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Previewing the 2015 Pirelli Spanish Grand Prix

Gaurab Sinha
1.45K   //    08 May 2015, 10:17 IST
Season’s First European Race is ready

Round 5 of the 2015 Formula 1 season is here, and Spain’s Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya is the venue for it. Officially called the Formula 1 Gran Premio de Espana Pirelli 2015, this will be the 45th occasion that an F1 Championship race has been held in Spain, and the 25th time that Catalunya will have played the host to it.

After the initial 4 fly-away races, Spain is F1’s first pit-stop in Europe this season. And, Mercedes and defending World Champion Lewis Hamilton would like to continue their dominance across this continent too.

The layout of the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya:

The 4.655 Kilometers long Circuit de Catalunya is regarded as an all-rounder by all the Formula 1 outfits. The track is very technical in nature and is full of corners, 16 in total, which demand maximum out of a car’s aero parts and balance.

The layout of the track includes 1 long straight, which is the start-finish stretch, and the small back straight before turn 10. The 2 DRS zones last year were also located in these two places, with 2 different detection zones for them. All 3 sectors of the track are well balanced in terms of all aspects, and hence demands a great deal from the drivers and the cars.

Teams are also well accustomed to the track at Barcelona, as it is a regular feature on the F1 calendar. Also, Catalunya was a winter testing venue this year; hence all the teams (apart from Marussia-Manor) already have a decent amount of data about the track.

The track surface here is not the best, but it still decent enough. However, following a car here is not easy. Besides, good traction is needed here out of the slow corners, especially in the final sector.

The long start-finish straight

The Tire and the Pit Strategy:

The pit lane length at the Circuit de Catalunya is 331 meters long, and like last year, 2 stops will be the preferred option for all the teams. However, do not be surprised if a more dynamic 1 or 3 stop approach is used by some drivers, especially the ones who are out of position after qualifying. 

Pirelli, like last year, is also bringing two of its hardest tires from their compound repertoire to Barcelona. The orange circled hard and the white marked medium will be used by all the teams during the 66-lap race on Sunday afternoon. Expect all the drivers to go for a Medium-Medium and Hard tire stint during the race. Qualifying is quite crucial in Spain, as nearly 75% of the total pole sitters have gone on to be the eventual race winners here. That’s because, overtaking here is not the easiest. 

Driver Changes for the Practice Sessions:

Williams is all set to put in Susie Wolff as their Friday driver this weekend during the first practice session. It is however unclear whether she will replace Felipe Massa or Valtteri Bottas, although it is more likely that the Brazilian might have to give way. This will be the third time that Wolff has stepped up for a Friday drive, as last season she was given the chance by Williams at the British and the German rounds.

Over at Lotus, Jolyon Palmer is all set drive again this Friday during the first practice session. This will be the 3rd outing for the Brit this season, having previously deputized for Romain Grosjean at the Chinese and Bahrain GPs. Again it is unclear for which Lotus driver Palmer will step in for, this time around, but again the odds are at the Frenchman’s seat.

Both Palmer and Wolff will have to move over before the second practice session though, as all regularly drivers will be present for it.   

The current form book:

With 4 poles and 3 wins in the first four races of the season, Lewis Hamilton is certainly looking like the best bet for a back-to-back triumph at Spain. Hamilton, since last year, has finished on the podium in the last 11 races, and he has won a total of 9 in them.

But, teammate Nico Rosberg and Ferrari pairing of Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel will try to break the World Champion’s party, especially during qualifying.

Down the order, Williams look all alone as the best of the rest. While Lotus, backed by their new upgrade packages, will look to challenge Red Bull. The lower-mid field is quite congested, as teams like Force India, Toro Rosso, Sauber, and even McLaren, will all be charged up to score some decent points. While, Marussia-Manor will once more make up the rear of the grid.

Since Catalunya is the first European stop for all the outfits; a fruition filled race here can set a good tone for rest of the season. 

The 2014 Podium for the Spanish Grand Prix

Last 5 Winners of the Spanish Grand Prix:


Driver (Nationality)

Team Name


Lewis Hamilton (United Kingdom)



Fernando Alonso (Spain)



Pastor Maldonado (Venezuela)



Sebastian Vettel (Germany)

Red Bull


Mark Webber (Australia)

Red Bull

The Current Team and Driver records at the Spanish Grand Prix;

Most Wins (Drivers) at the Spanish Grand Prix:

Number of Win(s)

Driver (Nationality)

Team(s) and year of win


Kimi Raikkonen (Finland)

McLaren (2005) Ferrari (2008)


Fernando Alonso (Spain)

Renault (2006) Ferrari (2013)


Felipe Massa (Brazil)

Ferrari (2007)


Jenson Button (United Kingdom)

Brawn (2009)


Sebastian Vettel (Germany)

Red Bull (2011)


Pastor Maldonado (Venezuela)

Williams (2012)


Lewis Hamilton (United Kingdom)

Mercedes (2014)

Most Wins (as a team) at the Spanish Grand Prix;

Number of Wins

Team Name




1954, 1974, 1981, 1990, 1996, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2007, 2008, 2013



1975, 1976, 1988, 1989, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2005



1987, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1997, 2012


Red Bull

2010, 2011

Note: Only F1 world championship races counted, teams with minimum 2 wins listed.

Track Record:

2014 Pole Time: Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes 1:25.232

2014 Fastest Lap Time: Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull 1:28.918

Lap Record: Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari 1:21.670 (Year 2008)         

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