LOOKING AHEAD TO SPAIN

Our official race previews are your guide for every lap of every race in 2017.
Hear from the team, drivers and management as we prepare for round five of the FIA Formula 1 World Championship at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.
Follow McLaren TEAMStream for all the build-up to the Spanish Grand Prix.

LOWDOWN

Race title Formula 1 Gran Premio de España Pirelli 2017
Circuit name Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya
First race 1951
Previous winners
2016 Max Verstappen, 66 laps, 1:41:40.017s
2015 Nico Rosberg
2014 Lewis Hamilton
History lesson The Spanish Grand Prix has been a Formula 1 staple for almost as long as the world championship itself. The race has been on the calendar since 1951 and it has kicked off the European leg of the season since 1993. The Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya is also a popular testing venue, due to its eclectic mix of slow, medium and high-speed corners. Only three of the circuit’s 16 turns are taken at less than 100km/h (62mph) and the result is an average speed of 200km/h (124mph)

TRAVEL

City Barcelona
Time zone BST +1
Population 3m
How far? Barcelona is 707 miles (1,138km) from the McLaren Technology Centre
Getting there Many different airlines offer routes to Barcelona and, being relatively close to the MTC, it’s possible to drive there in a couple of days
Surprising fact Montjuic Park, situated in the hills above Barcelona, is the former home of the Spanish Grand Prix (last race: 1975); at 203 hectares, it’s the largest park in Spain
Local speciality Pan con tomate. Catalans don’t put butter on toast; they spread tomato, olive oil, garlic and salt
Weather Spring is a wonderful time to visit Barcelona. The temperature is usually in the mid-20s and the forecast for the race is good

TRACK

Track length 4.655km/2.892 miles (14th longest track of the year – longest: Spa-Francorchamps, shortest: Monaco)
2016 pole position Lewis Hamilton, 1m22.000s
2016 fastest lap Daniil Kvyat, 1m26.948s (lap 53)
Lap record 1:21.670s (Kimi Raikkonen, 2008)
Tyre choice Yellow Soft, white Medium and orange Hard – the first time this combination has been used in 2017
Distance to Turn One 730m/0.454 miles (longest of season)
Longest straight 1.047km/0.651 miles (longest of the season: China, 1.17km/0.727 miles)
Top speed 335km/h/208mph, on the approach to Turn One (fastest of season: Monza, 350km/h/217mph)
Full throttle 65 per cent (highest of the season: Monza, 75 per cent)
Brakewear Medium. There are eight braking events around the lap, but only two big stops, into Turns One and 10
Fuel consumption 1.7kg per lap, which is average
ERS demands Medium
Gear changes 44 per lap/2904 per race

RACE

Laps 66 laps
Start time 14:00hrs local / 13:00hrs BST
Grid advantage Pole position is located on the left side of the track, on the racing line. There is more grip available there, but it’s the longest run to Turn One of the season and a lot can change during that initial 730-metre sprint
DRS There are two DRS zones, on the approaches to Turns One and 10
Don’t put the kettle on…Last year’s race was won using a two-stop strategy (laps 12 and 34), while Sebastian Vettel was the first three-stopper home in third place. How will this year’s more durable tyre compounds affect strategy? If it’s another one-stop race, expect cars to pit from lap 25 onwards
Pitlane length/Pitstops 330m/0.206 miles (longest of the season: Silverstone, 457m/0.283 miles). Estimated time loss for a pitstop is 21s, which is relatively short
Safety Car likelihood 37 per cent, which is low. If there is a Safety Car, it usually comes on lap one when drivers are jostling for position – as was the case last year, when both Mercedes collided
Watch out for…Turn Nine. This 210km/h (130mph) right-hander rises over a crest, meaning the car becomes light just as the drivers are re-applying the power ahead of the long straight down to Turn 10. There were several high-speed spins at this corner during winter testing; expect more drama this weekend

THE DRIVERS

FERNANDO ALONSO
#FA14 MCL32-03

“I’m really excited about returning to Barcelona for the Spanish Grand Prix. It’s my home race, I’ve had some great times there, and the atmosphere is always crazy. We spend a lot of time there in pre-season testing, but there’s nothing quite like the emotion of racing there in front of your home fans. It’s a very special feeling.
“After a run of difficult races for us, I’m not sure what we can expect from this weekend. We’re expecting some various new parts – which we bring to every race – but we can’t really focus too much on performance until we have solved our reliability issues. That’s always our focus.
“I know the team is working extremely hard to get to the bottom of our recent problems, and I am hopeful we can have a smooth race and a weekend with very few issues. For me, qualifying has been an exciting session in the past few races and I hope we can repeat that in Barcelona, but the most important thing will be to maximise whatever grid slot we achieve on Saturday, on race day.”

STOFFEL VANDOORNE
#SV2 MCL32-01

“Although we weren’t proud of our performance at the Russian Grand Prix, we could still take some positives from the weekend and I’m pleased I was able to finish the race, after a few tough weekends. It was important for me to get some more mileage under my belt, and we managed to gather a lot of valuable information, which is helping to shape the development of both the chassis and the power unit as we continue through the season.
“I’m looking forward to starting the European season at the Spanish Grand Prix. I know the circuit well from previous races I’ve done there and of course from pre-season testing, and we have a lot of useful data about the track and the way the car behaves there. Hopefully this will mean we can start the weekend on a positive note and have a smooth weekend.
“The Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya is a fun track to drive, and pretty fast, so it’s quite demanding for both the car and the driver. It’s very tricky to overtake there, and, as it’s a quick track, average speed is quite high, so it’ll be a challenging one for us. It’s traditionally a circuit that’s tough on tyres, but I’m interested to see how the new compounds will change how the race unfolds. As always, though, I’m ready for the challenge and excited to go racing again.”

THE MANAGEMENT

ERIC BOULLIER

McLAREN-HONDA RACING DIRECTOR

“While the start of the year and the first round of fly-away races have not been easy for McLaren-Honda, we’re looking forward to returning to the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya for the Spanish Grand Prix, marking the start of the European leg of the season.
“We don’t anticipate a huge change of fortunes at this race, but getting Stoffel to the end of the grand prix in Sochi was a small reward for all the hard work being put in behind the scenes to address our reliability issues, and hopefully a sign of more positive things to come for the team.
“Like the majority of teams, we’ll be taking this opportunity to introduce some new elements to the car, and, with the enthusiasm of the Spanish fans behind us, I hope we’ll be able to complete some solid running and see an improvement in our reliability. It would be good to kick off the European races with some positive momentum, and what better place than in Spain with the full support of the passionate Spanish crowd.”

YUSUKE HASEGAWA

HONDA R&D CO. LTD HEAD OF F1 PROJECT & EXECUTIVE CHIEF ENGINEER

“After wrapping up the first of this seasons fly-away races, we’re now heading to Spain to kick off the European rounds of the championship.
“The first few races have been challenging for us, with a number of reliability issues plaguing our running. We’re continuing to work hard as a team to improve both the reliability and the performance of our power unit moving forward.
“The Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya is a technical circuit with a mixture of various types of corners. Its character is different to that of the first four races, which were typically power circuits and it’ll be less strenuous on the power unit. The most important focus for us in Spain will be the total balance of the car, therefore we’ll aim to maximise our time in each practice session to work out the best balance of the car with McLaren.
“We’re hoping to have a good race here and build some momentum for the coming races. It’s also Fernando’s home race, so we want to give him the best package possible in front of his home crowd.”