Leon Van Gasteren from the Netherlands is back with his second trip report. Read about his experience at last year’s Spanish Grand Prix at Circuit de Barcelona Catalunya, outside Barcelona.
In recent years, we have been regular visitors to the Belgium Grand Prix at Spa Francorchamps. Although the circuit is awesome and very close to home in The Netherlands, we wanted to do something different for 2014. After some research, we chose to visit the Spain Grand Prix: The prospect of good weather, a popular track with excellent facilities, the first European race of the calendar and a comfortable hotel by the Mediterranean Sea convinced us. We booked our flights with a low cost airline and the flight times were well matched to the Grand Prix weekend schedule. The circuit was easy to reach from the airport by train; there’s a direct line (R2) from airport to Montmelo every 30 minutes.
On the Ground
We took off from Amsterdam Schiphol Airport at 6am and landed 2 hours later at Barcelona International Airport (BCN). The Renfe railway station was easy to find at the airport, and after some stops the train was loaded with many F1 fans. Fifty-two minutes later, we arrived at Montmelo train station and from there, it was a 30min walk to the entrance of the circuit. (Click here to learn more about getting to the circuit – Ed.) After some security checks, we arrived trackside at exactly 10am, right on time for first practice! My first impression was that the Circuit de Barcelona Catalunya is well-maintained and has many permanent grandstands with good views of much of the track. It’s also got lots of green areas, so it often felt more like being in a park than at a racetrack. (Read our Trackside guide for more information – Ed.)
The first day of the weekend in Barcelona is ‘Free Friday’, which means you can watch the action from any grandstand you want. We watched the first practice session from grandstand L, which gives you a great view of a big section of the circuit, including the first corner. We watched the start of the second practice session partially from the main grandstand in front of the pits and then moved to grandstand F, at the end of the main straight. This last grandstand was our favorite because it was very close to the track, with a great view of the first corner, where there’s always lots of action over the course of the weekend.
In the evening we went by train to our hotel in Callela, a very popular holiday destination with many pubs, clubs and restaurants. It was easy to entertain ourselves us in this town. On Saturday and Sunday, we booked an organised bus transfers to the circuit via a Dutch travel agency. We had General Admission tickets on the weekend, so we watched the sessions from the Pelouse area. This area is very large and there was no problem finding a good spot to watch the action.
- Free Friday (also with general admission tickets)
Great public transport
- The Barcelona area and Costa Brava has many great hotels & resorts
- Good choice of grandstands and a decent general admission area
- Overpriced food at the circuit
- (The circuit was also completely ‘dry’ in 2015. No alcohol could be brought into the circuit or bought inside! Hopefully this was just an aberration. Perhaps someone forgot to apply for the right permit this year? – Ed)
Cost, Conclusion and Tips
We spent €450 (just under $500 USD) per person, excluding spending money: €150 for the flight, €160 for the hotel (2 nights) + bus transfer (Saturday + Sunday) and €140 each for General Admission tickets incl. booking costs. The Spanish Grand Prix is easy to reach, especially from all over Europe, and the trip is easy arrange by yourself (low-cost airline, public transport and budget hotel).
Although the racing and trackside atmosphere is not up to the standard of more historic venues (such as Spa, Silverstone and Monza) it’s still is a great race to attend because of the good weather, good facilities and the possibility to stay in Barcelona or on the Costa Brava. I recommend making the most of Free Friday and sitting in as many grandstands as you can. You should also buy your food/drinks outside the circuit, as they are very overpriced inside.