track scene of f1 cars racing in spain

Did you know the 1975 Spanish Grand Prix was the only time a woman has scored points in the sport? Since then, there have been a host of exciting moments in Spanish racing. Alternating between two of the most respected tracks on the calendar, do you know its illustrious history?

If not, then we can help. Read on as we give the essential Spanish Grand Prix facts and history. 

Spanish Grand Prix History

The first unofficial Spanish Grand Prix took place in 1913. It ran on a 300-kilometre road circuit at Guadarrama outside Madrid. As the race used touring car rules, it was not included in the early years of the modern world championship. 

A non-championship race occurred at the Jarama circuit in 1967 and joined the official calendar the following year. This was a new circuit built north of Madrid by the Royal Automobile Club of Spain. 

The race would alternate between this track and the Montjuïc street circuit in Barcelona until 1975. That year, five spectators died during a race, despite previous efforts to make the track safer. It would vanish from the calendar and at the start of the 80s, the Spanish Grand Prix would go altogether. 

1985 would see the race return. The Major of Jerez, a town in Andalusia, commissioned the building of the Circuito Permanente de Jerez. It would host the Grand Prix for five years.

lone f1 car racing down the track in spain

The Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya

In 1992 Barcelona hosted the Olympic Games. This resulted in a huge investment drive for sport in the city. Catalonia had been longing for a Grand Prix track for some time, and funding helped create the Circuit de Catalunya.

The track took two years to build and was designed in conjunction with Spanish drivers. Opening in 1991, it was even advertised as the Olympics of the Grand Prix. Its start and finish served as part of the road team time trial cycling circuit. 

Spanish Formula One would remain on this circuit indefinitely. English driver Nigel Mansell would win the first two races. Williams-Renault would take the team wins for the first four years of the race. 

In 2013, a sponsorship deal was signed with Barcelona City Council. This would see it renamed the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.

As well as being on the calendar of Formula One for over 30 years, it is also used for F1 testing. This is due to its temperate winter weather and excellent layout. 

Valencia Street Circuit

From 2008 to 2012, the European Grand Prix was held at the Valencia Street Circuit. This title was introduced in the mid-eighties and has since been held at locations as diverse as Germany to Azerbaijan.

The Grand Prix had an exciting, popular track that used the roads around the Valencia harbour. However, it would vanish due to funding after the economic downturn of the global financial crisis. However, since 2013, the Spanish Grand Prix has alternated between the Valencia and Barcelona-Catalunya tracks. 

many f1 racing cars competing in the spanish gp

Spanish Grand Prix Facts

The Valencia Street Circuit was the final place legendary driver Michael Schumacher would get a final Formula One racing podium place. The final race, which was named the European Grand Prix, was also won by local hero Fernando Alonso. 

Like most sports, the global COVID pandemic caused numerous problems with the Formula One calendar. The 2020 Grand Prix was originally scheduled for May but was pushed back to August. It took place behind closed doors and the following year, restrictions meant that only 1000 spectators could attend. 

Most Successful Drivers

Michael Schumacher was the most successful driver in Spanish Grand Prix racing history. Between 1995 and 2004 he had six wins at the Circuit de Catalunya. He also won one race with a huge winning margin of 51.988 seconds, lapping everyone up to the fourth position. 

Lewis Hamilton matched this in 2021. He secured his 100th pole position place at the 2021 event and went on to get his sixth win in Spain. Alain Prost, Nigel Mansell, Jackie Stewart, and Mika Hakkinen all have three wins.  

2012 would see the surprise win of Pastor Maldonado with his only win in F1. It was also the only time a Venezuelan driver would start at the front of the grid or get a podium finish. Johnny Cecotto is the only other Venezuelan to score points in the sport. 

Memorable Moments

The 1991 race at the new Catalunya track was an exciting, wheel to wheel affair. A wet to dry race would see numerous changes as Ayrton Senna's Mclaren car would be pitted against Nigel Mansell in his Williams vehicle. Senna would spin out on the wet, leaving Mansell to take victory at the track. 

Mika Hakkinen would have victory snatched from him in 2001. Cruising to an easy victory, his clutch exploded. He was only five corners away from the final flag and winning the race.  

2016 would be one of the most talked-about incidents in recent F1 history. Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg would collide on the opening lap, putting them both out of the race. Kimi Raikonnen would then push Max Verstapen all the way with Verstappen taking the win. 

This was his driving debut for Red Bull, and he became the youngest winner in Formula One history at the Spanish Grand Prix. Sebastian Vettel had previously held the record. 

Taking in a Race

Now you know these Spanish Grand Prix facts, visit a race. Not only do you get to see one of the most exciting events, but you will also visit one of the world's most beautiful cities. Clear your schedule and book the dates. 

Grand Prix Adventures should be your first stop. We can arrange all your trips, accommodation, and hospitality packages. Contact us here and let us organise your next trackside trip. 

crowd scene at the spanish grand prix


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