Spain

Track: Catalunya
No. of Laps: 66 Length: 4.655 km
Distance: 307.104 km
Lap Record: 1:21.670 K Raikkonen (2008)
2011 Winner: Sebastian Vettel

The Spanish Grand Prix (Spanish: Gran Premio de España, Catalan: Gran Premi d’Espanya) is a Formula One race currently held at the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona, Spain, as part of the annual Formula One championship season.

History

The first Spanish Grand Prix in 1913 was not actually run to the Grand Prix formula of the day, but to touring car rules, taking place on a 300-kilometre road circuit at Guadarrama, near Madrid, on the road to Valladolid.

Motor racing events had taken place in Spain prior to that – the most notable among them being the Catalan Cup of 1908 and 1909, on roads around Sitges, near Barcelona. Both of these events were won by Jules Goux, establishing a strong racing tradition in Catalonia, which has continued to this day. This enthusiasm for racing led to the plan to build a permanent track at Sitges – a 2-kilometre (1.2 mi) oval which became known as Sitges-Terramar, and was the site of the 1923 Spanish Grand Prix.

After this first race, the track fell into financial difficulties, and the organizers had to look for another venue. In 1926, the Spanish Grand Prix moved to Circuito Lasarte on the northern coast, home of the main race in Spain during the twenties – the San Sebastián Grand Prix. The 1927 Spanish Grand Prix was part of the AIACR World Manufacturers’ Championship, but the race was still not established and in 1928 and 1929 was run to sports car regulations.

The 1930 Spanish Grand Prix for sports cars, scheduled for July 27, was cancelled due to the bad economic situation following the Wall Street crash in October 1929. The 1931 and 1932 Spanish Grands Prix were also announced, only to be cancelled due to political and economical difficulties. Finally, in 1933 the Spanish Grand Prix was revived at Lasarte with government backing.

Following the 1935 race, Spain descended into civil war and racing stopped. In 1946, racing returned to Spain in the form of the Penya Rhin Grand Prix at the Pedralbes Circuit in Barcelona.

Spain did not return to the international calendar until 1951, joining the list of races of the Formula One championship, on the Pedralbes Circuit. In 1955, a terrible accident at the 24 Hours of Le Mans resulted in regulations governing spectator safety, and the pedestrian-lined street track at Pedralbes was dropped from the racing calendar.

Comeback

In the 1960s, Spain made a bid to return to the world of international motor racing – the Royal Automobile Club of Spain commissioned a new circuit north of Madrid at Jarama, and Catalonia refurbished their circuit at Montjuïc circuit in Barcelona. A non-championship Grand Prix took place at Jarama in 1967, which was won by Jim Clark racing in a Lotus.

In 1968, Jarama hosted the Spanish Grand Prix, near the beginning of the F1 season. It was agreed, following this event, that the race would alternate between Jarama and Montjuic.

The 1975 Grand Prix at Montjuic was marked by tragedy. There had been concerns about track safety during practice races, and double-winner Emerson Fittipaldi retired in protest after a single lap. On the 26th lap of the race, Rolf Stommelen’s car crashed when the rear wing broke off, killing four spectators. The race was stopped later and won by Jochen Mass, though only half the points were awarded.

The Spanish Grand Prix was confined to Jarama until 1981, after which it was dropped from the racing calendar. In 1985, the Mayor of Jerez commissioned a new racing circuit in his town to promote tourism and sherries. The track, the Circuito Permanente de Jerez, was finished in time for the 1986 championship, which saw a furious battle between Ayrton Senna and Nigel Mansell, with the two cars finishing side by side. Senna won by 0.014 seconds – one of F1′s closest finishes.

The 1990 Spanish Grand Prix was the last in Jerez (although Jerez did stage the European Grand Prix in 1994 and 1997). During the practice, Martin Donnelly’s car was destroyed in a high-speed collision, and Donnelly was severely injured.

Work on the Circuit de Catalunya was underway in Barcelona, and in 1991, the event moved to this new track, where it has remained since. The 1992 event was advertised as the Grand Prix of the Olympic Games. Since that race the race has been held in early season, usually in late April or early May.

The Williams’ dominated the first outings there, taking all victories until 1994. Michael Schumacher has won a total of six times, including his 1996 victory in heavy rain, which was his first for Ferrari. Mika Häkkinen took three victories and was on road for fourth in 2001 before his car failed on the last lap.

Since 2003 the race has been well attended thanks to success of Fernando Alonso. Alonso finished second in 2003 and 2005 before taking victory in 2006.

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