Much maligned for being uninteresting and producing dull races, the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya contains a good mix of corners and a lengthy straight, making it an ideal test track.
For many years, the circuit was used heavily for pre-season testing, meaning the teams knew exactly how to set up their cars and the drivers could lap at the limit in their sleep.
The layout has been modified a number of times since its introduction in 1991, mostly aimed at spicing up the action since overtaking has always been tricky at the track.
Crowds at the F1 weekend were sparse in the early years as local fans preferred their motorsport action on two wheels, but the rise of Fernando Alonso boosted Formula 1's popularity in the early part of the 21st century.
|Spanish Grand Prix
|Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, Montmelo, Barcelona
|How to watch
|Sky Sports F1
The site's proximity to the Costa Brava, in the northeast of Spain, makes the race a good choice for fans looking to combine a beach holiday with visiting the race, while with Barcelona 20 miles in the other direction there's plenty of culture to explore nearby too.
The circuit layout, with the track winding around itself makes for excellent viewing for spectators.
Compared to more modern venues, the Circuit de Catalunya took quite a long time to build, with the ground breaking in February 1989 and the official opening two-and-a-half years later in September 1991.
As well as taking over hosting duties of the Spanish Grand Prix from the southern circuit Jerez, the timing of the track opening was designed to coincide with Barcelona's Olympic year of 1992. During the Games, the track was used for the start and finish of the road team time trial cycling event.
Today the infield section of the circuit features several environmental projects designed to offset the negative effects of the racing, and it is rated the second-most sustainable racetrack in the world after Mugello in Italy.
The track was modified for the 2023 race, removing the unpopular chicane before the final corner, which leaves the circuit measuring 4.657km.
The chicane had been introduced in 2007, partly for safety reasons as the final turn had been the site of some huge crashes. But it was also intended to improve overtaking, as aerodynamically-dependent F1 cars had become unable to follow each other through the long, fast final turn and so could not attack down the long main straight.
However, the introduction of the chicane did not improve passing and the return to the original configuration contributed to 65 overtakes being completed in the 2023 race - the most at the circuit since 2013.
The circuit was opened in time to host the 1991 Spanish Grand Prix in late September. The event was the 14th of 16 races in the 1991 season.
The race started on a damp track which proved extremely slippery due to the new surface and featured plenty of action. It is best remembered for Nigel Mansell's overtake of his title rival that year, Ayrton Senna, for second place.
Mansell went on to win the race for Williams, 11 seconds clear of Alain Prost's Ferrari. Senna spun when the rain returned, while his team-mate Gerhard Berger, who had led the early stages, suffered a slow pitstop and eventually retired with hydraulic failure.
The following year the race switched to an early May date and has traditionally been one of the first European races on the calendar since then.
Michael Schumacher won the race six times between 1995 and 2004. He shares the record for most wins at the circuit with his fellow seven-time world champion, , who took his six wins between 2014 and 2021 and also finished second in 2023.
The 2023 event was the only F1 race held on the exact current configuration of the track, therefore Max Verstappen's fastest lap of 1min 16.330sec on the 61st tour of the race stands as the lap record.
Verstappen's pole position time of 1min 12.272sec is the fastest lap recorded on the current layout.
The circuit is in use from February to December as both a car and motorcycle racing circuit.
On two wheels, the track hosts World Superbikes in May and the Catalan round of the MotoGP world championship in September.
There is also sportscar and endurance racing, while later in the year a number of regional racing series hold events at the track.
Depending on when in May the race takes place, the weather on race weekend is generally pleasant.
However, the proximity of a mountain range means the weather can develop and change quickly and storms or heavy downpours are not uncommon.
The most notable example was in 1996, when Michael Schumacher put on a display of wet-weather brilliance in atrocious conditions. The German scored his first win for in that race, beating second-placed Jean Alesi by 45 seconds. Only the three podium finishers ended up on the lead lap.