The Circuit de Catalunya was built in 1991 and hosted its first Grand Prix that same year - it was won by Nigel Mansell. Construction coincided with the Olympic Games scheduled to take place in 1992 when the circuit acted as the start and finish for the road team time trial cycling event.
Because so much testing is done at the circuit, drivers, engineers and mechanics are extremely familiar with it, consequently this has led to criticism that this reduces the amount of on-track action.
When first used, overtaking was frequent as cars could follow closely through the last two corners and slipstream down the long pit straight. As aerodynamic balance became more critical, this drastically decreased as cars were unable to follow each other through the fast final corner due to turbulence. Consequently, in 2007 the first of the two final corners was replaced with a slow chicane in an effort to improve overtaking, however, it has yet to have a significant effect.
The circuit has been the site of some memorable moments. In 1991, Ayrton Senna and Nigel Mansell raced down the entire pit straight side-by-side while duelling for second place, with Mansell eventually taking the position and ultimately the race itself. In 1994, Michael Schumacher managed to finish in second place despite driving over half the race with only fifth gear. In 1996, the German took his first win as a Ferrari driver, after a dominant performance during a torrential rainstorm.
he 1999 race was notable as there was only one reported overtaking move during the entire Grand Prix. In 2001, Mika Hakkinen suffered a clutch failure on the last lap whilst leading, thereby handing the win to Schumacher. At the 2006 event, Fernando Alonso became the first Spanish Formula One driver to win at his home country's track.
The wind direction at the circuit can change drastically during the course of the day, a significant factor given the importance of aerodynamics to modern Formula One cars. Consequently, it is hard to find a good set-up since cars can have massive aerodynamic drag and understeer on one part of the circuit in the morning, but suffer oversteer at the same part of the circuit in the afternoon. A given tyre compound can work well when tested, but not so well a couple of months later. These changeable conditions can make for unexpected performances from some teams during races.
The Circuit de Catalunya plays host to many other racing series, including MotoGP. However, the chicane which was put in the penultimate turn for F1 does not play a part in the track layout for Moto GP.
Fast Facts - Provided by the FIA
2017 marks the 27th running of the Spanish Grand Prix at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. The circuit first held the race in 1991 and has been the home of the Spanish Grand Prix ever since.
Four other venues in Spain have hosted Spanish Grands Prix. They are: Barcelona's Pedralbes street circuit (1951, 1954) and Montjuïc (1969, 1971, 1973, 1975). The Circuito del Jarama, near Madrid staged races in 1968, 1970, 1972, 1974 , from 1976-1979 and in 1981, while Andalusia's Circuito de Jerez hosted the event from 1986 to 1990.
Michael Schumacher remains the most successful driver at the Spanish Grand Prix, with six wins, all of which came in Barcelona. The first was scored with Benetton in 1995 and then he won for Ferrari in 1996 (his first for the Scuderia) and from 2001-2004.
Just two current drivers have multiple wins in Spain - Kimi Raikkonen (2005 for McLaren and 2008 for Ferrari) and Fernando Alonso (2006 for Renault and 2013 for Ferrari). Four other drivers racing this weekend have stood on the top step in Barcelona: Felipe Massa (2007, Ferrari), Sebastian Vettel (2011, Red Bull Racing), Lewis Hamilton (2014, Mercedes) and Max Verstappen (2016).
Verstappen's win here made him F1's youngest ever winner, aged 18 years and 228 days. He took the record from Vettel who won for the first time at Monza in 2008 aged 21 years and 74 days.
Just three other drivers have taken their maiden win at the Spanish GP. Driving for Ferrari, Niki Lauda scored the first of 25 career wins at Jarama in 1974. Jochen Mass took his one and only F1 win in Spain in 1975 with McLaren and Pastor Maldonado took his only F1 win to date
in Barcelona in 2012, with Williams.
Ferrari are the most successful team at the Spanish Grand Prix with a dozen wins, eight of which were scored at the Circuit de Catalunya. McLaren have eight wins, four being scored in Barcelona. However, Williams are the second most successful squad at this venue. Six of the team's seven wins in Spain were achieved in Barcelona. The odd one out is their first, at Jerez in 1987.
This weekend marks the 40th anniversary of the team currently known as Williams Martini Racing. After periods in the sport under the Frank Williams Racing Cars name and then with Walter Wolf Racing, Frank Williams, in partnership with engineer Patrick Head, set up Williams
Grand Prix Engineering in 1977. The team made its F1 debut at the 1977 Spanish GP, with Patrick Nève finishing 12th.
Two teams scored first wins in Spain - March in 1970 and Tyrrell in 1971. Both came courtesy of Jackie Stewart.
Aside from the maiden winners here, seven other drivers have appeared on the podium for the first time at the Spanish GP: Luigi Musso (P2, 1954), Brian Redman (P3, 1968), Mario Andretti (P3, 1970), George Follmer (P3, 1973), Gunnar Nilsson (P3, 1976), Johnny Herbert (P2, 1995), and Daniel Ricciardo (P3, 2014).