The Formula 1 Spanish Grand Prix has been, since 1951, produced many memorable performances by some of the sport’s greatest champions such as Juan Manuel Fangio, Ayrton Senna, Michael Schumacher, Lewis Hamilton or Fernando Alonso.
The Spanish GP has known five different venues during its 48 editions. It all started in Pedralbes (1951, 1954); then it was the turn of the Montjuïc urban circuit in Barcelona and the Jarama circuit in Madrid which alternated editions from 1969 until 1976 when the GP settled in the capital until 1979.
After Madrid, the Grand Prix would move to Jerez de la Frontera (1986-1990), and finally, in 1991 it went to the Barcelona-Catalunya circuit, where it has remained until the present day
Pedralbes 1951: The F1 arrives in Spain
The year after the birth of the World Championship, the F1 arrived in Spain. The race at the Urban Circuit of Pedralbes in Barcelona was the seventh and last of the 1951 season and it produced Juan Manuel Fangio first world champion title.
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‘El Chueco‘ left spectators speechless after beating Jose Froilan Gonzalez (Ferrari) by 54.28 seconds and defending champion Nino Farina by almost two minutes at the Formula 1 Spanish Grand Prix.
Barcelona 1991: The Senna-Mansell duel
The Grand Prix of Formula 1 arrived in the Barcelona-Catalonia Circuit in 1991, and its debut edition was one of the best races in history. On September the 29th, 1991 two giants, Nigel Mansell and Ayrton Senna, engaged in an agonizing battle for several laps.
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The thrilling combat ended with an epic ‘wheel to wheel’ battle at over 300 km/h. Since that day, the picture of both cars racing with just a few millimetres between them remains one of the most iconic images of the sport.
In the end, the Briton won the race (Williams) to take win number 21. The title that year, however, would be for the Brazilian pilot. It was one of the best Formula 1 Spanish Grand Prix.
Barcelona 1996: Schumacher’s first victory with Ferrari
After signing for Ferrari, Michael Schumacher only needed seven races to start winning in his red suit. The German gave a driving master class under an almighty rainfall in the Formula 1 Spanish Grand Prix of 1996.
The appalling weather conditions triggered innumerable incidents which left a toll of 12 withdrawals and as many collisions. The talented German driver won over his closest rival, Jean Alesi by 45,302 seconds. The Kaiser’s performance remains to this day one of the greatest exhibitions in the wet in history.
Barcelona 2013: Alonso’s last triumph
After his victory with Renault in 2006, it took Fernando Alonso another seven years to uncork the champagne in the Formula 1 Spanish Grand Prix .
The Spanish hero started fifth at the wheel of his Ferrari behind the two Mercedes, a Red Bull and a Lotus, but was determined to put up a memorable performance before his countrymen.
The traffic light went out and his comeback began. After just a few meters he was already third. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) and Kimi Raikkonen (Lotus) had been his first victims.
Then it was Sebastian Vettel’s turn to surrender after a classic undercutting manoeuvre.
Before an exhilarated audience Alonso then climbed onto the first position leaving behind the W04 of Nico Rosberg to take win number 32, and the last one of his Formula 1 career.
Barcelona 2016: Verstappen wins after both Mercedes crash
Mercedes had dominated the sport for the first two years of the hybrid era (2014, 2015) and in 2016 they also owned the best car of the grid. That same year would see another chapter on the fratricidal war between its two drivers: Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg.
The hostilities between the two culminated in the Formula 1 Spanish Grand Prix of 2016 when the German driver overtook his English teammate in the third corner of the first lap.
The angry Briton tried to recover his position in a hot-headed move which resulted in a collision between the two that left both the Mercedes out of the game.
A very young driver called Max Verstappen was in luck. The Dutchman sealed his first F1 triumph in his debut race with Red Bull and became the youngest ever driver -18 years and 228 days old- to win a Formula 1 race, ousting Sebastian Vettel from the honour. Verstappen also became the first Dutch driver to win an F1 race.
Images from the ‘Formula 1 Spanish Grand Prix‘: Red Bull