Catalunya serves up another Spanish GP to forget

2015 Spanish Grand Prix Rate the Race result

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The 2015 Spanish Grand Prix did nothing to change the Circuit de Catalunya’s reputation for underwhelming races. An average score of 5.1 out of ten from F1 Fanatic readers is typical for this venue.

With the exception of Sochi Autodrom, which held its first race last year, no other venue on the current calendar has received consistently lower scores on average.

Just the track – or something more?

Typical race at Barcelona, you can’t do anything in this race. Its always car-dependent race.

Just show how fast that Mercedes is, easily one second per lap faster than Ferrari.

I think it’s about time I admit Formula One is not for me any more.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining, I don’t have a better idea for the rulebook, and I’m not one of the guys saying that if I don’t like it, no one likes it and it should change. To each their own. I’m just a long-time viewer and I admit I personally don’t like it any more.

It has become way too clinical, too artificial and too restrictive (both on and off track). It’s too dramatic and the whole lifestyle and opulence around it is slowly starting to swallow the sport itself. The whole of Formula One has become a synonym for questionable decisions and an example of how the powerful ultimately prevail over the powerless. Formula One has become one of those always-tense reality shows where you simply watch ultra-rich folks pretending to have a go at life. And it’s on pay-per-view too!

I don’t care about that. I’m just one of those guys who wants to turn the television on every other Sunday and watch a proper race. I want to see diverse, interestingly built, good looking, fast cars performing to their mechanical limit irrelevant of their tyres performance, DRS or fuel usage. I want to see drivers performing at the limit, battling it out on the track with every chance they get, not sports megastars and pay drivers hitting beeps, pushing buttons and driving at a given target. I want them to become heroes through their personalities, grit and performances, not through their PR agency and Instagram account. I want to see risky strategy calls fully dependent on the driver’s skills.

I want accessible quality coverage and commentary. I want to hear interviews that provide relevant information from relevant people, not just the usual “it will be difficult but we’ll see if trying to beat another team for seventh place is possible this weekend, because that’s our target”, or check if Rihanna likes it or how Hamilton’s brother is doing or whatever. I want proper informative team radio, not pieces of constant complaints cut in a particular way to enhance the drama.

I want to watch a race, not have an audio-visual, multi-dimensional entertainment experience. I want what the WEC has to offer. Not the premium, overpriced, corporate product that is F1.

Watching the Spanish Grand Prix a week after what was a brilliant sportscar race at Spa Francorchamps made it clear for me. That’s it. Sorry, F1, but it’s been too many disappointing years.
Antonio Nartea (@Tony031r)

It’s the same in all sports, you cant always expect a nail-biting finish every time, yet I always see F1 fans wanting more drama in every race.

DRS and overtaking

One striking feature of last week’s race was the drivers appeared to find it either impossible to get close enough to attack the driver in front, or had so much of an advantage they were easily able to get by using DRS.

In my opinion a thoroughly uninspiring race which has become somewhat representative of what F1 is nowadays. I just cannot get excited any more by a sport which I have followed to the point of obsession in the past.

It’s not the dominance by one team which is putting me off, as I still loved the sport during the Schumacher/Ferrari years. To be honest, I think it’s DRS which is the root of the issue.

In the past there was certainly less overtaking, but what a thrill when the move was finally made. It’s sickening to see aggressive, exciting drivers such as Raikkonen, Ricciardo and others left entirely defenceless by a system which makes overtaking a formality rather than an art.
Ben Needham (@Ben-n)

I hate DRS mostly because they make the activation zones too long (therefore creating freeway passes instead of chances to pass), but Barcelona has always been a parade. Unless is raining at Barcelona, the track is the ultimate poster child as a track ‘needing’ DRS.

For example, the 2008 race: Apart from the start of the race, only two passing manoeuvres were recorded: Heidfeld’s lap 55 pass on Fisichella and Coulthard’s lap 61 pass on Sato. That’s right, two passes in the entire race — a fresh tyres Red Bull pass on a final race Super Aguri and BMW (at its peak pace in F1) on a first-year Force India.

Every race I feel myself falling more and more out of love with F1 and every time I see a race like today where DRS was too effective and we see a bunch of easy highway passes just speeds up that process.

I want to love F1, Its been my favourite category since the 1970s but I just really don’t like the gimmicks of the past few years and I find myself been drawn to things like the WEC, IndyCar and the GT categories like Blanchpain Endurance/Sprint series. Those series with no silly gimmicks like Pirelli tyres or DRS where there is a lot of real racing and real exciting hard-fought for overtaking are far more appealing now.

