F1 2019: Spanish Grand Prix Track Guide

The AI are notoriously hard to beat at the Circuit de Catalunya, but here's how to maximise your lap in Barcelona.


Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya has hosted the Spanish Grand Prix every year since the facility was completed a year ahead of the 1992 Summer Olympics. The layout of the circuit has changed slightly in that time, with the chicane in the middle of the back-straight being removed and one added between the final two corners since its inception. 

Overtaking is notoriously difficult around this track and nailing the setup is key to rounding the difficult corners, so this is always a challenging track to perfect. The AI is always quick around here too, meaning that points are difficult to score unless you’re in one of the fastest cars. Don’t worry, though, RealSport is here to save the day with an in-depth track guide that will allow you to optimise your performance in Spain!

Turns 1-3 

What are possibly the most challenging corners on the track to perfect are situated right at the start of the lap. 

Turns 1 and 2 are effectively a chicane that sets up Turn 3, but these aren’t to be underestimated. You’ll be arriving from the start/finish straight at about 205mph (329kph) and need to brake just after the 100m board down into fourth gear. 

Being at the end of the longest DRS zone on the track, this is probably the best overtaking opportunity. However, it’s not easy. The run out of the final sector heavily favours the car in front and the braking zone is surprisingly short, despite being on a descent. Take a little kerb for Turn 1 and none for Turn 2, the latter being harsher and liable to send you wide into the gravel on exit. Half-throttle it through the first two corners before gunning it towards Turn 3 when the car straightens out. 

Go as wide as you can before entering Turn 3, this will allow you to keep your foot to the floor for as long as possible. T3 is effectively a 180 degree horseshoe right-hander and you must feather the throttle at some point round it, unless you’re running high downforce in a car like the Red Bull. This is also a key point to conserve your tyres on, the front left takes a beating if you’re pushing too hard. Completely avoid the inside kerbing and use a little of the green run-off on exit but not much more than a wheel, as your lap will be invalidated if you go much further off circuit.

READ MORE: F1 2019 Australian GP Track Guide

Repsol

Repsol is another 180 degree right-hander, but it’s a much tighter one than Turn 3. 

When it’s sunny, begin braking just before the shadow that the Pirelli hoarding which runs across the circuit creates. Decelerate to fourth gear and stay away from the inside kerbing. 

A wider line is the faster one here, if you clip the kerbing on the outside on exit while keeping the steering lock constant, you’ve nailed this corner.

Turn 5

Get as far to the right as possible for entry but be sure to avoid the kerbing on the outside, this could cause a lock-up if you touch it and send you into the gravel. There’s no easy reference for braking here, but aim to do so when the rev indicators show up in sixth gear, but this can vary depending on your setup. 

Slow to second gear and get as close to the red and white kerbing on the inside as possible, but don’t cut, as you’ll probably get grass on your tyres if you do. Ease the throttle on exit and don’t despair if you use some kerbing and green grasscrete on exit, it won’t cost you much lap time. After the exit, Turn 6 is a left kink that won’t give you any trouble.

READ MORE: F1 2019 Bahrain GP Track Guide

Turns 7 & 8

Get as close to the outside kerbing on entry for the straightest line through the Turn 7-8 chicane. Decelerate to fourth gear after braking when the kerbing on the outside begins. 

It’s very hard not to ride the kerbs for Turn 7 but try to avoid doing so, your back end will step out if you take too much. Get straight back on the power and cut the inside kerbs for Turn 8 but make sure to avoid the red and white painted sausage kerb which will punish you if you take too much.

Turn 9

Like Turn 3, Turn 9 is a corner that you might take flat-out if you have high enough wings, but you’ll most likely need to lift at some point. You don’t need to brake for this one, those days are long gone, but a lift just after you turn in is probably the best option. 

Get as close to the inside kerbing as possible, but as usual, don’t touch it, it will send you into the gravel. Kerb use on the exit is fine, if not a little faster, but don’t overdo it, the last thing you need is gravel on your tyres. The straight after T9 is also a DRS zone, so it’s imperative to get a good run out of here.

Turn 10

Being at the end of the second and final DRS zone on the track, this is an overtaking opportunity, although it bites at the apex, so a dive-bomb is ill-advised. Brake just before the 100m board and down into second gear, kissing the kerbing on the apex. 

The run-off on exit looks inviting but don’t use much more than a wheel’s width of it, the traction out there is poor.

READ MORE: F1 2019 Chinese GP Track Guide

Turns 11 & 12

Probably the hardest corners on the track are Turns 11 and 12, with T11 being a particular nuisance. The 11th corner is the sole reason why you’ll need a lot of rear downforce for your setup and you have to half-throttle it over the kerbs to avoid spinning out. 

You need to use the kerbs on the inside to prepare for T12, avoiding them completely leaves you too little room to properly turn in. Run your left front over the red and white kerbing on Turn 11, then immediately switch to the right for T12. 

Turn 12 requires some braking when you hit the rev limit in fourth gear but you have to hit the loud peddle quickly after. This corner is very similar to Luffield in Silverstone, but there isn’t a long straight after it, so a wide line isn’t beneficial. As usual around here, avoid the kerbing on exit ahead of Europcar.

Turns 13-16

Turn 13 is a standard 90 degree right hander, hit the brakes when the kerbing on the left stops and decelerate to fourth gear, clumping the kerb on the inside. Swing to the right for the final braking zone on the track, a good line through here is crucial to your attack and defence during the race. 

In sunny conditions, brake just before the shadow which the Fanatec advertisement hoarding produces, down into second gear. Run over the red and white kerbs on the inside of Turn 14, avoiding the sausage kerb and do exactly the same for Turn 15, getting on the power before turning in. Don’t attempt to cut Turn 15, as you will be penalised.

Turn 16

Run the left front wheel over the green grasscrete on the exit of T15 but don’t put more than half the car over the white line. 

Turn 16 is the final corner on track and one that is flat for every car, but one you can’t underestimate, as the gravel and grass are both waiting for you if you make a mistake. 

Avoid the inside kerbing but run the car over the exit kerb, you’ll have to because of the awesome speed these cars travel in such a short space of time. Be sure to get off the kerbing as soon as possible, though, as the DRS activation point comes soon after the corner.

Setup

You need turn in for Turns 3 and 9 but you also need straight-line speed thanks to the DRS zones, so setup is very difficult to find the right balance for. 

We went with 4/11 wings, which gives you enough turn-in to be fast during the race but also keeps the car grounded through Turn 11. On-throttle differential at around the centre with 75% and off-throttle close to 90% to aid traction. 

Tyre wear isn’t a huge issue around here, so you can afford to be adventurous with the camber and toe, going as high and low, respectively, as you dare. Springs have to be soft at around 2 or 3 for front and rear as the kerbs are harsh and you need to avoid spinning out if you make a mistake. 

Anti-roll bar should be very firm at about 9 or 10, with the ride height low to help straight line speed and compensate for the high rear wing angle. 

Brakes need to high pressure, lock-ups aren’t common here if you avoid the kerbs, so 85% pressure and 53% bias towards the front should be good. Finally, the tyre pressures need to be relatively low, 23.0 psi and 21.1 for the front and rears, respectively. 

READ MORE: F1 2019 Italian GP Track Guide

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George Howson

23-year-old F1 & Football fanatic from Yorkshire who tells it as it is. Outside of writing, I'm a photographer, podcaster and Engineering graduate.

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