Track Talk: Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya - Redesigned
For 2021, the infamous Spanish F1 circuit had a small makeover. However, this is far from fixing the problem.
Barcelona has always been famed for its lack of overtaking and difficulty to follow other cars, especially in the modern era of F1 with wider cars and higher downforce. Turn 1 was the only real overtaking opportunity, with the following sequence allowing wheel-to-wheel action, but still is quite difficult to follow.
The middle sector is comprised of almost all middle to highspeed corners, meaning when you arrive at the short backstraight you are rarely in a position to overtake into the hairpin of Turn 10. Now though, with the reprofiling of Turn 10 for MotoGP to somewhere in between the modern hairpin and the old sweeper, even this potential overtaking point has been taken away, with the braking zone now much shorter and the apex speed much faster.
The reprofiled Turn 10 // Image credit: motorauthority
The ability to take different lines through T10 is helpful, but is immediately rendered useless by the final sector chicane, which was put in for 2007 to slow cars down in the final corners.
However, recently appointed GPDA (Grand Prix Drivers’ Association) director George Russell suggested last month that racing at the circuit would be improved if the final sector chicane was removed, and after last weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix, the FIA have now confirmed that they are ‘looking at’ removing the chicane for future races.
Would this be enough though? Would even just reverting to the pre-2007 layout of the final sector be enough to improve racing at Barcelona, and is it even a viable option?
My opinion? No. While using the old final two corners would create a much faster and flowing end to the lap, they are still fast corners that would be a problem for cars following in dirty air, which is an issue that remains around the rest of the lap anyway. Furthermore, there is the complication of safety, with the runoff at the final two corners of the old circuit arguably not being enough.
So, it’s a matter of doing more than just reverting to the old circuit, with a potential large-scale redesign of the circuit being in order. What would that look like? And would it be solely focussed on the final sector?
Well, here’s my take on a redesigned Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya:
My version of a redesigned Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya
Firstly I’ll address the modern T10. On this Google Maps view you can see the old tight T10 – I would prefer to use this tighter version of the corner and leave the new version for motorcycle racing, however I doubt the circuit’s owners would want to spend money on a reprofiled corner only for the pinnacle of motorsport to not use it.
I’ve left the first sector alone, its easily the best part of the circuit in my opinion and provides half decent racing as it is. The second and final sectors are what’s needed to be changed, and change have I certainly made!
Instead of the awkward Turn 7 and 8 sequence which acts as nothing but a dirty air machine, I have decide to cut it out entirely to create a flat out sequence of corners from the exit of Turn 5 to the backstraight, with DRS available for the latter half of the ‘straight’. This is to make the old Turn 10 (now Turn 8) a more viable overtaking opportunity.
To account for the dirty air and lack of runoff issue at the pre-2007 penultimate corner, I have extended the runoff by bringing the circuit in more – the old Turn 13 (now Turn 11) has been brought forward and made into a slight right kink, with the circuit essentially cutting diagonally across the old tarmac rectangle that housed the old layouts.
This impacts the World Rallycross circuit, with cars now landing on the F1 circuit after the jump. There’s still a large area of tarmac and gravel for WRX to create a new layout, maybe I could design the rallycross circuit for this version of Barcelona too?
This version of Barcelona’s final sector is potentially even faster than the pre-2007 version, with two smaller corner radii replacing one larger radius corner, which will hopefully reduce any dirty air issue while also increasing speeds down the start-finish straight, hopefully increasing overtaking into Turn 1.
My version comes in at roughly 4.53km (using the 2021 T10), which is only 0.145km shorter than the 2021 layout, meaning while the number of laps will be similar, the overall race time will be shorter as the laptime will be much faster than the 2021 layout.
I hope you've enjoyed the article, enjoy the rest of your day, and feel free to let me know what you think of my redesign of the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya below!