TV coverage

FOM’s race direction and the quality of coverage from regional broadcasters was also a cause of some grief.

I’ve just moved from Australia to the US and had the misfortune to watch my first full weekend on NBCSN. Just horrible coverage. Pumped full of ads, cross promotions and anything else they can think of to avoid showing live coverage.
Tyler (@Tdog)

I liked the updated head rest cameras, I still don’t like the overlay ads, especially if a Toro Rosso rim keeps glitching the ad. On the subject there was no overlay message, yay.
Pennyroyal tea (@Peartree)

It wasn’t the best race recently but it made the championship more interesting, had a few good moves and some memorable moments. I just wish I could have seen it live on the BBC.

I am glad that this Grand Prix was not one of the BBC live races, as if I had to choose at the start of the season which races to see live or which would be highlights only, this would be highlights only every time.

Did anyone notice how terrible the camera work and direction was? Seems whoever was cutting this was obsessed with close-up shots.(really irritating trend). Close-ups are the last thing you want especially at the start when any one who is actually interested in racing is trying to watch several battles at once.

What you need is wider shots so you can see what’s going on, not some close up following the leader round the corner so that you cant see what’s happening in context. Absolutely maddening! When yo do get some action the poor television coverage manages to miss what’s right in front of their faces.

2015 Spanish Grand Prix

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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67 comments on “Catalunya serves up another Spanish GP to forget”

  1. good track for testing
    useless for racing

  2. good track for 2 wheels

    1. Peppermint-Lemon (@)
      18th May 2015, 18:39

      Yup MotoGP is great here, formula one is hopeless.

    2. Good track for non-aero racing…

  3. Poor race all around really, little action up and down the field. Hamilton’s bad start and the teams poor pitstop meant there was no real race for the lead. The problem is, it’s followed be a race which is highly rated as an “event”/”party” the race however is quite often poor to very poor. If it wasn’t for the location and the money Monaco would have been cancelled a long time ago. Thankfully there are some good European tracks coming up and throw Canada in for good measure, which often produces some good races.

    1. I could give you +1000 for Monaco comment. Totally worthless race just so we could watch every 5 minutes wealthy snobs drinking 1000e drinks and not even trying to watch “race”. If that place had at list 1-2 overtaking spots without “doing a Perez” after a tunnel then it could be much better.This way i really want this track canceled ever since Mansel coudn’t pass Senna in 2 sec faster car in 92′.And that was not some “epic” Senna drive just useless track that if driver don’t make mistake passing is 100% impossible.

      1. Agree. The camera’s spend more time looking at barely dressed party girls on boats drinking champagne than they do on the track.

      2. Michael Brown
        18th May 2015, 20:52

        Well, I don’t know how Hungary manages to stay on the calendar. It’s essentially Monaco without the glamour.

        2000 Monaco Grand Prix: Hakkinen couldn’t pass Salo even though Salo had made no pit stops at all.

        1. Hungary’s produced quite a few interesting races in recent years though. Yes, it could do with a few less twists and one or two longer straights, but for some reason I’ve warmed to it.

          1. I remember people saying how boring Hungary was year in year out. Then Button won, and after that almost each year you knew that race was gonna spring some surprise.

        2. I´m a fan of turn 6 of the Hungaroring, the blind fast left-hander over a crest. It´s good to watch on onboards, it´s nice to drive online, and occasionally there are passes happening there, which, albeit seldom, are always kinda special when they happen.
          I also like the flowing turns 10 to 13 on onboards, especially in qualy, though it´s not a place where things in the race are happening.
          It isn´t a place for eventful races in the dry, but I like it, maybe fostered by those races that had some rain (even a bit is enough, due to the tarmac and the dirt nature puts onto it there, while the same few sprinkles don´t change anything on some other tracks). And outside the refueling/Bridgestone-era there were always some passes there, passing was difficult, but not impossible, on a number of different places, turns 1, 3, 6 (or fighting from 1 through to 6), 8 and 14.
          Furthermore, the Hungaroring provides huge areas with natural terraces where viewers can have a near-complete view over the track for comparably little money.

          There´s probably more than ten other tracks on the calendar I´d discard before thinking about the Hungaroring. Yes, that does put it into my top-9 of current tracks.

  4. I’ve got the feeling that when Hamilton (or another british guy) is winning, some people tend to forget that F1 is dull (in their opinion). But when he doesn’t perform well, incidently people start talking about dull tracks, tasteless DRS overtakings, stupid rules, bad engine noises, and how F1 has become worse since “the old days”.

