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As one of the oldest races on the Formula one calendar the Spanish Grand Prix at the circuit de Catalunya is one of the hotly anticipated races of the season. It usual marks the start of the European phase of the season’s competition in the continent due to its usually more clement early spring weather conditions.  The circuit layout famously resembles a Bulls head in appearance a reference to the character of the country and its expressive self. One way to really enjoy the race first hand is to join the Spain F1 Paddock Club by paying a visit to their website at edgeglobalevents.com/f1-paddock-club/f1-paddock-club-spain. Let’s take a look at this prestigious event and how it came to be held at its current home.

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The first actual grand prix race was held in 1913 but it was very different to the rules and regulations that we have today. The first was a road race near the capital Madrid and the scene was set that Spain would be a motor racing fan heaven. When the current international Formula one competition was set up Spain along with Monaco, Silverstone in the UK and Monza in Italy was set up as one of the first countries to host a regular slot. Pedralbes was the first venue. This was a short fast and simple circuit that was held around the streets of Barcelona. The wide streets and fast bends made for exciting race but the drivers and spectators safety became an issue as it was impossible to provide suitable barriers and protection for people on the paved streets. Although there never was an accident at the track an incident at Le Mans where spectators were killed convinced the organisers to move it before a similar tragedy occurred.

There was then several years break before two tracks emerged in the 1960’s. This was the purpose built Jarama track north of the capital Madrid and a newly thoughtout street circuit in Barcelona Montjuic. The tracks were to alternate from year to year between the twisty and tight Jarama and the faster wider Montjuic. However, there was a problem with Montjuic as the safety Armco barriers were not sufficiently secured. The drivers complained and refused to race until standards were met. Even then they were not but the threatened drivers decided to carry on. As predicted a rear wing came on one car causing it crash into the crowd. Four spectators were killed.

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There would be no more racing at Montjuic and the venue was switched to Jarama indefinitely, but the tight and twisty track was not popular and a move to Jerez soon happened. This was to advertise sherry in the area and while it was quite popular with the drivers it never took off due to its remote location. The move in 1991 to the its current home in Catalunya was fully supported by the government and its second year tied in with the Olympics in the city. It has stayed there ever since.

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Posted by Penny S. Lopez

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