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Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya Track Guide

Instantly recognisable, Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya is both technical and flowing, requiring a deep understanding of each corner to master.

The Barcelona GP Circuit, also known as the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, is a motorsport racetrack located in Montmeló, Catalonia, Spain. It has also hosted the Spanish Grand Prix, among other races, since 1991. Here are some facts and history about the venue:

  • The track is 4.655 kilometres (2.892 miles) in length and consists of 16 turns
  • The circuit was designed by German architect Hermann Tilke, who has designed many of the world’s most famous modern Formula One circuits
  • The Barcelona GP circuit was built in 1991 and hosted its first Spanish Grand Prix in the same year
  • Several famous drivers have won the Spanish Grand Prix at the Barcelona GP circuit, including Ayrton Senna, Michael Schumacher, Fernando Alonso, and Lewis Hamilton
  • In addition to Formula One, the circuit also hosts other motorsport events, including MotoGP and the World Touring Car Championship.
  • The circuit is known for its long main straight, which provides a crucial overtaking point at an otherwise difficult-to-pass venue

In this Track Guide, we will break down each corner of the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya to give you a better understanding of how to attack this flowing but highly technical circuit. The focus will be on racing lines, braking points, gearing, apexes and where you should be getting on the power in vital acceleration zones. 

Let’s get stuck in.

Turn 1 and 2

Turn 1 comes after a long start/finish straight which gives you plenty of time to think about the entry for the first corner. Not only does this medium-speed right-hand swoop sit at the beginning of the lap, but it also marks the start of the track’s first complex right-left-right sequence. 

Heading down into Turn 1, keep an eye out for your braking marker on the fence which is just before the 100 metre board. Get the car over onto the entry curb as you approach the brake marker while keeping only your inside wheels over the white line that marks the edge of the track. 

Hit the brakes just before that 100-metre marker and shift down to second gear to get the front end to bite. 

As you head towards the first apex, start to come off the brake and carry speed in. Use the curb and try to get your right side wheels to the inside of the raised block curb for the most grip. 

Start to get back on the power but avoid drifting too far left on the exit as the entry into Turn 2 fast approaches. If you keep more to the right, it will help you to carry more speed into Turn 2 which is borderline flat out if you approach with the best line. 

Heading into Turn 2, you can use the inside curb again, but this time, avoid the inside raised block curb because it will unsettle the car. Short shifting up to third gear on entry can help to keep the car settled. Don’t worry about coming back over to the left as Turn 3 can be entered on a much tighter line than you think.

Turn 3

Heading into the long right-hand Turn 3, try to carry speed in and only roll off the throttle between the two yellow Pirelli boards on the inside of the track. Let the car coast to allow the front end to grip up. 

Then, when you’re feeling the front end bite, get on the throttle hard and hug the inside curb. Only start to open up the steering once you know you won’t exceed track limits on the corner exit. If you are on the power and the car is pushing you wide and understeering, you will be scrubbing your tyres with your steering angle which means you have not carried enough speed into the corner, hence why you had to get on the power too early.

On exit, the runoff area is very generous and you will want to run on this all the way through to the entry of Turn 4. As long as two wheels are on the painted curb, you will be within track limits.

Turn 4

Turn 4 is a long uphill right-hand turn that is taken in second gear. 

On the approach, remain on the runoff area on the outside with only your inside wheel on the painted curb. Start to brake just before the solid white line that crosses the runoff area under the bridge.

Brake hard initially and trail brake as you start to turn towards the corner under braking. Aim for a middle-to-late apex, and as you get to the inside curb, come off the brakes completely to get the extra grip on the front tires. 

Hug the inside curb as you try to get on the power as early as you can. Here you will need to be progressive with the throttle and start to open up the steering slowly as you exit the corner to avoid any aggressive oversteer moments. You don’t want to run out wide too early as you’ll be using more of the circuit.

Turn 5 

Turn 5 is a deceiving downhill left-hand turn that often catches you out under braking. Approaching the corner, make sure to be all the way to the right-hand side of the circuit to open up the entry. There are no braking boards or easy reference points at Turn 5, which makes its approach difficult. The best marker is usually the very inside white tyre wall. 

As the last part of the wall disappears off your windscreen and peripheral vision, start to brake. Once again, trail brake the whole way into the corner as you’ll be turning while still on the brakes. It’s very important to get nice and tight to the inside curb and to hug it to get the most grip out of the corner whilst aiming for a late apex for the best exit. 

When you hit the apex, you can confidently get back on the power and use as much runoff and exit curb as possible without breaching track limits. Think “slow in and fast out” for this corner.

Turn 7, 8

Following Turn 6, which is just a kink after Turn 5, the next sequence of corners can really make or break your lap. It starts with a tricky left-right uphill medium-speed chicane which then leads into a fast right-hand turn onto the back straight.

