Race Facts – Spanish Grand Prix

History, facts and background of the Spanish Grand Prix, which has been staged at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya since 1991

The Spanish Grand Prix, first contested over 100 years ago, is one of the oldest motor races in the world. Held frequently throughout the early 20th century, the race was hosted on numerous occasions at the Circuito Lasarte until the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War. The event returned at a new circuit, Pedralbes, in the 1950s. Since 1967, it has retained a spot on the Formula 1 calendar at a variety of venues including Jarama, Jerez and since 1991, the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya outside Barcelona.

Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya is also regularly used for winter testing, meaning the drivers and teams know the track very well. The Spanish Grand Prix looked set to fall off the calendar in 2020, but its immediate future was secured thanks to a cash injection from the local government. The longer term future of the event was secured in November 2021 with race organisers signing a new deal with Formula 1 to keep the Spanish Grand Prix on the calendar until at least 2026.

The 2020 Spanish Grand Prix, originally scheduled to take place in May, was pushed back to an August date due to the coronavirus pandemic. The event was one of many in the 2020 season to take place behind closed doors. In 2021, restrictions on spectator numbers were still in place, with only 1,000 fans able to attend the Grand Prix. 

One year later, with both Carlos Sainz and Fernando Alonso on the grid, the race weekend attracted a 4-day crowd of 277,836. The event also had its largest race day attendance figure since 2008; though there were many complaints from fans about the organisation of the event. In 2023, with Alonso back at the front of the field, attendance grew even further. The circuit enjoyed its second biggest-ever race day attendance, while the weekend attendance figure exceeded 284,000.

Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya underwent a number of changes ahead of the 2023 Spanish Grand Prix. Most notably, the chicane in the final sector of the circuit was removed. The final turn reverted to its pre-2007 layout. There were over 100 on-track overtakes in the 2023 race, partly as a result of the removal of the chicane. 

Multiple and Notable Winners

The Spanish F1 Grand Prix was a favourite of Michael Schumacher, who won the race six times in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Lewis Hamilton equalled Schumacher’s Spanish Grand Prix win record in 2021. Other multiple winners of the event include Jackie Stewart, Mika Hakkinen, Nigel Mansell and Alain Prost, each with three wins apiece. 

In recent years, the spoils have been more evenly divided. In fact, between 2007-2016, the Spanish Grand Prix was won by ten different drivers! That goes some way to explaining why only three of the current crop of F1 drivers have more than two wins at the circuit. In addition to Hamilton’s six wins, Max Verstappen has won three times (2016, 2022 and 2023) and Fernando Alonso has won his home Grand Prix twice (2006, 2013). 

Home Race Heroes: Spanish Drivers in F1

Fernando Alonso is Spain’s only Formula 1 champion. He has won on home soil three times; twice at the Spanish Grand Prix at the Circuit de Barcelona Catalunya in 2006 and 2013, and once at the Valencia Street Circuit in 2012. Attendance figures soared at the height of Alonso’s success. Read more about Spain’s Home Race Heroes.

In recent years, Carlos Sainz has enjoyed the support of his home crowd at the Spanish Grand Prix. He became the country’s second Grand Prix winner at the 2022 British Grand Prix. Sainz has an impressive racing record at the Spanish Grand Prix. Though he is yet to secure a home podium, he has never failed to score on any of his nine appearances at his home event. 

Spanish Grand Prix: Did You Know?

  • Circuit de Catalunya Barcelona also hosts a round of the MotoGP championship. Known as the Catalan Grand Prix, the race has been won five times by Spaniard Jorge Lorenzo
  • A second Spanish round in Valencia (known as the European Grand Prix) was held for five years between 2008-2012. The Valencia track was due to alternate with Circuit de Barcelona Catalunya as the host of the Spanish Grand Prix from 2013 onwards, but this failed to materialise.
  • The 2020 Spanish Grand Prix marked the first time in the event’s history, dating back to 2013, that the race had been held in August. It was also the first time F1 raced in Spain in August since the 2009 European Grand Prix.
  • Lella Lombardi is the only woman to have scored a top 6 finish in an F1 World Championship race. She recorded half a point for sixth place in the shortened 1975 Spanish Grand Prix on the treacherous Montjuïc circuit in Barcelona.

