Hamilton glad Catalunya circuit’s slow chicane is gone: “I never liked it”

2023 Spanish Grand Prix

Posted on

| Written by and

This weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix at Barcelona will mark the first time since 2006 that Formula 1 uses a configuration of the track without the chicane at the end of the lap.

This track layout has not been used in official F1 testing, and the only driver with experience of a chicane-free Barcelona in an F1 race is Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso who contested five grand prix there prior to the chicane’s introduction in 2007.

Lewis Hamilton, who raced on the previous layout during his title-winning GP2 season 17 years ago, is glad to see the back of it.

“Our car has never liked that chicane. I’ve never liked it,” he said in response to a question from RaceFans. “So we’re going to come out of turn 12 and then flat, probably flat-out through the last two. It’s going to be great for our neck, great for tyre wear, and it’s going to be fun.”

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Circuit de Catalunya, 2022
Mercedes’ car “never liked that chicane” – Hamilton
Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc and McLaren’s Lando Norris echoed his comments.

“I think the left-front will be crying for the whole race,” reckoned Leclerc. “It’s the same for everybody. It’s going to be a big challenge I think in terms of set-up also to try and help that left-front as much as possible.

“I hope that with the new parts we bring we will be good with tyre management because I expect this to be the main thing in Barcelona.”

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

Norris predicted the change will have a significant bearing on tyre strategy during the race. “Turn 12, which was the right-hander originally, was already a killer for the front-left next, and now we’ve got two high-speed corners. It might become a bit more of a management race, even more than what it is, and it’s already a huge management race.

Lando Norris, McLaren, Circuit de Catalunya, 2022
Drivers may have better passing opportunities
“Maybe it kind of pushes everyone to be more like one-stop [or] two-stop kind of thing. I’ve got no idea. Maybe the pit stops will be a bit higher, I’m not sure. We’ll wait and see. But I look forward to it.”

Haas duo Nico Hulkenberg and Kevin Magnussen are both enthusiastic to drive around Barcelona without the chicane for the first time.

“It’s going to be exciting to try the original layout without the chicane,” said Magnussen. “It always seemed like a great sequence of corners – the last two corners – with it being so high-speed. Let’s see what that does for overtaking. I have a feeling it might be slightly better for overtaking but time will tell.”

Hulkenberg is expecting “a hard neck workout” and reckons that with an increase in average speed it “is definitely more demanding” now:

“It’s actually quite nice for a change because, for a lot of drivers that have been around for many years, they’ve felt a little tired of because you have pre-season testing there and some other testing during the year there, so it does get a bit one-sided, so now I’m a bit more excited to go there without testing. I haven’t raced there since 2019.”

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

2023 Spanish Grand Prix

Browse all 2023 Spanish Grand Prix articles

Author information

Ida Wood
Often found in junior single-seater paddocks around Europe doing journalism and television commentary, or dabbling in teaching photography back in the UK. Currently based...
Claire Cottingham
Claire has worked in motorsport for much of her career, covering a broad mix of championships including Formula One, Formula E, the BTCC, British...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

16 comments on “Hamilton glad Catalunya circuit’s slow chicane is gone: “I never liked it””

  1. A long-needed change that should’ve happened sooner, but better later than never.
    The lap flow will finally return to pre-2007 levels, although I have my doubts about overtaking.
    Improved flow is enough, like with Yas Marina & Albert Park changes.
    The overall circuit configuration is different than at any point pre-2007, though, since T10 in its present form debuted in 2021, meaning the previous tighter alternative coincided with the chicane & thus, also the last seasons without the chicane.
    The older T10 configuration, on the other hand, had its last use for F1 in 2003, so people should keep these in mind when referring to the new overall configuration as original.

    1. Yeah, I don’t think anyone was happy with that chicane over the years.

  2. Biskit Boy (@sean-p-newmanlive-co-uk)
    31st May 2023, 7:57

    Major surgery is required to cure this patient of the no overtaking disease. This is just a slight massage.

    1. @sean-p-newmanlive-co-uk Yes, but at least more overtaking-friendly than Monaco & probably not even the second or third least overtaking-friendly.

  3. Overtaking should improve a little bit compared to previous seasons because the slow, clunky, off-cambered nature of the chicane spread the cars out a lot onto the main straight, and contradicted the ‘more overtaking opportunities’ desire back in 2007.

    DRS becomes more effective the faster you go, and the much faster run out of the final corner will exacerbate that effect. If the DRS zone isn’t shortened, then there’s going to be a lot of ‘come-on-throughs’ in the race.

    1. @brickles I see your point about the chicane spreading out cars onto the main straight, albeit following is generally harder through high-speed corners, so having a high-speed near full-throttle tempo before the straight mightn’t necessarily be any better in reality, but we’ll find out soon enough.
      Additionally, DRS mightn’t always necessarily be more effective at high speeds, as, for example, Monza & AHR have showed.
      Ultimately lap flow is more important with this change than whether overtaking into T1 will be easier or not.

      1. @jerejj – In the case of Monza, the low downforce configuration and smaller wings make DRS less effective, whereas in Mexico, the high altitude and thin air simulates Monza levels of downforce despite Monaco-style wings. Since Barcelona is neither low downforce or high altitude, DRS should work fairly normally, and hopefully the cars won’t lose too much in the high speed, but they should be flat-out on at least the penultimate corner.

        1. @brickles
          Yes, but this proves my general point that high speed doesn’t ‘automatically’ mean more effective DRS, as you seemingly implied, or at least I interpreted this way.
          DRS should indeed work fairly normally, regardless, & I also hope cars won’t lose much speed, although regarding the penultimate corner, definitely should be flat-out in qualifying trim, albeit race could be another matter with high fuel loads & dirty air.

          1. @jerejj – I wrote my original comment without too much thought so the interpretation is justified :)

  4. Oh wow! I hadn’t heard. This is great! No idea if it improves racing but for such a flowing track, that chicane never fit. It always seemed to open gaps rather than closing them but I can’t imagine it will be easy to follow too closely onto the straight now without a significant pace advantage. Regardless, looking forward to this weekend! And for a race that isn’t a street circuit..

  5. “I never liked it”

    I don’t think anybody did.

    1. Pastor Maldonado has fond memories (but he probably never liked it)

  6. They made the chicane there to improve overtaking and it never worked.

    It will hardly get any better without it, but at least it will look more exciting.

  7. Well, it’s not as it they’ve dug the thing up, given they’ll probably still use it for WRX.
    Goodness knows I’d love to take a JCB to it …

  8. They should keep it for a Long Lap Penalty – the fun-sucking engineers are gaming the 5-second time penalties too much, and F1 should give MotoGP’s answer to “inconsiderate riding” a try…

    1. Yeah I like the idea of a long lap penalty, it’s just not possible to apply to all tracks though.

Comments are closed.