The Spanish Grand Prix, Round Five of the 2009 FIA Formula One World Championship, marks the start of Formula One's European season and the first of nine races to be held on the continent between the months of May and September.
Located just outside the vibrant city of Barcelona, the Circuit de Catalunya has hosted the Spanish Grand Prix since 1991 and has a demanding and varied layout which makes it a renowned testing venue and well known to the teams and drivers.
The 4.655km (2.892 mile) circuit has undergone a series of modifications during its 18-year history which has led to the loss of some of the track's high-speed edge but the combination of high and low speed corners still provides a technical and physical challenge for the cars and drivers.
Brawn GP completed a four-day test at the Circuit de Catalunya prior to the start of season with the new Brawn-Mercedes car.
ROSS BRAWN, TEAM PRINCIPAL
Q. After such a successful start, the team must be looking forward to continuing the challenge in Europe?
"The team had to make a tremendous effort simply to have two cars on the grid for the first race in Melbourne and the success that we have achieved has been a well-deserved reward for all our staff for their hard work which has been supported by the commitment of our engine partner Mercedes-Benz. The short break which we have enjoyed since returning from Bahrain has enabled the whole team to regroup at our factory in Brackley and spend a little time reflecting upon our first four races.
"Jenson, Rubens and the team delivered a first class job to win the Bahrain Grand Prix which is the level of performance that we must sustain if we are to seriously challenge for the championships this year. The field has compressed considerably since the season-opening race in Australia and the performance margins at the front are now very tight indeed. Whilst we have been away racing over the past few weeks, the factory has been working extremely hard on our upgrade package for the BGP 001 and we look forward to seeing the results of our development work on track in Barcelona this weekend."
Q. What are your thoughts ahead of the Spanish Grand Prix?
"Although the team only completed four days of testing at the Circuit de Catalunya in March this year, I know the track inside out and it feels very familiar to be heading back there for the start of the European season this weekend. You need to have a car with good downforce for a really quick lap there and we are fortunate that our car behaves so predictably which enables you to feel completely confident when committing to high speed corners. This can be a very difficult circuit for overtaking so you have to make the most of the run down to the first corner to capitalise on any opportunities at the start of the race. I visited the factory last week to join the team for a small celebration of our successes to date and catch up on the progress with our latest developments. We know that we have a real fight on our hands from here to maintain our lead in the championships but I am confident that we are well prepared for the challenges ahead."
Q. What are the key challenges of the Circuit de Catalunya?
"The Circuit de Catalunya feels like a home circuit for the drivers with so much of our pre-season testing taking place here over the winter. Although the track has lost some of the high speed challenge that it once had, it is still an interesting and physical lap to drive. You need to find a good rhythm to make the most of the combination of the high speed corners, particularly at turn three which is very fast and demanding, and the slow corners in the final sector of the lap. The long pit straight requires good aerodynamic efficiency and we will be thankful for the power of our Mercedes-Benz engine there. The Spanish Grand Prix is always one of my favourite races on the calendar as it feels like this is where the season really begins."
Circuit de Catalunya Stats
Circuit Length: 4.655km
Race Distance: 307.104km
Number of Laps: 66
Full Throttle: 64%
Brake Wear: Medium
Tyre Compounds: Soft / Hard
Downforce Level: High 8/10
Tyre Usage: Hard
Average Speed: 207kph (128mph)
-credit: brawn gp