  • As well as Pastor Maldonado’s 2012 win being his only win in F1, it also marks the only time a Venezuelan driver has started from the front of the grid, finished on the podium or won a race. Maldonado is also one of only two Venezuelans to have scored points in the sport, the other being Johnny Cecotto.
  • Rubens Barrichello holds the record for most retirements at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. He failed to finish here seven times – one time more than Kimi Raikkonen. 
  • At the 1993 Spanish Grand Prix, Alain Prost, Ayrton Senna and Michael Schumacher all finished on the podium. By the end of their careers, they’d have 14 World Championship victories between them; the most to have ever finished on an F1 podium together.
  • While Michael Schumacher and Lewis Hamilton share the record of most wins for a driver at the Catalunya circuit (6), Ferrari are the team with the most wins (8).
  • Schumacher’s first win for Ferrari came here in 1996, which coincidentally was the last Spanish Grand Prix to be affected by rain.
  • Since it joined the calendar in 1991, only 12 podium finishes at this circuit have come from lower than fifth on the grid. Only three races at the track have not been won from the front row of the grid.

Memorable Moments in the Spanish Grand Prix

1991 Spanish Grand Prix: Senna vs Mansell

The very first F1 race at the Catalunya circuit produced a memorable wheel-to-wheel scrap between McLaren’s Ayrton Senna and Williams’ Nigel Mansell. After plenty of position switches and tyre changes from wet to dry, Senna lost his nerve and spun, leaving Mansell to become the first victor at the circuit. Watch the highlights. 

1996 Spanish Grand Prix: Schumacher shines in the wet

Michael Schumacher was in a class of his own at the wet 1996 Spanish Grand Prix. The hectic race saw plenty of drivers slide off the track, including polesitter Damon Hill. Schumacher snatched the lead from Hill’s team-mate Jacques Villeneuve and proceeded to set lap times three seconds faster than any other driver. He eventually won the race by over 45 seconds from Jean Alesi to take his first victory for Ferrari. Watch the highlights.

2012 Spanish Grand Prix: Maldonado’s only victory

After Lewis Hamilton was disqualified from the Qualifying result, it would be Pastor Maldonado who started from pole for the first time in his career. He faced no easy feat on Sunday, with Fernando Alonso starting alongside him on the front row. Predictably, Alonso overtook him at the start, but Williams’ pit-stop strategy and a super speedy out-lap while the Ferrari was stuck in traffic saw Maldonado emerge in the lead. He went on to take his only F1 win, as well at the only Grand Prix victory for a Venezuelan driver. It was Williams’ first win in eight years, and their latest so far in F1. Watch the highlights. 

2016 Spanish Grand Prix: Verstappen makes history

The first lap of the 2016 Spanish Grand Prix is notable for one of the most talked about incidents of recent times in F1, as Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg came together on the opening lap, ending both of their races. The crash paved the way for Max Verstappen to take an impressive victory on his very first appearance with the Red Bull team. It was hard fought for, as Kimi Raikkonen pushed the Dutchman all the way to the finish, with Verstappen winning by just over half a second. As a result, he became the youngest ever Grand Prix winner at 18 years and 228 days. Watch the highlights.

Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya Facts

Circuit NameCircuit de Barcelona-Catalunya
Race first held 1991
Track Length4.657km (14 turns)
Race Distance66 laps (307.236km)
Lap Record 1:16.330, Max Verstappen (Red Bull, 2023)
2023 Result1st Max Verstappen (Red Bull) 1:27:57.940
2nd Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) +24.090s
3rd George Russell (Mercedes) +32.389s
Spectator Capacity140,700

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