    I believe the race was ok, we have seen worse and we have seen better. The fight between Hamilton and Vettel was interesting enough to keep my interest for the whole race, and I just don’t understand why there such a low score in this race (lower than China which was much duller in my opinion).

    1. I ABSOLUTELY agree with you on everything you just said!

    2. Hamilton performed well in Spain, he made one mistake which cost him the win but other than that his pace was good. He cant win them all. I rated the race badly because it was a dull race, just like I have rated races where Hamilton won badly because they were dull.

      However some people will rate it badly because their chosen driver didn’t win, just as people will rate a race bad simply because they don’t like who won, which is generally more prominent when Hamilton wins as he does has a big anti fan club.

      It goes both ways.

      1. I agree with you mostly, except that I am not sure any driver has an anti fan club as big as Vettel’s, minus the time between Malaysia and Bahrain.

        1. Hmm I think that would be true if he hadn’t of moved to Ferrari, Vettel had a massive anti fan club from Ferrari fans, but it looks as if his passion for the Ferrari brand has won over many of these. But yes it’s true he does also have a sizable anit fan base. Luckily for both Vettel & Hamilton they both have a fan base that outweighs their anti fan base.

          1. I’m sure that’s true for Hamilton and I thought the same thing for Vettel after Malaysia. But then came Bahrain and it’s like nothing’s changed. But yes I think you are also right about Vettel. We’ll see.
            Actually, nowadays it looks like no one cares about Alonso. Now that’s interesting.

    3. Hamilton would never ever pass Rozberg on track and that is clear with fact that he never had any real chance to pass clearly slower Vettel’s Ferrari. Car are simply much harder to follow this year then last year and if Rozberg regains his saturday form he could well give Hamilton trouble at list on tracks that are not easy for overtaking.In the end F1 is really worse AGAIN for follow/overtake car ahead after another nose rule change as we also saw in Bahrain where Vettel easy catch Bottas but never could pass him and Kimi similar with Bottas in Spain. In reality this year for overtake car on same strategy and tires you need to be almost 2 sec faster and that is insane.

      1. @dex022
        Exactly. And that is again because of the front wings “washing out”. So what do the geniuses that run the sport do for 2017? They want to make the cars even more wing dependent rather than using tunnels under the floor for downforce.
        That’s right….the half-wits are going to go with even larger front wings which will increase the dependence on them AND make them wider and more prone to be broken by any contact.

        ANYONE with engineering background, including people within the paddock today, are calling for less wings and more body downforce so they can pass without washing out and without the need for artificial DRS. Why won’t Bernie and company listen? What IS their issue?

        1. Don’t worry @daved, they’ll be able to pass during the refueling stops.

          1. @hohum
            LOL Yes, what a show of driving skills we’ll see then! Everyone can pass each other during pitstops and Bernie will have more of his “show”. Who needs on track passing? Who needs tyres that last long enough for a driver to actually push the car!
            Hey, maybe they could make the tyres even MORE fragile, add refueling AND spin a wheel during the pitstop with random numbers that tell the drivers how long they have to stay and refuel! Talk about a show!
            Imagine this: Lewis is winning at Monza, he comes in for his final pitstop and needs enough fuel for 22 more laps but the wheel of death says he only gets 3 seconds of refueling AND he can only change 3 of his 4 tyres! NOW we’re set for some real drama! Will he make it on fuel? Will one of his tyres blow up and make him crash out like a Maldanado doll?!?!
            I think I was right last year: They might as well go ahead and hire professional “wrestlers” to drive the cars. They could do steroid pumped poses before the race, threaten each other with death and dismemberment and hire “managers” in bikinis to run their pit crews.
            The fan base would grow and they could even do pay per view events….and that’s just in the American South! Every redneck in every trailer park in America would become an instant fan. Forget NASCAR.

      2. Weak tyres and limited engines meant that Hamilton couldn’t push hard against Vettel. It was the same with refuelling. Wait until you pit, get the undercut, overtake in the pits.

        1. @jarnooo
          Limited engines? You mean the 950hp that Merc is putting out already?

          The problem is the aero! They are so dependent on front wings for downforce that as soon as they get behind another car on the corners they wash out and lose all their downforce. This causes them to lose momentum relative to the car in front of them and they can’t make it up during the straight.

    4. The same way people love to hate on F1 because Alonso is not winning. So there been a lot of hate for a long time….
      But I agree with, the race was ok.

