Your A-Z Guide to the 2021 Spanish Grand Prix
F1's first double header of 2021 heads to a familiar venue under the Barcelona sun.
Barcelona, Spain - Welcome to your A-Z Guide to the 2021 Spanish Grand Prix, the first double header of the 2021 season. A track that is intimately known by the drivers and teams, the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya will host its 31st Formula 1 Grand Prix. In this video, we'll look at all the circuit info, the important track alterations made for this year, the weekend notes, and some predictions for the race weekend. I Let's start by looks at the track facts for the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.
The Spanish Grand Prix found its permanent home in Barcelona when it first held an F1 race here back in 1991. The 4.6KM circuit is actually 20 meters longer in 2021 thanks to the Turn 10 modifications which we'll get to in our weekend notes. The circuit still has 16 corners overall, 9 to the right and 7 to the left. Barcelona is known for its variety of corners but the circuit does require a higher downforce setup as Barcelona has one of the lowest max speeds in F1 at 320km/h. You take your lap at full throttle 72% of the time with the help of two DRS zones on the main straight and between Turn 9 and 10. This track is well known for its difficulty to overtake so starting on pole is quite important. The pole position grid slot is located on the left hand side of the grid with the run down to turn one being the fourth longest of the season at 612 meters. Finally, during racing conditions, you lose around 17 seconds in the pitlane when making a stop.
Ferrari still hold the record for most wins in Barcelona with 27% of the total victories coming in at 8 all time. Since the dawn of the turbo-hybrid era, Mercedes have dominated and grabbed 6 victories all together to put them at a tie with Williams at 20% of the total victories. The Circuit de Barcelona Catalunya is the location of Williams' last Grand Prix victory in Formula 1 and it was quite a memorable one as Pastor Maldonado took his first and only victory in F1. The most successful current driver here in Barcelona is Lewis Hamilton who holds 5 victories all together. Kimi Raikkonen holds 2 victories around this circuit back in 2005 and 2008 and so does Alpine's Fernando Alonso who also had his last F1 victory in Barcelona back in 2013 for Ferrari. Vettel and Verstappen also have one win each in Spain with the most famous being Verstappen's 2016 debut win for Red Bull.
The Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya hasn't seen much safety car action in its history as their have only been 7 deployments of the safety car in 30 races leading to only a 23% chance of seeing one this Sunday. Much like the next race we'll go to in Monaco, pole position is crucial if you want to taste victory in Barcelona. 73% of race wins have come from pole position and only 17% have come from 2nd on the grid. Outside of the top 2, it's extremely difficult to win around here as only 7% of race victories in Barcelona have come from outside the top 2. Fernando Alonso's 2013 win from 5th on the grid was the lowest position a driver has ever won from at the Circuit de Barcelona- Catalunya.
Starting off the weekend notes as usual, we look ahead at the predicted forecast for this weekend in Barcelona.
Weather - Temperatures will be slightly cooler in Barcelona for this year with a high of 17 degrees on Friday, and a high of 20 degrees both Saturday and Sunday. At the time of recording, showers are being predicted for race day on Sunday with a 60% chance of rain and a total of 2-4 millimeters.
Tyres - Taking a look at Pirelli's tyre choice for Barcelona, they've gone with the hardest in their set using the C1, C2, and C3 tyres. Cooler conditions might help extend the life of the tyres, but the high energy demand of the track usually makes a one stopper difficult. The directions of the high and low-speed corners mean that the left tyres wear out quicker while the right tyres experience lower temperatures.
Turn 10 Changes - The track layout has changes slightly with Turn 10 being extended to improve safety. The left hander is now slightly wider which has allowed for a bigger run-off area and will also shorten the braking zone. The entry speed to the corner is now higher and overall the lap has been extended by 20 meters. Here are the rest of your weekend notes for the 2021 Spanish Grand Prix.
Kubica Makes 2021 Debut - Alfa Romeo reserve driver Robert Kubica will be driving in Barcelona for FP1 in replacement of Kimi Raikkonen. It is Kubica's first official session of 2021 after a brief filming day outing in February.
Vettel Getting Upgraded - Sebastian Vettel will receive the new parts on his AMR21 this weekend that his teammate had in Portugal. The updates are centered around the floor and diffuser area. Aston Martin are hoping the changes will bring them more race pace and performance.
It's going to be hard to end Mercedes' domination of this track as they have won all but one of the Spanish Grand Prix's in the last seven years... and that was because both cars crashed out on lap one. This weekend will really come down to who wins the qualifying battle on Saturday as overtaking is so difficult in Barcelona. It's difficult to follow cars out of Turn 16 as you enter the first DRS zone and even when you reach the end of it, the Turn 1 complex is a tricky place to try and get a move done. Last weekend in Portugal, Red Bull tried to tack on a little more downforce to try and get pole but it didn't work out and then lost straight line speed in the race. They'll want to go down that route again however as Barcelona doesn't require a lot of straight line speed and sector three is the most important when it comes to lap time as drivers find the most time in low speed corners. The RB16B has excelled in the high speed corners this season while Mercedes have clawed back an advantage in the traction zones in the past two races so I think the battle for pole will be super close. I'd lean to Mercedes being the favorites due to their dominance in Barcelona but we don't have any relevant data for Spain this year as testing was done in Bahrain. Elsewhere, I think McLaren should go well again in Barcelona as their MCL35M is friendly to it's tyres and should be able to extract more performance over the course of a lap and a race. Lando Norris is coming in as one of the hottest drivers in F1 so that momentum should continue on as he tries to hold onto third in the championship. I'll be on the lookout for Alpine and whether they can continue their progress from Portugal and also keeping a keen eye on Aston Martin. Sebastian Vettel made a personal step forward by reaching Q3 but it all feel apart for them in the race as Vettel and Stroll finished 13th and 14th. They're expected to bring some new parts to the car in Barcelona so let's see if those upgrades help a team who has been otherwise quite underwhelming in 2021.