McLaren is hoping to rebound in Spain after a dismal race in China.
After four long-haul races to kick-start the season, the European leg of the 2014 Formula 1 World Championship begins this weekend. The Spanish Grand Prix takes place at the Circuit de Catalunya, near the vibrant coastal city of Barcelona, where an eclectic mix of fast and medium-speed corners awaits.
Circuit de Catalunya facts & stats
The track was one of Barcelona’s many building projects ahead of the 1992 Olympic Games. It staged the time trial cycling events during the Games, but it’s now far better known as the permanent home of the Spanish Grand Prix.
The circuit was completed in September 1991 and it has been a fixture on the Formula 1 calendar ever since. This is the 24th consecutive year that the track has staged a grand prix and it’s been a popular testing venue throughout that period, thanks to its flowing layout and long, aerodynamically critical corners.
Only three of the 16 turns are taken at speeds below 100km/h; the rest are medium- and high-speed corners that reward efficient levels of aerodynamic downforce. There are also two long straights, so a car that performs well around the Circuit de Catalunya usually works well at most racetracks on the calendar.
There have been several alterations to the layout over the years, the most recent coming in 2007 when a chicane was added in the final sector, increasing the length of the track by 28 metres and reducing the average lap speed by 12km/h.
The run from pole position to the apex of Turn One is 730 metres – the longest of the entire season. As a result, a good start is vital because a lot can be won and lost during the opening 10 seconds of the race, before the cars hit the brakes for Turn One.
The combination of old, abrasive asphalt and high-speed, high-energy corners makes this a demanding race for tyres – the left-front in particular. To cope with these stresses, Pirelli are taking the two hardest compounds in their range to the race: Hard (Prime) and Medium (Option).
McLaren has an excellent record at the Circuit de Catalunya. The team has won at the track eight times, its most recent victory coming in 2005. Jenson Button has taken the spoils once – during his championship season in 2009. Kevin Magnussen has never driven an F1 car at Barcelona, but he has plenty of experience at the circuit from the junior categories.