce on any slip-ups by the drivers ahead. Ferrari continued to be off the pace, despite their higher downforce setup. Alpha Tauri had a great qualifying session and hoped to score some points on Sunday. It was a better showing for Alfa Romeo on Saturday while Renault had their work cut out for Sunday. Haas F1 and Williams Racing were a disappointment, yet again. 



Race :

Red Bull changed the ICE, Turbo, MGU-H and MGU-K on Verstappen's car ahead of the race. They were components used earlier, so no penalty incurred. Racing Point also took new control-electronics and energy store for Perez. 

There was a 20% risk of rain during the race. Vettel, Ricciardo, Raikkonen, Ocon, Grosjean, Latifi and Giovinazzi started the race on medium tyres, the rest choosing the softs. The Mercedes drivers used their DAS system to good effect on the formation lap, bringing their tyres to optimum temperatures.




Hamilton had a clean start off the line with Bottas' slower launch getting him swamped into turn 1. Verstappen and Stroll got mega starts and used the tow to jump him on the 600m drag to turn 1. Verstappen was up into P2 with Stroll demoting Bottas to P4. Perez tried to make it worse for the Mercedes driver but couldn't make it work. Norris got bogged down and fell back to P10. Further down the field, Giovinazzi made up a place on Latifi while Ricciardo also gained a couple of places. Gasly was up to P8 while Kvyat made a pass on Ricciardo for P12 on lap 2.


Hamilton was 1.5 seconds clear of Verstappen at the front. Mercedes asked Bottas to quickly dispatch Stroll so that his race wouldn't be compromised. He tried a couple of times with DRS assistance but the Canadian held firm. It was job done on lap 5 with Verstappen the next target, three seconds further up the road. Russell got past Grosjean for P17 on the same lap as Verstappen tried to maintain his advantage with the fastest lap of the race. Bottas, in clean air, went faster on lap 6. Red Bull informed Verstappen that the gap to Hamilton was reducing, the Briton trying to control the pace of the race while extending his stint on the soft tyres. Albon, in the other Red Bull, was closing in on Perez whose tyres had started to overheat. 


The top ten at the end of lap 10 were Hamilton, Verstappen, Bottas, Stroll, Perez, Albon, Sainz, Gasly, Leclerc and Norris. McLaren was confident about "Plan A" ( race strategy ) for Sainz, as communicated to him on the team radio. 


Hamilton put in a series of fastest laps from laps 10 to 13 as Verstappen continued to complain about his tyres and a tail-wind which had picked up out of turn 7, hampering his drive. The field had begun to spread out with only Kvyat and Raikkonen the drivers within DRS range of the cars in front of them. Kvyat tried to make a move on Vettel for P11 under DRS but wasn't close enough. The battle for P14 was hotting up between Magnussen, Raikkonen and Ocon. 


Albon was the first of the front runners to pit on lap 18 for hard tyres. He rejoined in P16, right in the thick of the Magnussen, Raikkonen and Ocon battle. Russell pitted on lap 20 for medium tyres, rejoining in P20. Albon tried to make an overtake on Ocon but had to back out of it. Ocon, on the other hand, got past Raikkonen for P15 with Albon doing the same a couple of corners later. The Alfa Romeo driver had no more grip and pitted for a fresh set of medium tyres on lap 21.


Frustration over lack of grip due to tyre-wear left Verstappen fuming. Red Bull fulfilled his wish to pit, on lap 22, executing a 1.9 seconds pit stop to bring him out just ahead of Stroll and Perez in P3 with medium tyres. A flurry of pitstops followed over the next couple of laps. Gasly, Norris, Kvyat and Giovinazzi pitted on lap 23 with Norris choosing the soft tyres and the rest, the mediums. Mercedes decided to do a "double-stack" and pitted both its drivers for a fresh set of mediums. It was a slower stop for Hamilton with an issue on his left rear tyre. Thankfully, he didn't lose track position to Verstappen. Bottas, however, was demoted back to P3 after their first round of pit stops. Sainz pitted on lap 25 for soft tyres and rejoined in P12, being passed by Albon out of turn 1. 


