Formula 1 will race on a revised layout of Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya at the 2023 Spanish Grand Prix, with the final sector reverting to its original configuration. Other trackside improvements have also been announced.
Header image courtesy Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya
The final sector of Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya will revert to its original layout for the 2023 Spanish Grand Prix. The changes to the track will see the final chicane removed for this year’s Formula 1 race, with the track’s high-speed, sweeping right hand turn being utilised instead.
The layout was last used in 2006. The removal of the final chicane means that the average speed of the lap will increase and overtaking opportunities should be improved. Ironically, the chicane was originally introduced in 2007 to improve overtaking opportunities, as well as being in a bid to increase safety at the track. However, the nature of the corners has been a major contributing factor to often forgettable races taking place at the track.
With cars now able to follow each other more easily since the introduction of the latest regulations in 2022, it is believed that a reversion to the old layout will aid overtaking on the main straight and into the opening corners.
The layout of the final section of track which F1 will adopt in 2023 has been used in MotoGP since 2018. The circuit has hosted MotoGP’s annual Catalan Grand Prix since 1996. To ensure safety, new TecPro barriers have been installed at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya’s final two corners.
The removal of the chicane has been a point of discussion for years and had been heavily rumoured over the winter due to various leaks of promotional material for the race prior to the official announcement.
With the changes approved by Stuart Robertson, Head of Circuit and Rally Safety at the FIA, and Niels Wittich, FIA Formula 1 Race Director and Safety Delegate, the revised circuit layout has already been homologated to FIA Grade 1 standard. With both layouts now approved by the FIA, each series that visits the track will have the option to run races either with or without the final chicane.
Further changes at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya
The changes to the final sector won’t be the only modifications to the circuit for the 2023 Spanish Grand Prix. Other track changes will also be introduced for the 2023 race. At Turn 1, the run-off area will be widened, with 70 metres of more gravel to improve driver safety. Work in this area is expected to be completed before the end of March.
A noticeable change will occur on the main straight where the striking timing tower at the exit of the pit lane will be replaced with a more modern scoreboard. Other minor changes around the track include the replacement and re-painting of kerbs and the renewal of tyre barriers.
Improvements after farcical 2022 Spanish Grand Prix
In 2022, the organisation of the Spanish Grand Prix left a lot to be desired. The event garnered its largest race day attendance in 14 years, but organisers appeared unprepared for the influx of fans. Those at the track faced a lack of available food and water, along with long queues for amenities. These issues were exacerbated by the hot weather conditions in which the race took place.
Problems were not just restricted to within the circuit gates. Getting to and from the track proved to be a challenge. Despite additional train services being laid on in anticipation of crowd numbers, fans faced three hour waits for trains. Taxis were also largely unavailable due to heavily congested traffic on the surrounding roads.
Whether or not such issues will be fixed for the 2023 race remains to be seen. Encouragingly, however, the circuit has announced some changes which should improve the trackside experience for fans. Included among them are the refurbishment of the circuit’s permanent toilet facilities.
Furthermore, those with hospitality tickets will benefit from an overhaul of the first floor of the pit building. The area will be enlarged and modernised, with the facility being turned into an open-plan space.
Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya has hosted the Spanish Grand Prix in every season since 1991. The Spanish Grand Prix holds a contract to remain on the calendar at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya until at least 2026.
The 2023 Spanish Grand Prix takes place on June 2-4 as the final event in a triple header of races, with races in Imola and Monaco running on the two preceding weekends. Tickets for the 2023 Spanish Grand Prix remain available.
F1 Exhibition to open in March
Elsewhere in Spain, the all-new Formula 1 Exhibition opens in Valencia in March. The first of its kind exhibition features six purpose-built rooms, curated by leading F1 journalists, historians, engineers, artists and film makers.
It was recently announced that the remains of Romain Grosjean’s Haas chassis from his dramatic crash at the 2020 Bahrain Grand Prix will be one of the never-before-seen artefacts on display at the exhibition.