Approaching Turn 7, stay to the right-hand side of the track and aim to get your car parallel to the edge of the track. The braking marker here is the start of the red and white curbing on the outside. 

Brake hard initially and change down to second gear. Approaching the inside apex, roll off the brakes and carry speed into the corner as the camber of the corner will naturally slow the car down. Aim to get your inside wheels onto the green runoff area just inside of the curb. 

Then, get back on the power at the apex and use the green runoff on the exit curb that signifies the inside of Turn 8. Note that in some cars you can get snap oversteer just as you start to apply throttle. It’s important to be smooth with all inputs here to avoid this.

Turn 9

Heading up the hill and into the fast right-hander, stay left and look ahead to spot your turning-in point – the end of the red-and-white curbing on the left. As you get here, roll off the throttle and turn in. Some cars prefer to change down to third gear, but if you can, hold onto fourth instead for better momentum.

Once you turn in, aim to come close to the inside curb and immediately start finding the throttle to carry your speed onto the back straight. Once you are confident you won’t exceed track limits on the exit, get back to full throttle to maximize your speed down the back straight. The runoff is lenient and you can drift onto the green concrete as long as your inside wheels don’t cross the solid white line.

Turn 10

Turn 10 is a tight left-hand hairpin at the end of the back straight.

Approaching the corner, come back over to the right-hand side of the circuit and spot your braking marker, the 100-metre board. Brake hard and keep that pressure as you start to turn in. Use the engine braking as well as you shift down to first gear, and only as you start to approach the apex should you start to trail brake. 

Turn in earlier than you think and aim for a tight apex, but don’t try to square the corner off for the best exit. As you approach the apex, the corner opens up – if you take a tighter approach, the car reaches this point further rotated so you can get back on the power more confidently.

On the exit, watch out for the yellow sausage curb on the exit which will cause Traction Control intervention if you run onto it.

Turn 11 and 12

Turn 11 and 12 is a two-corner sequence that starts with a short apex left-hand turn that feeds into a long U-shaped right-hander.

Looking at Turn 11, you want to aim for a late apex and use the inside curb to set up the entry for Turn 12. Some cars can use the green concrete on the inside, while others can only use the red and white curbing. 

Heading into Turn 12, it’s all about how you introduce the car into the corner. As the car straightens up from the exit of Turn 11, jump on the brakes and shift down to second. Carry as much momentum as you can while remaining on the racing line. 

When you turn in, aim to hit an apex behind the corner and come close to the inside curb. Once next to the curb, stay with close to it and keep tight as you start to find the throttle early.

Just before the inside curb ends, start to unwind the steering and run the car out to the exit curb. You can run the green runoff area past the curb with your outside wheels.

Turn 13

A 90-degree right-hand turn is up next. Taken in second gear, it is important to note that this corner feeds into the crucial chicane where huge amounts of lap time can be lost or won.

When entering Turn 13, you have to be thinking about the entry for the next corner, so you can’t carry too much speed in and run wide because you want to make it back across the track to be on the perfect line for the chicane. 

Heading into the corner, you’ll be on the far left of the circuit using the green runoff area. Turn in sooner than you think as you start to brake and shift down to second gear. Use the red and white curb on the exit as you hit the apex, but avoid the sausage curb which will launch the car. Carry enough speed that you end up roughly just to the left of the midway point in the road.

On the exit of the turn, get lightly back on the throttle as you bring the car back over to the right for the Turn 14 and Turn 15 chicane.

Turn 14 and 15 (Chicane)

The chicane is a very tight first gear left into a right-hand turn. It is very easy to overshoot the entry on the brakes and the inside sausage curbs are deadly – hitting them is like hitting a brick wall, and there’s a reason why Formula 1 no longer uses it. 

Entering the first part of the chicane, try to get the car as far over to the right as you can. The braking marker is just before the red and white curbing starts on the right-hand side. As mentioned, it’s very easy to overshoot this corner on the brakes, so rather slow down earlier than later to set up a good exit. 

After shifting down to first gear, start turning in earlier than you’d think because you want to be going almost straight at the first apex. Going wide and trying to square off Turn 14 will cost you lap time. Avoid carrying too much speed into the first apex as this will compromise your line for the Turn 15, which is the really crucial one for lap time.

As you pass the first apex, start to feed the power on and get the car positioned right for the next apex. Short shift up to second gear just before you turn in and coast, or use 50% throttle, through the apex. 

When you are confident that the car is settled, get gently back on the power as soon as you can whilst using the exit curb as well as a little bit of the yellow sausage curb. You rather just want to lean on it with the outside tires rather than ride it entirely, which will cause your car to bottom out.

Turn 16

After the chicane, the last corner on the track is an easy enough flat-out right-hand corner.

Aim to just kiss the white line more or less at the halfway point on the curb, and keep your steering smooth to make the weight transfer gentle.

Open up the steering after the apex and let the car run wide onto the runoff area to maximize speed down the straight to finish off a lap at Barcelona.

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