If you like cars, speed, and non-stop action, then you won´t want to miss the Gran Premio de España Telefónica de Formula 1.
The Catalonia Grand Prix, as it´s called in English, attracts Formula 1 fans from all over the world. Since 1991 it has taken place in Montmelo, a town just 20 kilometers outside Barcelona, at the Circuit de Catalunya. This year it will take place from May 7 to May 9. Sunday, May 9, is the date of the official race, while practice and qualifying sessions will take place on Friday and Saturday.
The track is 4.5 kilometers in length with a straight of over a kilometer, which allows for more speed and excellent views for the fans. Among the drivers it´s known for its wind and variability as well as some very challenging high-speed corners. During the races the commentators will give their commentaries in Catalan, Spanish, and English.
You can buy a ticket for either the final day (Sunday) or for all three days. There are a variety of prices depending on where you sit and how many days you attend. The three-day tickets range from 110€ to 535€. Tickets can be bought at Servicaixa cash machines, El Corte Inglés shopping centers, RACC offices, Ticket Master, and FNAC stores. The Circuit de Catalunya website also lists otherworld-wide sale points.
The easiest way to get to Montmelo is by the RENFE train service. You can catch the train from the Barcelona Sants, Passeig de Gracia, or Clot train stations. You will have to get off at the Montmelo station. The trip takes approximately 30 minutes from Sants. Once you arrive to Montmelo you will have to walk to the track, which takes around 20 minutes. It shouldn´t be difficult to find as there are so many people you can just follow the crowd and once the race starts you´ll be able to hear the cars from the train station.
The Sagalés coach company will also offer a special service from Barcelona (Passeig Sant Joan 52) to the circuit from May 6 to 9. A one-day return ticket costs €8 and can be purchased on-line at http://www.sagales.com or by calling +34 93 231 27 56.
The RENFE receives nearly 20,000 passengers during the Grand Prix. They increase their services during peak hours on all three days, but it´s still a good idea to catch the train as early as possible to avoid crowds. It´s also worth waiting a bit once the events finish before heading back to Barcelona. Many of the spectators take public transportation to the track and it´s impossible for the trains and buses to accommodate everyone if they all leave at the same time, so it´s worth buying a drink and relaxing for at least 30 minutes before leaving.
If you plan to drive, there is an option to purchase parking with the ticket. This is advisable because it´s nearly impossible to find free parking upon arrival. If you haven´t purchased parking with your ticket you can also pay for parking when you arrive, although there is no guarantee that a spot will be available.
If you haven´t bought a ticket with an assigned seat, such as the general seating in the grass area, make sure to arrive as early as possible in order to find a good place. Obviously you´ll want to be close to the track, but it´s also good if you can sit somewhere with a good view of the television screens. According the organizers, this year there will be enough screens so that at least one will be visible from every seating area. That said, it´s not unusual for spectators to start arriving as early as 7am in order to claim their spot, so the sooner you can arrive the better.
Visitors are allowed to bring food and drinks to the circuit, and many people bring picnics. However, you will not be allowed to enter with either glass bottles or aluminum cans (plastic is fine). There is also a picnic service available, a large variety of fast food stands around the circuit, and two restaurants if you prefer a sit-down meal.
The Circuit de Catalunya offers very little shade. Keep this in mind and make sure to bring sunglasses, sun cream, and a hat. Visitors who have tickets for the grass area can bring umbrellas in order to provide themselves with more shade. Earplugs are also recommended as the noise can be deafening, particularly for children. Formula 1 paraphernalia such as t-shirts, hats, etc., will be on sale at various points at the circuit for those who want souvenirs.
The Gran Premio de España is a very exciting event that Formula 1 fans should not miss seeing in person. The key to making the most of the experience is to come prepared. Make sure to bring all sunscreen, water, food, and of course, don’t forget your camera!
For more information check out the official website at http://www.circuitcat.com