Round seven of the 2023 Formula 1 World Championship is set to kick off at the Circuit De Barcelona-Catalunya today, and now is as good a time as ever, to dive into the very first time the circuit hosted the Spanish Grand Prix back in 1991.
F1 returned to Spain, as it played host to the 1991 Spanish Grand Prix, at the Circuit De Barcelona-Catalunya, during round 14 of the world championship. While F1 was no stranger to the country in years prior, with the race being held at Jerez, Jarama, and Pedralbes previously, September 29th 1991 debuted the very first race to be held at Barcelona, and truly, it was a spectacle of F1 during a great era for the sport.
The race did not only host the best and most famous teams of the 1990s, but also the sport’s legendary, drivers, including Ayrton Senna, Michael Schumacher, Alain Prost, and Nigel Mansell, to name a few.
At lights out, pole-sitter Gerhard Berger in his McLaren was challenged straight out of the gate, by none other than teammate of the time Senna, with the Williams of Nigel Mansell also on his tail. All the action kicked off instantly, as a result of the track still being quite wet as a result of a rainy pre-race scenario, with Schumacher, Senna, Jean Alesi and Mansell all fighting for that third place spot. Mansell would eventually catch Schumacher and Senna, and go on to challenge Berger for the lead of the race.
During lap 20, Mansell and his lightning-fast Williams-Renault, overtook Berger for the lead of the race, as Berger retired soon after with an electronics issue on his car. Schumacher also spun his Benetton-Ford, in turn costing him major places on the grid, as he crossed the checkered flag to take sixth place. Senna in the McLaren fared better, but only just, as he finished in fifth, while Alesi rounded out the non-podium places with fourth.
The podium places were made up by the Williams of Riccardo Patrese in third, and the Ferrari of Alain Prost in second place. Nigel Mansell took a very deserved win on the day, putting his Williams in first, and claiming the victory at the checkered flag, and closing down the gap in the championship, despite Senna still having a 16-point lead.
The venue has remained on the calendar since then, also becoming the preferred and most cost-efficient track for the UK and Europe-based F1 teams to test, particularly when testing was more prevalent, meaning that teams and drivers know the place well.
Thus, Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya is now a mainstay of the F1 World championship, with a long list of epic races, including the venue where current World Champion, Max Verstappen won his first-ever F1 race for Red Bull in 2016; and is also the last place where Spain’s superhero veteran Fernando Alonso won his last race.