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
2018 marked the 48th Formula 1 World Championship Spanish Grand Prix and the 28th edition 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 have hosted Spanish GPs. The first event place at Barcelona's Pedralbes street circuit in 1951, with a second race taking place in 1954. After slipping off the schedule, the grand prix returned in the late 1960s, alternating between Madrid's Circuito del Jarama (1968, 1970, 1972, 1974) and Barcelona's Montjuic (1969, 1971, 1973, 1975). Following the cessation of F1 racing at Montjuic, Jarama hosted races from 1976-1979 and in 1981, while the Circuito de Jerez featured from 1986 to 1990.
Michael Schumacher is the most successful driver at the Spanish GP, with six wins (1995-'96, 2001-'04). All the German's victories were scored in Barcelona. A quartet of drivers share second place on the list, with three wins each: Jackie Stewart (1969-'71), Nigel Mansell (1987, 1991-'92) and Alain Prost (1988, 1990, 1993).
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. The Scuderia's first win in Spain was at the 1954 Pedrables race courtesy of Mike Hawthorn and its most recent was in 2013 with Fernando Alonso. McLaren is next on the list with eight Spanish GP wins, although only four were scored in Barcelona.
Five Spanish Grand Prix winners will line up on the grid this weekend: Kimi Raikkonen (2005, 2008), Fernando Alonso (2006, 2013) Sebastian Vettel (2011), Lewis Hamilton (2014, 2017) and Max Verstappen (2016).
Schumacher again leads the way on pole positions at the Spanish GP, with seven - in 1994 and 1995 and then with a straight run from 2000-2004. Hamilton has the most Spanish GP pole positions of a current driver, with three. All three were achieved with Mercedes, in 2014,
2016 and last year.
Grid position counts for much here. In only three of the 27 grands prix run to date at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya has a win been scored from beyond the front row of the grid. Michael Schumacher took victory from third place on the grid in 1996, Max Verstappen, scored his maiden grand prix win after starting the 2016 edition from fourth place, while Alonso is the current record having scored his 2013 from fifth place on the starting grid.
Of the current grid, home hero Alonso also takes the honours for most podium finishes in Barcelona, with seven. His first taste of champagne in Spain was in 2003, with second place for Renault. He brought the Anglo-French team two more podiums, in 2005 (P2) and 2006 (P1). In his 2007 he finished third at the wheel of a McLaren. In 2010 and 2012 he was second for Ferrari, before taking his most recent F1 win, again with the Scuderia, in 2013.
It's 44 years since Mercedes nonexecutive director Niki Lauda won for the first time in his F1 career, at the 1974 Spanish Grand Prix at Jarama, driving for Ferrari. The Austrian would score a further 24 victories, the final one arriving with McLaren at the 1985 Dutch GP.