As you may have realized, one of the regular F1Wolf readers and commentators lives nearby the Barcelona F1 circuit. Unsurprisingly, he seems to know the track quite well. He sent over a long message with lots of tips how to make the most of the visit to the Spanish GP. I chose to turn his comment into a post. So here it comes, Spanish GP by Kotenok, I added few photos (courtesy of AT&T Williams) for decoration:
Everybody might be thinking now: “Teams are preparing already the few last details and gathering for the whole weekend competition”. That’s true!! In Montmeló everything is ready, they’re prepared for showing to the world another complete race weekend!
I’m expecting to hear the cars roar soon, while now the motor homes are being built and the drivers walk over the track to find out any changes since tests last week, and I’m really anxious! HEHE!!!
Since the first event in 1992, this circuit became one of the greatest! Catalonia’s International Circuit is the first of these tracks from the new-era, this circuit attached to his history 4 times the best GP organization (1992, 2001, 2003 and 2006). The circuit hasn’t been designed by hands of Herman Tilke, but nowadays includes some spots of his work.
As written in last F1 Racing (Spanish edition, at least), this year organizers will perform some surprise – something that the remaining circuits won’t have or can’t do. What is it??? I’m not expecting any anti-racism program, as Max Mosley promised since February (he and his FIA mates shall feel sorrier about other facts recently). The surprise could be the presentation of some young Spanish driver in a F1 team? It’s the aim of their campaign which RACC and Catalonian government are carrying out; they want to open the doors to a young talent in the F1 championship in 1 or 2 years. Except it, I expect any entertainment could happen this weekend! A new great race weekend with GP2 and Formula One as top events, also there will be Porsche Supercup and the little but fast Formula BMW.
My experience in the circuit is wide, and I can recommend through my opinion the best spots to follow the race and how to move inside the track – even if owning Pelouse (General Admission) tickets that don’t allow access to grandstands.
Main access gates are gates 3 and4. The East sector has maybe the best grandstands: F, E, K and J! The end of the main straight is incredible to follow the race; about a 20% of the circuit is able to be seen from there. But the best of all, the main straight give the possibility to see great overtakes in the first lap and also during the race on the first Elf corner. Also from there can be seen the climb up the hill of the Campsa curve. From the East sector, you access also the main grandstands. There you have the views of the straight ends, pit-lane and boxes. Also the VIP grandstands have been built just on the last curve after Grandstands I. They offer views of the pit-lane entrance and the heavy braking of cars (so they do not go over the speed limit). There is also cute zone for families to have a picnic.
Next, the South sector is possible to access from gate 6. Inside this sector is the Pelouse exclusive to the “Circuit Subscribers”, non-members have no access. This Pelouse is quite difficult to access – takes long walk to get there. It however offers great close views of the track action, the closest you can get to track on the whole circuit. In Southern sector there are grandstands around fast curves and many Pelouse zones. A, is a grandstand that faces the main straight and provides views of the first three corners, Elf and Renault. From A can be taken pictures of great quality, but a great zoom is needed to do it because it is quite far from the action. (The end straight speeds means an enormous gravel run off area.).
I never sat on grandstand L, because to me it does not look interesting. It looks down to curve one Renault. The only thing that can happen there is an overtaking (lapping) of some slower car. This corner is fast and never-ending. Few things ever happen here and it is even not possible to see a television from there.
Further, in the grandstand M everything seems different to me, there is a 20 sqm TV screen, the biggest ever installed in a F1 race!!! And the view to a slow corner can be exciting, when a car suddenly stops coming from a fast corner and a little straight. It’s a beautiful moment when they change the direction going down. In this South sector I recommend everybody with Pelouse tickets to walk a little bit; this year will be less people with tickets of this kind than other years, Pelouse I mean, and this allows you to change more places and see the race up to your taste. Corner 4 and 7 are really enjoyable .
Next is Western area that can be accessed via gates 7 and 1. It’s quite the fastest sector of the circuit. There is one pretty place to be seen, most of drivers say this is the most amazing corner in F1 season since Suzuka’s 130-R disappeared from calendar. It’s true, the freaky feeling in this corner is awesome in a simulator, I can’t imagine it alive. This corner that I’m talking about is Campsa curve, known as ‘La Moreneta’ (The Brunette) because there gravel is dark there. Here, in Catalonia, this name means something else very important to our culture. This is a corner that drivers describe: “We can’t see how it turns, it’s a blind curve, we just hold our breath and steer expecting to do it good”. Campsa, turn 9, has a TV screen and can be seen from the upper grandstands N and Pelouse zone in front of it, close to the bridge crossing the paddock entrance.
From the lower N grandstands it’s possible to see the cars going up at terrific speed past the 7th turn of the circuit. It’s nice to see but there isn’t an overtaking point or a part to take care specially. Of course there is a TV screen that allows to follow the race in front of turn 8. On the hilltop, after turn 9, there is a fun zone at every race and a wide Pelouse zone. There the Nissan turn any more. This has been converted to run off area as it is a fast straight. Up to the end of this straight are the second VIP grandstands, looking to the turn 10.
Northern quarter is the epicenter for F1 Spanish fanatics, access is gate 2. This zone is called “The Stadium”, and it’s composed of a snake of grandstands; B, G, C and H, provides a view over the 35-40% from the circuit. Could somebody imagine following with his or her view a F1 car during so much time during a race? In the Spanish GP this is possible! This complex is composed by turn 10, La Caixa, turn 11, Banc Sabadell, turn 12, Europcar, and the new turn 13 and 14, chicane RACC and New Holland. Some places from the grandstands can have better view than others, but the Stadium is the best place to see Formula One cars. However there are not many overtakings there, in spite of being a slow sector.
Well, I hope this explanation help somebody to enjoy the race this weekend or to enjoy someday the visit to this circuit during a race! To be the first in Europe in the F1 Season calendar makes the grandstands full, circuit usually reaches 80% to 100% of its capacity.
Photos: AT&T Williams / LAT