Formula 1 unites the menfolk of the Cultural Wednesday family. For me, it has held little interest. All that changed this week when I visited the Circuit de Barcelona Catalunya on a day when Formula 1 cars were being tested. As we arrived you could hear the roar of the cars. The sound hits you in the solar plexus and fills you with adrenaline. It was at that moment, before we had even left the car park, that I was converted. Our visit started by walking through the paddock, which is not a grass-filled meadow but the area immediately behind the pits where all the racing teams set up camp. You catch glimpses of the inner workings of a Formula 1 team like these in the Ferrari Camp.
Next stop was the winner’s podium with a bird’s-eye view of the pits. As we stepped out loud bells rang to warn that a car was heading into the pit lane. Roar, it was Robert Kubica, one of the reserve drivers for Williams Martini Racing.
Regular racegoers get to sit in the vast stand that overlooks the long straight and pits of Circuit de Barcelona Catalunya, those with a bit more cash to splash get to sit in the VIP stand that overlooks a pair of hairpin bends called La Caixa and Banc de Sabadell. Whilst the cars flash by at unimaginable speeds down the straight, they have to slow to almost zero to get round the sharp bends, showing off the driver’s skill. Here is Robert Kubica tackling La Caixa.
One of the skills of F1 driving is knowing which tyres to put on when. Tyres with treads, like those on our four door family saloon, are only used when it rains: the rest of the time, smooth tyres rely on heat to stick to the track. After only a few laps that smooth surface is blistered.
I was lucky to visit on a day when cars were whizzing around the track, like the young British driver Jake Dennis making his Formula 1 test day debut. Whilst the Formula 1 circus only comes to town once a year, there are 15 other motorsport races throughout the year. When the professionals are not showing how it is done, it is possible to drive your own car around the track on a few days each year. Back in 1932 the circuit was the start and finish point for the Olympic road cycling team time trial, every Tuesday and Thursday evening the venue is thrown open to cyclists so you can pursue your dream of being the next Sir Bradley Wiggins. For those curious to know what goes on behind the scenes at a motor racing circuit, tours taking in the pits and winners podium are on offer.
VISITING CIRCUIT DE BARCELONA CATALUNYA NEED TO KNOW
- Guided tours cost €10 adults, €5 children and last 1 hour 30 minutes.
- Bicircuit (cycling round ) costs €5, every Tuesday and Thursday evening
- Track Days when you drive your own vehicle €47
- All tickets need to be booked via Circuit de Barcelona Catalunya website.
- Circuit de Barcelona Catalunya is half hour drive from Barcelona
Are you a fan of watching the Grand Prix or do you rush for the off switch?