Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Circuit de Catalunya, 2023

F1 drivers speak up for Catalunya track amid rumours of Madrid bid for Spanish GP

2023 Spanish Grand Prix

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Formula 1 drivers including Lewis Hamilton are keen to see the Circuit de Catalunya remain on the F1 calendar, following rumours the Spanish Grand Prix will move to Madrid in the future.

Reports suggested a new street circuit in the Spanish capital could take over the race after the Catalunya circuit’s contract expires in 2026.

The Spanish Grand Prix has appeared on the F1 calendar every season since 1986 and moved to its current venue in 1991. Several drivers expressed their desire for the track near Barcelona to remain the race’s home.

Lewis Hamilton, who raced around the little-loved Valencia street circuit which held a second Spanish round between 2008 and 2012, said he was not particularly excited by the prospect of moving the Spanish round to another street circuit.

Circuit de Catalunya, 2023
Catalunya has held F1 races since 1991
“As long as it’s not like Valencia was, which wasn’t the most enjoyable track to drive…” he said in response to a question from RaceFans. “But I don’t think I would want to lose Barcelona. I love the city.

“I do think it’s very important to keep the some of the classic circuits. At least the ones that provide great racing. Budapest is spectacular, Silverstone’s grand prix is spectacular, this track – there’s a lot of really great original circuits that we should keep. Maybe some that don’t provide the greatest of racing, maybe switch those out.

“I just think about the heritage of the sport and we’ve got to make sure we hold onto those which are the pillars of what the sport is, in my opinion.”

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AlphaTauri driver Nyck de Vries, who drove in a grand prix weekend for the first time last year in Barcelona in a Friday practice run with Williams, said he “genuinely loves” the venue.

“I think every driver knows this track very well – it’s been used a lot throughout many different series and also in the simulator. So I enjoy coming here.”

However Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz Jnr – one of two Spanish drivers in the field alongside Aston Martin driver Fernando Alonso – said he is more concerned about making sure the Spanish Grand Prix remains on the calendar amid ever-growing competition from existing and emerging venues across the world.

“I just can say that I will do my maximum just to ensure that there’s still a Spanish Grand Prix, independently of where,” Sainz said.

“I think Barcelona now is doing a great job and I’ve been enjoying coming to Barcelona many, many years. Obviously I still need to go a bit more into the detail of what’s going on in Madrid and what they’re planning to do there.

“But I will just support the Spanish Grand Prix – independently of where it is – and I will just offer my help for whatever they need – doesn’t matter if it’s track design or whatever – and support it.”

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2023 Spanish Grand Prix

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Author information

Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...
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...

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7 comments on “F1 drivers speak up for Catalunya track amid rumours of Madrid bid for Spanish GP”

  1. Seriously, no. Not this track for a street circuit. They remove the worst part of the circuit then to have rumours of not racing at the track. Unbelievable.

  2. Jeffrey Powell
    1st June 2023, 21:59

    Your piece makes it sound as if the Spanish GP. first ran in 1986. I seem to remember in its second running 1969 two frightening crashes , two world champions in two Lotus 49’s with incredibly dangerous wings , at the same spot. Montjuich Park, Barcelona, now that was a really scary street circuit.

    1. And I believe in that 1969 race, barriers were installed on the side of the track for safety reasons, which were heavily criticised for giving the track a slot-car racing feel. If they hadn’t been in place, Jochen Rindt’s Lotus would have ploughed into the crowd when his wing failed.

      Also, the first world championship Spanish GP was at Pedralbes in 1951, where Ferrari mistakenly chose tyres that were too slim and the cars all suffered tyre failures, including Ascari, leaving Fangio to win the race and the championship for Alfa Romeo.

  3. Circuit de Catalunya may not be the best in terms of overtaking but it is a great track thats fun to drive and fun to watch cars driving on.

    It has a nice flow and a nice mix of corners that offers up a nice challenge and that’s something missing from most of the newer venues, the newer street tracks especially.

    I’d rather watch a duller race on this track than a DRS fest on many of the newer flat
    featureless, characterless tracks that just aren’t fun to drive or watch cars driving on.

    At least a duller race on this circuit is a better visual spectacle to watch than a dull race around a car park like Miami.

  4. Must be a case of Stockholm Syndrome. We’ve literally had decades of terribly boring races at Circuito de Catalunya, with no signs of improving.

  5. While returning to the original high-speed penultimate corner finally makes Circuit de Catalunya more enjoyable again, I don’t think I’d still mind a lot about getting replaced by a temporary circuit in Madrid if such a move were to happen later this decade.

  6. This place often gives boring races, but I expect this year, with the changes, to be much better.

    That said, replacing it with a lame-o street track would suck. There are way too many of those these days, it used to be an unique challenge. Now the uniqueness resides in proper normal tracks, which I don’t think it’s right.

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