Circuit de Catalunya: A Race Track for Everyone:
With a wide variety of corners, from sweeping, high-speed corners to a tight, low-speed final sector, to one of the longest Formula One straights — a kilometer, or more than half a mile, long — the 2.8-mile track requires excellent aerodynamic downforce and efficiency, engine power, and both good tire grip and mechanical grip. It is therefore considered to be the best test track, and all the teams use it to develop their cars during the winter. As a result, it is the track that all the drivers know best.
It is also the site of one of the two F1 races now held in Spain and therefore one of two home races for several Spanish drivers: Fernando Alonso, Jaime Alguersuari and Pedro de la Rosa.
“It is a very demanding circuit — tough on the cars, the engines and the drivers,” he added. “Turn 3 is very fast and very long — it is a true neck killer.”
The Circuit de Catalunya is a challenge for the teams and drivers
Given the wide range of technical challenges, the cars that perform the best at this circuit also tend to be the best overall at the widest range of circuits throughout the season. It is likely, therefore, to favor the top teams: Ferrari, McLaren Mercedes, Mercedes and Red Bull.
“There are some fast corners, like Turn 9 and the final corner, but the majority of the track is made up of pretty long corners where you really need the car to do all the work,” said Jenson Button, who won in Barcelona last year. “It’s a circuit that really rewards precision, and punishes aggression.”
It is not as punishing to engines — with only about 60 percent of the lap time being on full-throttle — but engine power is particularly important on the straight, which drivers say seems to go on forever, as it takes about 11.5 seconds for a car to complete it.
The Circuit de Catalunya often produces processional races
Unfortunately, despite the course’s technical merits, the circuit often produces processional racing, as it is difficult to overtake — in part because all the drivers know it so well.
“It’s a great track, particularly for qualifying, and that can really be the determining factor of the weekend,” said the Williams driver Rubens Barrichello. “The priority is to achieve good speed going into the corners rather than focusing on the long straight.”