Barcelona, Spain Track Guide

Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya

Barcelona – Spain

Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya has hosted the Spanish Grand Prix since 1991, which is one of the oldest Formula 1 events. Since then, Barcelona has been present every year on the calendar, as well as hosting pre-season testing on many occasions.

Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya is located in Montmeló, a few kilometers from Barcelona, and has a length of 4.657 km and 14 turns. It is a very fast and complete circuit, ideal for testing the aerodynamics of the cars, and it is very popular among fans.

It has become one of the modern classics of Formula 1, where we have lived some of the most iconic moments of the last decades. It has a contract with the FIA until 2026, so it has no intention of leaving. Without further ado, let’s take a look at this very special circuit.

Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya: Complete Data

Official NameCircuit de Barcelona-Catalunya
LocationMontmeló, Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain
TypeRace Circuit
Track Length4.657 km (2.894 miles)
Race Distance66 laps (307.362 km)
Grand Prix Held32 (1991-present)
Race Lap Record1:18.146 (Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB16B, 2021) [2021-2022 layout]
Most PolesMichael Schumacher (7)
Most WinsMichael Schumacher & Lewis Hamilton (6)

Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya: History

The Spanish Grand Prix is one of the oldest motor racing events, held for the first time in 1913 and resumed in the interwar period, being held 8 times in the street circuit of Lasarte, near Madrid. With some F1 appearances in the 1950s at the Pedralbes circuit in Catalonia, the Spanish GP began to be held uninterruptedly from 1967, alternating between the Jarama and Montjuïc circuits.

Following an accident in 1981 at the Montjuïc circuit in which 4 spectators died, the Spanish Grand Prix was not held between 1982 and 1985. From 1986 on a new venue hosted the event: the newly built circuit of Jerez. However, Jerez only lasted until 1990, as the Catalan Parliament had planned since 1986 to build a Formula 1 circuit several kilometers away from the city of Barcelona.

In 1989 the construction of the circuit began and in 1991 it was completed and inaugurated, succeeding Jerez that same year as the venue for the Spanish Grand Prix. Since then, the circuit has hosted the Grand Prix uninterruptedly, among other competitions, and due to the characteristics of the track it has been used on numerous occasions to host pre-season sessions, so it is a circuit that both drivers and engineers know very well.

Due to its economical prices and location, and with the rise of Fernando Alonso during the 2000s, the event has become one of the most popular races to attend, with thousands of fans from Spain, France, and other regions of Europe attending each year. It is not one of the most action-packed circuits, but the atmosphere is truly unique.

Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya: Layout Guide

Since the first race, the layout of Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya has changed little. For the 2023 edition, the most considerable change has been introduced, which is the elimination of the last chicane. Thus, the new layout is 4.657 km long and has 14 turns. It is a track that, as we have said before, is very complete, with sectors 1 and 2 very fast and a slower and more technical sector 3.

The long main straight ends in a long right-to-left chicane, where braking is very late, and which is one of the few overtaking points of the track. The chicane leads into the long right-hand turn 3, which is very important to take well to enter turn 4, a 90º right-hander. Next is turn 5, left-handed, which due to the downhill is made blindly and where only a little braking is needed.

After turn 5 there is a small curved straight that leads to a left-to-right chicane, super-fast, and where it is very easy to lose control of the car. The chicane is followed by turn 9, which is flat out and leads to the back straight, the second DRS zone.

The back straight leads into sector 3, the slowest of all. Turn 10 is a hard braking point where you can also overtake, and is followed by the fast turn 11, where you have to brake at the end to take turn 12, a wide right-hand hairpin. After turn 12 there used to be the last chicane, but in 2023 it has been removed, so the last two corners are flat out and lead to the main straight.

Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya: Onboard Lap

Max Verstappen, with a lap time of 1:18.149 in 2021 holds the race lap record on the latest version of the circuit, used in 2021 and 2022. Fast lap times at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya have varied over the years due to the different versions of the track used and the evolution of the cars.

In 2022, Charles Leclerc took pole position with a time of 1:18.750, which was two seconds slower than the previous year’s pole, due to track conditions and the regulatory change of the cars. The Monegasque completed a perfect lap around the circuit to take the pole by 3 tenths over Verstappen. Let’s take a look at the onboard.

Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya: Weather

The Spanish Grand Prix is usually held in late May or early June. During this time of the year, the maximum temperatures are usually between 27ºC and 23ºC on average, and the minimum temperatures are between 20º and 16º on average. Therefore, temperatures are quite comfortable, without being too hot or too cold.

Likewise, these are quite dry months, in which it hardly rains for 3 or 4 days during the month, so the probability of precipitation is very low. All this makes it an ideal weekend to visit, in which the good temperature makes it a very enjoyable Grand Prix in all aspects.

Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya: Curious Facts

  • Until 2013 the track was known only as the Circuit de Catalunya before a sponsorship deal with Barcelona City Council added Barcelona to the track’s title.
  • The track has stands with a capacity of 140,700.
  • The construction of the circuit coincided with the preparations for the Barcelona Olympic Games, which were held in 1992. The circuit hosted the start and finish line of the road team time trial cycling event.
  • All winners between 2007 and 2016 were different: Felipe Massa, Kimi Raikkonen, Jenson Button, Mark Webber, Sebastian Vettel, Pastor Maldonado, Fernando Alonso, Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg and Max Verstappen.
  • Because it has been used so many times for pre-season testing, Catalunya is probably the most familiar circuit to drivers and teams. Therefore, many people have complained that this may be the lack of action at the circuit, as everyone knows the limits very well.
  • On the hill to the right of turn 7 is La Moreneta, an old farmhouse that existed before the circuit was built and now houses its offices.
  • A total of 16 giant screens allow spectators to follow the race live from any grandstand on the circuit.
  • Located on the main straight, next to the pit lane exit, there is a large scoreboard inspired by the one at the Indianapolis circuit, showing the top ten finishers and the laps remaining to the end of the race.
  • The circuit is located in an elevated area with respect to its surroundings, so the wind direction has a significant impact on the track and is known to change drastically during the day.
  • From 2013 to 2021, all pole positions at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya were achieved by Mercedes. Nico Rosberg took 2, Valtteri Bottas 1 and Lewis Hamilton 6.

Remarkable F1 Races At Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya

1991 Spanish Grand Prix

The first Spanish Grand Prix held at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya was one of the most epic races of the last decades, in which there was a real battle of titans. Gerhard Berger’s McLaren started from the pole position, followed by Nigel Mansell and Ayrton Senna, while young star Michael Schumacher started fifth.

On Sunday it rained heavily before the race but stopped raining by the time the race started. At the start, Schumacher moved up to third, while Senna moved into second and Mansell fell back to fourth. Shortly after, Mansell passed Schumacher again, in a great move around the outside, and began an epic fight with Senna for second place leaving us with one of the most beautiful images of F1.

For about 500 meters, Mansell’s Williams and Senna’s McLaren ran parallel, with just a few centimeters between them, and at the end of the straight the British driver overtook him on the inside. Then, the drivers started to make their pit stops, and there was great chaos that shook the grid, with some bad stops and some good ones, putting Berger, Senna, Mansell, and Schumacher in line.

The track was still slippery, and Senna spun and lost a lot of time, while Berger and Mansell were fighting for the victory. Mansell managed to overtake Berger, who then spun, to take a fantastic first victory at Catalunya, ahead of Prost and Patrese.

1996 Spanish Grand Prix

The 1996 Spanish Grand Prix saw one of the best-wet weather drives in Formula 1 history, featuring Michael Schumacher in his first year with Ferrari. The German qualified third, behind the dominant Williams of Jacques Villeneuve and Damon Hill.

In the race, the rain was very heavy and there was very little visibility, and the German had a bad start, dropping to sixth position. However, after the bad start, the Kaiser completed an incredible comeback, without making any mistakes and completing overtakes while also gaining positions due to the mistakes of the other drivers.

Schumacher was lapping one second faster than any other driver, and by lap 12 he was already in the lead. The German dominated the entire race, in which only six drivers finished, and took his first victory for Ferrari 45 seconds ahead of second-placed Jean Alesi.

2006 Spanish Grand Prix

The 2006 Spanish Grand Prix was very special for the local fans. The national hero, Fernando Alonso, started from the pole position, and on Sunday completed a masterful, consistent, and error-free drive.

The Spaniard dominated the entire race from start to finish but was under great pressure at all times from seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher, his greatest rival at the time, who was unable to overtake him. Thus, Alonso achieved a masterful victory in front of the packed grandstands, followed by the Kaiser and the other Renault, Giancarlo Fisichella, and continued to score points for his second title.

This was the first victory by a Spaniard in the Spanish Grand Prix since 1913, a feat that only Alonso himself repeated in 2013.

2016 Spanish Grand Prix

The 2016 Spanish Grand Prix will be remembered for Max Verstappen’s epic victory in his first race with Red Bull, in which at 18 years and 226 days he became the youngest winner in Formula 1 history. In qualifying, both Mercedes occupied the front row, followed by the Red Bulls of Daniel Ricciardo and Verstappen.

In the race, the Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg collided on the first lap and retired, leaving the way clear for the rest of the teams. After the Safety Car, the race resumed, with Ricciardo, Verstappen, Sainz, Vettel, and Raikkonen as the top 5.

Shortly after, Verstappen overcut Ricciardo to overtake him, and in the closing stages of the race, the Dutchman was chased by the Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen, who finally could not overtake him, to achieve a first masterful victory in Formula 1.


Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya has hosted the Spanish Grand Prix uninterruptedly since 1991, where some of the most memorable moments of recent times have taken place, with epic battles, masterful victories, and unexpected results.

With long straights and a variety of corners, it is an all-rounder circuit that has not only hosted the Spanish Grand Prix but has also hosted pre-season testing on numerous occasions, so both drivers and teams are very familiar with its layout. It is also an ideal circuit to attend, due to the great accessibility and good weather.