FORMULA 1 SPANISH GRAND PRIX

Posted By F1 Fast Lap













Catalunya

Race Date:
11 May 2014
Circuit Name:
Circuit de Catalunya
First Grand Prix:
1991
Number of Laps:
66
Circuit Length:
4.655 km
Race Distance:
307.104 km
Lap Record:
1:21.670 - K Raikkonen (2008)

The Formula One teams are no strangers to Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya; not only have they raced there every year since 1991, they also conduct extensive testing at the venue.

Familiarity does not, however, lessen the challenge for car or driver. Barcelona's mix of high and low-speed corners, plus its abrasive and rather bumpy track surface, makes for a physically and mechanically taxing race. Tyre wear is particularly high and the varying winds that cut across the circuit mean an optimum set-up can be hard to find.

For spectators Elf corner is among the best places to watch, as it is one of the track's few overtaking opportunities. For the drivers it is the final two turns, known collectively as New Holland, which provide one of the biggest challenges of the season. A fast exit is essential in order to maximise speed down the start-finish straight into Elf.

2012 marks the 22nd time Barcelona has hosted the Spanish Grand Prix. Michael Schumacher has been the most successful driver at the circuit, with a total of six victories. Among the other current drivers, Kimi Raikkonen, Fernando Alonso, Sebastian Vettel, Jenson Button, Mark Webber and Felipe Massa have all won there.


Turn 1 is the main overtaking point at Catalunya, as it is a braking zone at the end of a long DRS straight. The inside and outside are just as difficult as each other for overtaking; if you can hold it around the outside of turn one, then you get the inside for turn two. The corners themselves make up a medium speed chicane — you brake rather late for turn one (Elf) and shift down to gear two, and turn two is almost full throttle as you try and gain as much exit speed as possible. Turn 3 (Renault) is a long, flat out (in some cars) right-hander that has a g-force of about four, and it leads onto a short straight before turn 4, the Repsol curve. Another right-hander, turn four is similar to Monza's Curva Parabolica — you brake and take an early apex (in third gear), before carrying lots of speed out of the exit. Turn 5 (Seat) comes immediately after and is a slow left-hander taken in second gear which drops rapidly downhill towards the left kink of turn 6 which is ignored by F1 cars. Turns 7 and 8 make up a medium-speed, uphill, left-right chicane. Drivers brake and shift down to gear three, and must not run too wide as turn eight has a large kerb on its apex which could potentially damage cars' suspensions. Turn 9, Campsa Corner, is a very fast, sixth gear right-hander which is made incredibly difficult due to the fact that it is completely blind to the drivers. It is initially quite steep uphill but the exit is then downhill, making it blind, so it is quite easy to run wide onto the astroturf. The long back straight leads into turn 10 (La Caixa), a second-gear, left-hand hairpin, then turns 11 and 12, a left kink before a long, slow, third-gear right. The next section has been redesigned by German engineer Hermann Tilke to lower speeds onto the pit straight — which in turn increases overtaking opportunities and safety. Turn 13 is a tight, third gear right-hander and drivers have to quickly cross the circuit to take the racing line through the slow left-right chicane of turns 14 and 15, taken in second gear. Good traction is needed here as it determines speed down the pit straight. Turn 16 (New Holland) is a flat-out right-hander which takes you across the line.

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