While in previous years there have been two Formula One races held in Spain, the European and Spanish grands prix, in 2013 there will be only one, the Spanish GP, which once again takes place at the Circuit de Catalunya just outside of Barcelona.
This is the first of seven European races on the 2013 F1 calendar and it promises to deliver plenty of excitement and fun.
Having been the home of the Spanish GP since 1991, as well as one of the tracks used during F1’s winter tests, the 4.6-mile Circuit de Catalunya is extremely familiar to drivers and mechanics, though it remains one of the most challenging from a technical standpoint.
Track conditions can vary significantly during the weekend, making it a challenge to get a good setup. The track layout, with its high average speed and 2,400-foot straight (the longest in the season), also makes it quite hard on tires. There are several good overtaking opportunities for drivers, and once again tire strategy will be crucial given the combination of the abrasive asphalt and high ambient temperatures.
As we’re now at round five of the season, teams will be bringing upgrades to their cars developed during the past three-week break. Tire supplier Pirelli will also be introducing a new version of its hard compound, which has been nominated together with the medium compound.
The new hard tire is similar in characteristics to 2012’s hard tire, with a wider working temperature window (the tires this year have generally been softer than last year). This gives the teams more opportunities to run a greater variety of strategies in combination with the other compounds, which haven’t changed.
Going into this weekend’s race, reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel of Red Bull Racing leads the Drivers’ Championship points table with 77 points, followed by Lotus’ Kimi Räikkönen with 67 points and Lewis Hamilton in third with 50 points.
In the Constructors’ Championship, Red Bull Racing remains the clear leader with 109 points, followed by Lotus with 93 points and Ferrari with 77 points.
Stay tuned for our complete Spanish GP coverage over the weekend, including a weather forecast tomorrow, qualifying report on Saturday and full results coverage on Monday.