Kvyat made a move on Latifi for P16 while Albon got stuck in traffic in P11, the strategy call not paying off. He came under intense pressure from Sainz who was on fresher tyres. Verstappen wasn't too pleased with Red Bull continuously informing him about the strategies adopted by the Mercedes duo. He reprimanded his engineer for being too preoccupied with what others were doing and asked him to focus on their performance instead. Meanwhile, Kvyat went past Grosjean for P15 and Raikkonen overtook Latifi for P18. Stroll pitted on lap 28 for mediums and rejoined in P8. Magnussen lost places in the space of one lap to Ocon, Albon and Sainz. He immediately pitted, along with Latifi, for fresh medium tyres while Latifi switched to the hard set. There was more action on track with Sainz relegating Albon to P11 on lap 29, thanks to his fresher tyres. 


Perez, Leclerc and Vettel were the next drivers to pit on lap 30. Perez and Leclerc switched over to the mediums while Vettel chose the soft tyres. Leclerc and Vettel rejoined in 13th and 14th, respectively. Perez rejoined in P7, just behind Sainz who was completing an overtake manoeuvre on Ocon into turn 1. Ricciardo, Ocon and Grosjean were the drivers who still hadn't pitted. Perez regained track position on Sainz with an overtake on lap 31 while Leclerc got past Kvyat for P12Russell got past Grosjean for P15 and Leclerc had honed in Norris on lap 32. 


Perez tried a daring move on Stroll on lap 33, much to the displeasure of the team principal Ottmar Szafnauer. Stroll held on to P5. Further down the field, Raikkonen made a move on Grosjean for P16. Grosjean pitted on lap 34, rejoining in P19 with soft tyres on his car. Albon moved up into P8 with an overtake on Ocon. Leclerc went wheel-to-wheel with Norris for P11, but the latter put up a strong defence despite a couple of lock-ups. Ricciardo finally pitted on lap 36 for a set of soft tyres, rejoining in 13th while Russell pitted for a set of medium tyres, down to P18. Ferrari informed Vettel that there was rain forecasted around lap 50. However, they had weightier issues to address on lap 37. Leclerc spun, getting stuck at turn 14 and unable to get going again. Replays showed that the Monegasque's engine had given up, sending him into a spin. The problem seemed terminal even though he recovered from the shutdown. Leclerc wanted to pit as his seat-belts had gotten loose as well.


Hamilton was now 9 seconds clear of Verstappen. Bottas, Stroll, Perez, Sainz, Albon, Gasly, Norris and Kvyat completed the top 10 at the end of lap 40. Leclerc pitted on lap 41 to address the issues on his car. Albon also pitted, for a fresh set of medium tyres and rejoined in P11. The Ferrari mechanics couldn't repair the car and wheeled Leclerc into the garage and retirement. A disappointing end to a promising Sunday. The battle at the front intensified with Bottas reducing the deficit to Verstappen, the latter pitting for the second time ( lap 42 ) for another set of medium tyres. Sainz pitted a lap later and managed to rebuff a challenge by Albon for P10 on exiting the pits. Bottas set the fastest lap of the race on lap 43. 


The second round of pit-stops had begun. Stroll and Gasly pitted on lap 44 for softs and mediums, rejoining in P8 and P11, respectively. Norris pitted on lap 46 for medium tyres, rejoining behind Gasly. Hamilton now held the fastest lap time. Raikkonen pitted from P14 for soft tyres and rejoined in 19th. Kvyat and Giovinazzi followed suit a lap later, opting for mediums and softs. Bottas pitted on lap 48 for soft tyres while Vettel asked the team's opinion on pitting again. He was in P5 but converting to a one-stop strategy seemed to be a tough ask. Bottas had to bridge a six seconds gap to Verstappen and had the fastest tyres under him. Meanwhile, Hamilton discussed tyre choices with his team and demanded the medium set for his final stint. Mercedes heeded to his demand in his pit stop on lap 51.


Perez was found guilty for ignoring blue flags and came under investigation. He got a five-second time penalty for his infringement ( lap 53 ). Ferrari, unsure of their plans, asked Vettel about the possibility of extending his soft tyres stint till the end. The German was exasperated, asking why they didn't consider this earlier, presumably before he started taking extra life out of his tyres.
Daniil Kvyat was next on the list to receive a five-second time penalty, ignoring blue flags the crime again ( lap 56 ). 