    5. @dan_the_mclaren_fan I disagree. We’ve read these complains for a long time. Also the lowest rated race is where Lewis won and that race in the past has been one of the stellar races. I think it’s just your viewpoint

  5. Catalunya serves up another Spanish GP to forget

    that pretty much sums it up for me

  6. Yes, the perfect race to have highlights only. The track itself, especially in its current spec. and the fact everyone knows exactly what to expect of the car here (I guess the lack of testing got McLaren this year) due to the endless miles of testing just does not give much hope of any surprises.

  7. This track doesn’t suit modern F1 cars racing each other. It’s narrow, abrasive and the main overtaking opportunity at turn 1 is rendered useless by the long final turn into the main straight; modern aero dependent f1 cars simply can’t follow close enough without help from better tyres and/or DRS on the straight. And yet we’ve seen the OWG and now the strategy group proposing changes to the cars to improve the racing. I know it’s not the only issue right now but if the show is so crucial, wouldn’t it be simpler and cheaper to change the track layouts at circuits like these to make overtaking and racing better? A one off cost for a circuit surely has to be more palatable than every team spending millions redesigning all the aero, which often doesn’t fix the problem. The FIA could even subsidise it.

  8. NBCSN coverage is truly and utterly awful, @Tdog hit the nail on the head. The commentators, while I respect (two of) them, are utterly awful at what they do and make all variety of child-like noises and inane comments throughout the awful, chopped up coverage. I go to great lengths to never watch that coverage and get hold of a Sky feed instead…. all very frustrating.

    1. I really like Steve and David, but wow, I miss Bob Varsha.

      But regardless of who the commentators are, the problem is that the Producers and/or Directors feel some strange need to show us sight-seeing tours DURING the race. It’s bad enough to have all the commercials and cross promos, but the local tours is WAY over the top. Show that garbage before the race! The sad part is that most of us Americans probably learn more geography from those bits than we did in school. :(

      But seriously, do they really have to advertise the Monaco race during the middle of the Spanish Grand Prix? Do they think the viewers who bother tuning into Spain would somehow forget Monaco exists?

      Just show us the race!!!

      1. @daved I always wondered what happened to Bob Varsha and why did they replace him?

        1. Varsha was under contract with Fox, whom they were desperate to keep seeing as NBCSN had raided Diffey, Hobbs, Matchett and Buxton for their F1 coverage – and FOX still had racing to cover outside of NASCAR.

          1. Oh yeah, that’s right FOX were the owners of Speed which had the coverage of F1 until NBCSN took over. Can’t believe I overlooked that fact haha @rjoconnell.

  9. If there were any justice in the world this would be one of the European races we lose for some Tilkedrome in a far-flung and ethically questionable locale that might at least have a chance of turning out alright. Instead it’ll be on the calendar forever and we’ll lose Spa or something.

    1. Just as Bernie gives Ferrari more money than any other teams because they are a “historic team” and more important than all the others to him, Maybe he should be giving the same treatment to the historic tracks instead of trying to squeeze the life out of them.

      Bernie said without Ferrari there is no F1, well to many many fans without the historic European tracks their is no F1. Yes you have to evolve and push into new areas but you forget where you came from at your own peril.

    2. A big +1

  10. A bad track for modern F1. The Spain GP must move to other circuit.

  11. plus the next track “Monaco” whether you like it or not is the most boring track out of all.
    round and round they go the front car slows the pack up because no one can pass,

    then we have Canada, a fantastic track, always a great race comes from here.

    I will definitely be watching the Indy 500. go the Kiwi Scott Dixon.
    at least it has continual passing different cars out front maybe 6-10 front runners, refueling, guarantee safety cars,
    all cars running on the edge, make a mistake and you normal have smashed your car.

    1. For me the problem with many oval races and this includes the Indy 500, is exactly just how many changes for the lead, SC periods, etc. happen, enough to make me think nothing really matters much, until the last 20-50 laps @lethalz; of course, a many hours race late on Sunday doesn’t make that easier to watch (… a problem that WEC races have for me too: too long, though I watch bits of them).

      1. @lethalnz, sorry typo in your name.

  12. Re: Philc’s comments about the camera work – have we formed a general consensus yet that FOM are directing the footage of the cars to an agenda?

  13. Lol, the usual “let’s blame the lame overtaking on DRS” mantra again.

    Yet it obviously doesn’t just make it easy for faster cars to overtake since the ones that could actually have provided us with a battle could’t even get close.

    What would be the real cause for the easy overtakes then? Hmmmm lets think about that for a bit. It’s obviously not DRS, what then? Is it round and black and made of eggshells perhaps?

