Barcelona, or the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya – to give the circuit its full name – is an enduring survivor. It’s been on the Formula 1 calendar since 1991 and not missed a single year, as well as being a regular fixture for pre-season testing. All this despite the fact that the track was actually removed from the calendar last year (before being reinstated).
It’s also had to deal with complex issues in the past that have ranged from economic difficulties, to soaring Covid rates, to unrest over Catalonian independence, and also accusations from some fans that the circuit is boring, which led to a chicane being installed in 2007 to help create more overtaking opportunities. The drivers and teams know the track like the backs of their hands, so another issue in the past has been teams not making full use of the free practice sessions, as they have a lot of the data that they need already.
Yet in spite of all these blows the race is still there, like a prize fighter who refuses to be knocked down. One reason why, of course, is the passion of local public (sadly not allowed to watch this year, due to Covid) and the support for Spanish drivers, with both Fernando Alonso and Carlos Sainz lining up on the grid again. What they’re hoping to see is a repeat of 2013 (the year that the Spanish Grand Prix celebrated its centenary): the last time that a Spanish driver won on home soil. And of course it was Alonso in a Ferrari, having fought his way up from fifth in qualifying: quite an achievement on a track where starting close to the front is almost essential.