The Spanish Grand Prix at the Circuit de Catalunya, which this weekend hosts round five of the 2010 FIA Formula 1 World Championship, has been a fixture on the F1 calendar since 1991. This year, with Fernando Alonso in a Ferrari car, huge crowds can be expected, echoing the vast numbers who turned out for pre-season testing in Valencia. The Circuit de Catalunya has traditionally favoured cars with excellent aerodynamic performance, while the long, fast sweep of turn three places a premium on tyre preservation, as the front-left is heavily loaded for several seconds each lap. Changes to the regulations for 2010 that brought in narrower front tyres and heavily fuelled cars are likely to make tyre preservation a key part of this year’s race strategy.
CHANGES TO THE CIRCUIT SINCE 2009
• The debris fence on the approach to turn 1 has been extended to the end of the run-off area.
FAST FACTS: SPANISH GRAND PRIX
• The 2010 Spanish Grand Prix will be the event’s 40th edition since 1951. Five circuits have hosted the race: the Circuit de Catalunya (nineteen from 1991 to 2009); Jarama (nine between 1968 and 1981); Jerez (five from 1986 to 1990); Montjuich (four: 1969, 1971, 1973, 1975) and Pedralbes (two: 1951 and 1954).
• Fernando Alonso is Spain’s only Formula One Grand Prix winner, despite his being the 13th Spaniard to have raced in F1. His first win, for Renault, came at the 2003 Hungarian Grand Prix, while at this year’s Bahrain Grand Prix, he became the seventh driver to win on his Ferrari F1 debut, the others being: Juan-Manuel Fangio and Luigi Musso (shared car, Argentina 1956); Giancarlo Baghetti (France, 1961); Mario Andretti (South Africa, 1971); Nigel Mansell (Brazil, 1989) and Kimi Räikkönen (Australia, 2007).
• The 1986 Spanish Grand Prix, at Jerez, holds the record for the closest Grand Prix finish. Ayrton Senna, for Lotus-Renault, pipped Williams-Honda’s Nigel Mansell by 0.014 seconds after 72 laps.
• The Catalan capital, Barcelona, is 35km from the circuit. One of the world’s great cities, and an international cultural destination, Barcelona hosted the Spanish Grand Prix in Montjuich Park – later extensively re-developed for the 1992 Olympic Games – four times between 1969 and 1975.
Length of lap: 4.655km
Lap record: 1:21.670 (Kimi Räikkönen, Ferrari, 2008)
Start line/finish line offset: 0.126km
Total number of race laps: 66
Total race distance: 307.104km
Pitlane speed limits: 60km/h during practice sessions; 100km/h during qualifying and race
[CONTENT COURTEST FIA]