Ferrari at the 2011 Formula 1 Spanish Grand PrixEnlarge Photo
The race is regarded as the start of the European season and is also the home-event for Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso.
The Circuit de Catalunya was one of Barcelona’s many building projects during the build-up to the 1992 Olympic Games and has been a permanent fixture on the Formula 1 calendar since 1991.
The track’s wide variety of corners make it a severe test of man and machine, which is why it’s a favorite test venue for the teams.
An abrasive track surface, combined with high cornering speeds, makes the circuit very demanding on tires. Pirelli is taking its hard and soft compounds to the race, so three pitstops look most likely for teams, but strategies will vary as teams factor in the lack of overtaking opportunities around the lap.
The race itself will span some 66 laps, covering just over 190 miles in total. Last year’s winner was Red Bull Racing’s Sebastian Vettel, who will certainly be keen to repeat his performance this year as he fights to keep the world championship crown.
Vettel’s win at the previous Bahrain Grand Prix saw him move to the top of the points table, with 53 points to the 49 owned by McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton. Vettel’s Red Bull Racing teammate Mark Webber lies third with 48 points, followed by McLaren’s other driver Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso, both of which are tied at 43 points each.
Red Bull Racing is also at the top of the constructor's ranks, with 101 points to McLaren's 92. In third is Lotus F1, which commands 57 pounds and is currently ahead of Ferrari (45) and Mercedes (37).