Barcelona… the first of our two visits to Spain this season. It’s one of those races where the fans pack the grandstands and really show their passion. Every driver will tell you that there are few places where you can actually hear the noise of the crowd from inside the car, but Spain is one of them. Obviously a lot of those cheers go to the local hero Fernando Alonso, but all of the teams enjoy going to the familiar testing venue of the Circuit de Catalunya.
For a country so passionate about motor racing, it is quite surprising to read that over 35% of the daily journeys in Barcelona are done walking or by bike. 70% of people living in the city even see themselves as ‘pure pedestrian’ rather than motorists, and for the tourists amongst us, walking or cycling is definitely the best way to experience the wonders of the city. A nice trip from the ‘Plaça d'Espanya’, one of Barcelona’s most important and impressive squares, to the ‘Plaça de Catalunya’ is something to experience. Probably before a nice stop before some tapas around La Ramblas…
One thing that people in Barcelona and Formula One drivers have in common is time- saving. A recent survey in the city showed that people will choose their form of transport from a ‘time saving’ point of view only, rather than comfort or even safety. Going from point A to point B (or for that matter back to point A!) as fast as possible… funnily enough, it rings a bell.
The Circuit de Catalunya has hosted some ‘classic’ races since the track was built in 1991. Formula One fans might remember the 1994 race where Michael managed to finish in second place… despite only having fifth gear for the second half of the race. Or the classic wheel-to-wheel battle between Nigel Mansell and Ayrton Senna in the first Grand Prix held at the circuit.
Last year, at the team’s first race in Barcelona as MERCEDES GP PETRONAS, Michael secured his best result with us so far thanks to a fourth-placed finish, whilst Nico had a more difficult race with a P13 finish.
One notable thing about the track is the lack of overtaking. In 1999, there was only one overtaking maneuver during the entire race. Two weeks after the action-packed Turkish Grand Prix with its countless overtaking actions, fans in the grandstands and in front of their TV will probably want a bit more than that! The big question is… will KERS, Pirelli tyres and the DRS deliver?