Spanish Grand Prix: You need a strong neck to race here - Nico Hulkenberg
|Spanish Grand Prix on the BBC|
|Dates: 12-14 May Venue: Circuit De Catalunya|
|Coverage: Practice, qualifying and race on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra and online. Live text commentary, leaderboard and imagery on BBC Sport website and app.|
The plane banks. The Mediterranean glistens on one side; on the other, Barcelona and its intoxicating mix of hedonism and history.
Touch down, and everything is reassuringly familiar, as it should be after a quarter of a century. Point the hire car north, through town up the Ronda Da Dalt, on to the A7 towards Girona, and soon, there on the left, is the towering silver pit grandstand of the Circuit De Catalunya.
The surroundings change little. Wooded hills, an industrial zone, some scrubby land, fields. Gravel road into the car park, walk over the bridge, under the tunnel.
Glimpse the Pyrenees in the distance, pass the medical helicopter, turn left into the paddock. Usually, Bernie's bus would be on the left. Will Chase Carey have one this year?
What lies ahead? A weekend of intrigue and gossip, as ever. A packed media centre, probably - this race cheaper to attend than the 'fly-aways' that precede it. Lots of developments on the cars, for certain. A slightly dull race; quite possibly.
The track has many qualities - a superb mix of corners; some real challenges for the drivers; a comprehensive test of a car's capabilities. But overtaking has always been difficult, and that's hardly likely to change.
But so many memories, nonetheless. Ayrton Senna and Nigel Mansell side by side, millimetres apart. Michael Schumacher's genius in torrential rain in 1996. The rise in spectators numbers that coincided with Fernando Alonso's emergence. The roof coming off when he won in 2006. That bizarre win for Pastor Maldonado in 2012. Alonso again, overtaking Kimi Raikkonen and Lewis Hamilton in one go around the outside of Turn Three on his way to victory in 2013.
What will this year bring? No matter what, like settling down with a favourite movie in front of a warm fire, a weekend here will always be something to savour.
BBC Sport's chief F1 writer Andrew Benson
'You need a strong neck'
This is where those long pre-season spells in the gym really pay off.
The Circuit De Catalunya is a physically demanding track with fast corners that really test those neck muscles to the limit.
"It's a physical circuit with all the high-speed right-handers, so you need a strong neck," says Renault driver Nico Hulkenberg.
"You'll really know about it by the end of the race."
A quirky stat
Valtteri Bottas won his first race in Formula 1 at the Russian Grand Prix last time out. If he follows that with victory in Spain, he will become the 11th different winner in the past 11 Spanish GPs.
Can you remember who won which race? Take our quiz below.
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Since the pre-season change in ownership, F1 has moved to increase visibility of driver names and numbers on cars, as we will see in Barcelona...
Alonso all alone - the stats
- Fernando Alonso is the only Spaniard to have won a grand prix.
- Alonso (2006, 2013) and Raikkonen (2005, 2008) are the only current drivers to have won twice in Spain.
- All but three of the past 16 Spanish GPs have been won from pole position.
- The only drivers to win in Barcelona without starting on the front row are Schumacher (from third in 1996), Alonso (from fifth in 2013) and Max Verstappen (fourth in 2016).
How to follow on BBC Sport
BBC Sport has live coverage of all the season's races on BBC Radio 5 live, BBC Radio 5 live sports extra, plus live online commentary on the BBC Sport website and mobile app - including audience interaction, expert analysis, debate, voting, features, interviews and video content.
|Spanish Grand Prix coverage details (all times BST)|
|Date||Session||Time||Radio coverage||Online text commentary|
|Wednesday, 10 May||Preview||22:00||BBC Radio 5 live andpodcast|
|Friday, 12 May||First practice||08:55||BBC Radio 5 live sports extra and online||from 08:30|
|Second practice||12:55||Online only||from 12:00|
|Saturday, 13 May||Final practice||09:55||BBC Radio 5 live sports extra and online||from 09:30|
|Saturday, 13 May||Qualifying||12:55||BBC Radio 5 live sports extra and online||from 12:00|
|Sunday, 14 May||Race||12:30||BBC Radio 5 live sports extra and online||From 11:30|
|Monday, 15 May||Review||04:30||BBC Radio 5 live, online andpodcast|