Formula 1 Aramco Gran Premio De España 2020, which takes place over 66 laps of the 4.655-kilometre Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya on Sunday, August 16.
The Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya is a motorsport race track in Montmeló, Catalonia, Spain. With long straights and a variety of corners, the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya is seen as an all-rounder circuit. The track has stands with a capacity of 140,700. The circuit has FIA Grade 1 license. Until 2013 the track was known only as the Circuit de Catalunya, before a sponsorship deal with Barcelona City Council added Barcelona to the track's title.
The drivers love the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, which is just as well, because they spend huge amounts of time pounding around it during winter testing. The track is a good mix of high- and low-speed corners, with the challenging Turn 3 right-hander a great chance to evaluate the balance of the car your team’s designers have given you to fight with for the season. Because so much testing is done at this circuit, Formula One drivers and mechanics are extremely familiar with it. This has led to criticism that drivers and mechanics are too familiar with Catalunya, reducing the amount of on-track action.
The Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya has hosted a motorcycle Grand Prix since 1992, originally the European motorcycle Grand Prix from 1992 and later the Catalan motorcycle Grand Prix since 1996. There are at least five points on the track (turns 1, 2, 4, 10, 14) where riders are known to overtake. As in Formula 1, Turn 1 is arguably the most popular place for overtaking. The circuit is not known to produce copious amounts of overtaking, despite the long straights. Originally, the Formula 1 circuit changes were not instituted for MotoGP; however, after a fatal crash in the 2016 MotoGP round involving a Moto2 rider, Luis Salom, the Formula 1 layout was implemented to slow down riders for safety purposes. The FIM made a further change to the chicane for 2017 by moving up the chicane to prevent riders from cutting the pit lane entrance, but that was abandoned because the motorcycle chicane had a surface change that created more safety issues with the transition. Further changes were made to the circuit in December 2017 as grandstands were removed to add additional runoff that allowed the FIM to eliminate that chicane (although the Turn 10 hairpin was kept). The track was resurfaced in 2018 as a result of calls by MotoGP riders to improve the amount of grip on the surface. Previously the track had been resurfaced in 2004.
The track is demanding of a car's aerodynamic qualities. The wind direction at the circuit can change drastically during the day, a significant factor given the importance of aerodynamics to modern Formula One cars. It is then hard to find a good setup since cars can have massive aerodynamic drag and understeer on one part of the circuit in the morning, but suffer oversteer at the same part of the circuit in the afternoon. A given tyre compound can work well when tested, but not so well a couple of months later. These changeable conditions can make for unexpected performances from some teams during the race. The changeable wind conditions have also caused accidents at the circuit, with Fernando Alonso's testing accident in 2015 partly blamed on the severity of the wind.
A lap in a Formula One car would be as follows - Turn 1 is the main overtaking point at Catalunya, as it is a braking zone at the end of a long DRS straight. The inside and outside are equally difficult for overtaking; drivers who can hold the line around the outside of turn one, can get the inside line for turn two. The corners themselves make up a medium-speed chicane – drivers brake rather late for turn one and shift down to gear two, and turn two is almost full throttle as they try to gain as much exit speed as possible. Turn 3 is a long, flat-out right-hander that has a g-force of about four, and it leads to a short straight before turn 4, the Repsol curve. Another right-hander, turn four is similar to Monza's Curva Parabolica – drivers brake and take an early apex (in third gear), carrying great speed out of the exit. Turn 5 comes immediately after and is a slow left-hander taken in second gear which drops rapidly downhill towards the left kink of turn 6 which is ignored by F1 cars. Turns 7 and 8 make up a medium-speed, uphill, left-right chicane. Drivers brake and shift down to gear three, and must not run too wide as turn eight has a large kerb on its apex which could potentially damage cars' suspensions. Turn 9, Campsa Corner, is a very fast, sixth-gear right-hander which is made incredibly difficult by being completely blind (drivers cannot see the apex on approach). It is initially quite steep uphill but the exit is then downhill, so it is quite easy to run wide onto the astroturf. The long back straight leads into turn 10, a second-gear, left-hand hairpin, then turns 11 and 12, a left kink before a long, slow, third-gear right. The next section has been redesigned by German engineer Hermann Tilke to lower speeds onto the 1,047 m (1,145 yd) pit straight – which in turn increases overtaking opportunities and safety. Turn 13 is a tight, third-gear right-hander and drivers have to cross the track quickly to take the racing line through the slow left-right chicane of turns 14 and 15, taken in second gear. Good traction is needed here as it determines speed down the pit straight. Turn 16 is a flat-out right-hander which takes cars across the start/finish line.