    1. Don’t know what you’re on about. We all know DRS is a bandaid for a bleeding heart. They know it but are motivated by self interest to do anything about it

  14. Fernando Deutsch (@)
    18th May 2015, 17:22

    The Barcelona circuit was killed when they modified the last two turns with that horrible chicane. Before, there where two fast right corners which resulted in a faster exit to the long straight, which translates in more time on terminal acceleration at the end of the front straight, making passes more possible.

    Anyone knows why this change took place?

    1. Safety, the runoff was to small for the speed, so they butchered the track.

    2. @fdeutsch Either 1) for safety reasons, or 2) they thought it was too hard for cars to follow each other through the high speed section, so the chicane would present a chance to outbrake other cars and overtake.

    3. They said it was for safety because the grandstand was so close to the track coming out of that last corner and the high speeds made it too easy to lose it in that direction. So they put the “chicane” in to slow them coming onto the main straight.

    4. Michael Brown
      19th May 2015, 3:35

      A solution: use the old penultimate corner instead of the chicane, and reduce the speed of the final turn to 2nd or 3rd gear. The last corner would resemble the last corner at Sochi.

  15. Peppermint-Lemon (@)
    18th May 2015, 18:40

    Ditch Barcelona from the f1 calendar, replace with Imola!!

    1. With the new layout, I totally agree with you!

    2. Michael Brown
      18th May 2015, 23:12

      I support Imola with its new layout. Tilke removed the last chicane, making the straight going to Tamburello longer. Plus, it has elevation changes, barely any tarmac runoff, and is suitable for an F1 race. ELMS races there, and the racing is pretty good.

    3. If superbike races there, it ought to be good enough for F1 (concerning safety).

  16. We all know Catalunya provides boring races. With or without DRS, with Pirelli or with Bridgestone, with slicks or with grooved tyres: the track is just not suitable for an F1-race. We might as wel shake it off and get along with it.

  17. The sad part for F1 is that we have the two most boring tracks back to back with Spain and Monaco. So the only possible outcome for F1 is at least 4 weeks of bellyaching about how bad the sport is and how there are no passes or the only passes are DRS or the cars aren’t noisy enough or yada yada yada.

    Sad, but predictable as long as those two tracks are on the calendar. Especially with them back to back like this…guarantees that the month of May is a b*tch fest for everyone.

  18. Michael Brown
    18th May 2015, 20:58

    Can we have Valencia back?

  19. On the last comment from @Philc talking about TV angles, I completely disagree with him to an extent.

    At the start I agree that wider shots are better so that you can see the action behind, However once the cars have spaced out after the 1st lap or 2 wide shots are the last thing you want to see because the higher/wider shots kill the sense of speed which is why back in the late 90s when we were running the F1 Digital+ service we made a point of using lower/tighter shots to capture the feeling of speed.

    FOM have been moved towards high/wide shots over the past few years to get the trackside ad’s in & they got a lot of complaints from broadcasters/viewers so i’ve been told they will be moving back towards the low/tight shots that they used in the past which brought them a lot of praise from both broadcasters & viewers.

    1. @gt-racer, obviously F1 is a poor sport that can’t afford top-class coverage, It amuses me no end to watch Australian V8 supercars racing at some crappy track in the bush and get a far greater sense of speed than you ever get in F1 because they have “kerb cams” and apex cams with microphones which emphasise the doppler effect, can’t remember the last time I saw that on F1, however I must add the usual caveat, a lot of an F1 race doesn’t get seen due to frequent, lengthy commercial breaks.

  20. @Illusive

    Yes, Formula 1 fans always want more drama, but we know we can’t get it every time. This race still got a score of 5/10 – it’s not like it was 1/10. The fans who complain the loudest or most often don’t represent everyone.

    1. No they don’t represent everyone, that is why the score is averaged out between those who vote 10 because their driver won or the driver they most dislike didn’t, and those people who vote 1 because they were bored or the driver they most dislike won.

  21. I think Barcelona is better a little bit than Valencia. Valencia’s races were the worst races.

  22. I watched the race on Fox Sports in Australia as always with the sensational Sky Sports coverage- a pretty average race defined by a couple of pit failures. Then I watched the FTA highlights package with the BBC commentary- which actually made the race very interesting. Not much was omitted but could’ve Ben Edwards been a source of that? He gets very excited compared to Croft who does pick more up but.

  23. So the overwhelming message on this site is: F1 sucks.

  24. Worst track in f1 calendar.a driver can’t make any difference.

  25. Clearly it’s time for F1 to ditch Spain and replace it with Baku or Losail. :)

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