Now that spring is truly here, fans of the world’s fastest, most exciting sport are waiting with baited breath for the second weekend in May, when the Spanish Gran Prix or, to give it its full name, Formula 1 Gran Premio de España Emirates 2018, takes place. The first race of the F1 season, it is highly popular with fans given the fact that the weather is usually pleasant, even hot, and the relatively affordable cost of entrance tickets. The event is going to be held (as it has been ever since 1991) at Montmeló a small town just 12 miles, or 20 kilometres, northeast of Barcelona, not far inland from the Costa Brava.
The race: key facts. The drivers complete 66 laps of the 4.6 KM-long racetrack and do a total of 307 KM. As for the racetrack itself, Montmeló combination of high- and low-speed corners, and its abrasive, somewhat uneven surface mean that it is a very challenging racetrack for drivers. Seasoned spectators know that Turn 1 (also known as Elf Corner) is the best place from which to watch, since it provides one of the track’s few opportunities for overtaking. Expect lots of emotion and surprises.
The timetable: the practice rounds are scheduled for Friday, May 11. The following day, Saturday 12 May 12 is when the qualifying rounds will be held, while the main race itself takes place on Sunday, May 13. The racetrack opens at 09:30 on the Friday, 10:00 on the Saturday and 09:00 on the big day, the Sunday.
How to get there: Given its proximity to the Catalan capital, access to the racetrack is easy. The first option is to catch one of the frequent trains departing from any of the following train stations in downtown Barcelona: Sants, Passeig de Gràcia or Clot. The journey takes around half an hour and a single ticket costs just €2.55, Get off at Montmelo station, the nearest stop to the Cataluña F1 race circuit. Once there, the best option is to catch the small shuttle bus (price range, €1.00 – €2.00), co-ordinated with the arrival of the trains that operates between the station and the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. This operates all day long over the weekend of the event. Alternatively, a special bus service (organised by the coach company Sagalé) runs from Barcelona Nord bus station in the city centre direct to the race venue at Circuit de Barcelona-Cataluña. Details are available on the company’s website. Journey time is around 45 minutes.
The venue: Montmeló features excellent infrastructure including a parking lot, seating areas (most are uncovered), plenty of bathrooms, food and drink options, and security. Make sure to carry a parasol and plenty of sun cream since most of the spectators’ zones are in the open air and there are only a few spots with shade.
Extras: A recent addition to the race arena that has been gaining popularity ever since it started a few years back is The Fan Zone, now even bigger and better than ever. Here, for example, you can have the chance to test your skills by taking part in a pit stop simulation (the pit stop challenge), or pretend you are on the podium and get a photo taken of yourself. Since no glass bottles or cans are allowed to be taken in to the grounds of the circuit (plastic bottles holding up to 500ml are, however, permitted) you will probably want to take advantage of Montmeló’s hospitality lounges. If you wish to have a nice glass of wine or champagne or a glass of ice-cold beer, these are the places to head for. Naturally, you won’t want to be alone, especially when you are surrounded by so many glamorous people. For this reason, I heartily recommend getting in touch with the friendly, helpful director of Barcelonaescorts, Laura, who will be only too delighted to ensure you see this enthralling race in the company of one of their stunning companions (more curves than the track itself!).