Better for passing, hard on the neck, “mighty quick”: Drivers praise track change

2023 Spanish Grand Prix

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Formula 1 drivers praised the changes to the Circuit de Catalunya for this weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix.

The slow chicane at the end of the lap, which was added to the track layout in 2007, has been bypassed this year, restoring the final two high speed corners.

Lewis Hamilton was one of several drivers who described the change as a clear improvement.

“It’s awesome,” said the seven-times world champion, who drove the old corner configuration in testing before he made his debut as an F1 driver.

“It’s very fast,” he continued. “I definitely prefer it to the small chicane that we had in the past. It’s much more fun. I’ve not followed anyone through there so I don’t know how that’s going to be in the race but it’s definitely going to make it tough for deg[radation].”

The final corner is now approached at speeds of up to 270kph. Kevin Magnussen said “the new layout is pretty full-on, it’s a good change.”

“It’s a little fast and a little more on the limit than I somehow expected,” he admitted. “It’s very fun. I’m enjoying it a lot.”

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The Haas driver isn’t sure whether the change will make it easier for drivers to follow each other through the final corner and overtake on the long straight that proceeds it.

Lance Stroll, Aston Martin, Circuit de Catalunya, 2023
Gallery: 2023 Spanish Grand Prix practice in pictures
“Whether it will mean easy overtaking, I think it might be around the same,” he said. “Maybe a little better.”

However Max Verstappen is optimistic the change will improve the quality of racing at the circuit.

“It’s been a lot more fun to drive,” said the reigning champion. “F1 cars in general they feel better at high speed. So for me the last two corners are much better to drive.

“I tried to follow a few cars as well, it seemed actually quite okay through there as well. So I was positively surprised for overtaking.”

George Russell, who called for the chicane’s removal two years ago, said the section of track has “gone from probably one of the worst corners in Formula 1 to probably one of the best corners in the world.”

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One challenge drivers face as a result of the chicane’s removal is they now have to cope with a bump on the entry to the final corner at much higher speeds than they previously did.

“It’s quick, mighty quick,” said Nico Hulkenberg. “Especially the last corner – sixth gear, seventh gear, depends on your gearbox. But there’s a bump just on the entry which does spice things up a little bit.”

“Now at the speed we turn in at, over 260, 270, the car is virtually on the floor,” he explained. “So you feel anything.”

“You go into a super-fast last corner and this track, there’s really no bumps, but then there’s one right there. It’s just funny, somehow.”

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2023 Spanish Grand Prix

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Author information

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...
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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6 comments on “Better for passing, hard on the neck, “mighty quick”: Drivers praise track change”

  1. José Lopes da Silva
    2nd June 2023, 20:01

    In 2007 the chicane was supposed to make overtaking easier because it was impossible to follow through the corners and then one would be to far away from the car ahead.

    Anyway, it’s an improvement and gives hope for other good developments.

  2. Of course, following might be relatively easy for Max, given his team’s performance & DF levels, but I’ll reserve my judgment until the race.
    Overall, returning to the old penultimate corner is a big improvement, so I wish this happened a while ago, but better later than never.

  3. From this spectator’s viewpoint it’s made the racing way more enjoyable to view; I really like the speed carried through there and the possibility of no lifting. Maybe we can have some modifications at other tracks?

  4. Is it too late to take the Le Mans chicanes out…?

  5. ColonelBlimp
    3rd June 2023, 6:41

    It should have gone back to this the same year DRS was implemented.

  6. I love how on tv some reporters say “wow look how much faster they are this year compared to last year already”… its like conparing the times they do now to last years silverstone … different circuit

Comments are closed.