Spanish Grand Prix – Circuit de Catalunya

The Spanish Grand Prix is held at the Circuit de Catalunya located in Montmeló just the city of Barcelona.

Circuit de Catalunya was built in 1991 to coincide with the Olympic Games scheduled to take place in Barcelona. Because the bulk of F1 testing is done at this circuit, Formula One drivers and mechanics are extremely familiar with it.

Early on, overtaking was frequent at Catalunya as the cars could follow closely through the last two corners and slipstream down the long straight. But over the years as aerodynamic balance became more critical, this overtaking method decreased as the cars were unable to follow each other through the fast final corner due to turbulence created by the leading car. The 2007 F1 Season saw the 1st of the 2 final sweeping corners replaced with a slow chicane in an effort to improve overtaking. However, the redesign did not noticeably increase the amount of overtaking.

The track has staged the Spanish Grand Prix every year since 1991 and is a popular venue for both teams and drivers, due to its challenging and varied configuration. Catalunya is a track where set-up is critical in order to be quick. The long pit straight demands good aeroefficiency, there are some very challenging slow speed corners, off-camber and on-camber that need good mechanical grip, and a couple of high-speed corners where downforce is key. Most teams believe that a car that performs well at the Circuit de Catalunya tends be competitive at many of the tracks on the F1 calendar.

It will be interesting to see if the rule changes in F1 introduced for the 2010 season to improve the racing and promote overtaking actually have some effect in Barcelona.

CIRCUIT DATA

Lap Length: 2.9892 Miles (4.655 km)
Lap Record: 1:21.670 (Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, 2008)
Number of Turns: 16 (9 RH, 7 LH)
Number of Race Laps: 66
Total Race Distance: 190.825 Miles (307.104 km)

The wind direction at the circuit can change drastically during the day, a significant factor given the importance of aerodynamics to modern Formula One cars. It is then hard to find a good setup since cars can have massive aerodynamic drag and understeer on one part of the circuit in the morning, but suffer oversteer at the same part of the circuit in the afternoon. A given tyre compound can work well when tested, but not so well a couple of months later. These changeable conditions can make for an unexpected performances from some teams during the race.

Historically Barcelona is the race were many of the teams introduce their first major upgrades to their cars, this year it will be interesting to see which of the teams have developed a blown rear wing to compete with McLaren. We know already that Mercedes and Ferrari have been working on their own unique implementations of Mclarens original idea.

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Toyota Aristo January 30, 2011 at 1:33 pm

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