Round eight of the 2023 Formula 1 World Championship is on this weekend at Spain's Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.
There's a slight change to the circuit for this year's Spanish Grand Prix, as the track layout returns to the one used up until 2006. The key difference is the removal of the slow chicane in the third sector, making the 2.9-mile track roughly 60 feet shorter than the previous year.
Teams and drivers know the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya well, as it has been on the calendar since 1991 and is a popular site for pre-season testing. It consists of a mix of high-, medium-, and low-speed corners, changes of direction, undulations, and a long start-finish straight. There's a little bit of everything, which makes it an ideal place for testing.
The frequent change in wind direction at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya also makes balance more challenging. Usually, a tailwind on the main straight in the morning produces a headwind into the high-speed turns. This helps provide better car stability. It then tends to rotate in the opposite direction in the afternoon, and drivers have to adapt.
Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, home of the Formula 1 Spanish Grand Prix
Looking at the weather forecast, some rain is predicted for both Saturday's qualifying session and Sunday's race.
Pirelli has nominated its hardest tire compounds for the weekend: the C1 as the White hard, the C2 as the Yellow medium, and the C3 as the Red soft. Teams during the practice sessions will also get to test tires featuring compounds already developed for the 2024 season, Pirelli has confirmed. The compounds have been made more resistant so they can deal with the faster speeds and increased downforce of the latest crop of F1 cars.
Going into the weekend, Red Bull Racing's Max Verstappen leads the 2023 Drivers' Championship with 144 points. Fellow Red Bull driver Sergio Perez is second with 105 points, and Aston Martin's Fernando Alonso is third with 93 points. In the Constructors' Championship, Red Bull leads with 249 points. Aston Martin is second with 120 points, and Mercedes-Benz AMG is third with 119 points. Last year's winner in Spain was Verstappen, driving for Red Bull.