Bottas was unable to close the gap to Verstappen ahead, the Dutchman extending his cushion to more than seven seconds! There was no sign of rain in the closing stages of the race. Racing Point asked Stroll to push, realising that an overtake would have to be made on track for P5. Stroll completed the move on Vettel on lap 57 with DRS assistance. He had clear air ahead of him and a chance to bag P4 from his team-mate Perez should he finish within five seconds off him. Ocon got past Magnussen for P13. Raikkonen completed an overtake on Grosjean for P16 on the pit straight ( lap 59 ) but wasn't happy with the Frenchman. Grosjean moved under braking, once again and Raikkonen had to slam on the brakes to avoid ramming him from behind. The Flying Finn made another move on the same lap, snatching P15 from Russell. 


Stroll was catching Perez who like Vettel had opted for a one-stop strategy. Stroll was comfortably within the five-second bracket, so a P4 finish was assured. Sainz demoted Vettel to P7 ( lap 60 ) with Albon lining him up next. Grosjean tangled with Giovinazzi while unsuccessfully defending P17 and ran wide at turn 1, causing debris from his car to end up on the track. Hamilton drove over that debris and got concerned about damage. Thankfully, all was ok. The Stewards decided to investigate the Grosjean and Giovinazzi incident after the race. Raikkonen relegated Magnussen to P15 on lap 61 while Giovinazzi completed an overtake on Russell a lap later. The Mercedes duo sparred for the fastest lap of the race on lap 63. Bottas cut the deficit to Verstappen to two seconds, but it was too little too late. He had lost performance on his soft tyres. Grosjean pitted on lap 65 after suffering a tank-slapper at turn 9.


Bottas pitted on the penultimate lap for medium tyres, resigned to P3 but determined to grab the fastest lap point. A train of cars had formed up behind Vettel; Albon, Gasly, Norris and Ricciardo all vying for a higher finish. The German managed his defence of P7 well, positioning his car and using his battery power sensibly to fend off attack after attack from Albon. 


Lewis Hamilton took the chequered flag and victory at the 2020 Spanish GP! Max Verstappen came home in 2nd, 24 seconds adrift. Bottas set the fastest lap of the race on the last lap, completing the podium in P3. Stroll and Perez were P4 and P5 for Racing Point followed by Sainz, Vettel, Albon, Gasly and NorrisRicciardo was P11 for Renault from Kvyat, Ocon and Raikkonen. Magnussen, Giovinazzi, Russell, Latifi and Grosjean completed the classified runners. 




Hamilton had dominated on a Sunday again. He had lapped everyone up to P4 and was in a league of his own. It was his 88th career victory, three short of the record of 91 wins of Michael Schumacher. He surpassed the German with this result being his 156th podium finish! Another record for the six-time World Champion.



Kimi Raikkonen, too set a record this weekend. The Finn achieved the record of longest distance raced in an F1 car ( 83846 km ) which equates to 2 full laps of the earth. He accomplished this feat on lap 37 of the race! Kudos!


Vettel crossed 3000 points in his F1 career with his 7th place.


Mercedes bounced back from the disappointment of last weekend with another flawless win. They would be a tad disappointed with Bottas' race, but except for Verstappen, no one else poses a threat to their title chances. Red Bull needs to have both cars contending with the Mercedes, and the onus is on Albon to improve from the next race. Racing Point continues its upward climb despite the reprimands and protests of their competitors. There was another protest lodged by Renault which got withdrawn as the Technical Delegate had already highlighted the ( same ) brake duct design to the stewards. Racing Point got another reprimand this weekend.


Ferrari would rue a missed opportunity for a double-points finish with the electrical failure on Leclerc's car. It was a mini-revival for Vettel, his P7 finish testament to his never-give-up attitude. Alpha Tauri would be pleased with Gasly's result, the Frenchman's reputation rising with each race weekend. McLaren and Renault seem to be going through a blip in form and need to improve their overall performance to stay in touch with the high flying Racing Point. Alfa Romeo would be encouraged with a better showing on Saturday and Sunday, but finishing in the points remains a target. Haas F1 and Williams Racing have a lot of work to do over the next fortnight if they are to stem this decline in 2020.




The season resumes in a fortnight at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps ( Belgium ), the next destination on the F1 calendar. It will be the first race of the next triple-header of the season. An iconic track with unique challenges that only a classic F1 circuit can present, the Belgian Grand Prix must not be missed!


Time for the drivers to refresh, regroup and return for round seven, in a fortnight!

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!!