Spanish Grand Prix history 05 May 2004
This year's race will be the 34th Spanish Grand Prix counting towards the FIA Formula One World Championship. The Circuit de Catalunya is the latest in a string of tracks that have at one time hosted the Spanish race, which originally dates back to 1913 when Carlos de Salamanca won at Guadarrama, driving a Rolls Royce.
Alberto Divo won in 1923 in a Sunbeam, at Sitges, but from 1926 (won by Meo Constantini in a Bugatti) until 1935 (winner Rudolf Caracciola in a Mercedes), the race was held on the Lasarte circuit on the outskirts of San Sebastian.
Five different circuits have been used for World Championship races - Pedralbes (1951, 1954); Jarama (nine times between 1968 and 1981); Montjuich (four times between 1969 and 1975); Jerez (1986-90); and Montmelo-Catalunya (since 1991).
The first World Championship event was held in 1951 on the Pedralbes street circuit near Barcelona. Montjuich Park, in the centre of the city, then followed, interspersed with races at Jarama just outside of Madrid. Finally in 1991, Jerez succumbed to the new purpose built circuit of Montmelo-Catalunya 20 kilometres north east of Barcelona. Due to its status as one of Formula One racings premiere testing venues, the track is constantly being upgraded. For this years race the Caixa corner has been drawn back slightly to increase its run-off area.
Juan-Manuel Fangio claimed his first World Championship (at the age of 40) when he won the title decider in Spain in 1951, beating Alberto Ascari by 6 points and giving Alfa Romeo their final Grand Prix victory.
The Spanish Grand Prix has produced amongst the largest and shortest winning margins in a World Championship Formula One race - Jackie Stewart (Matra-Ford) finishing over two laps clear of Bruce McLaren (McLaren-Ford) at Montjuich Park in 1969, and Ayrton Senna (Lotus-Renault) beating Nigel Mansell (Williams-Honda) by just 0.014sec at Jerez in 1986.
The closest five-car finish in a Spanish Grand Prix - and a spectacular sight - occurred at Jarama in 1981, when Gilles Villeneuve (Ferrari) led home Jacques Laffite (Ligier-Matra at 0.22 sec), John Watson (McLaren-Ford at 0.58sec), Carlos Reutemann (Williams-Ford at 1.01sec) and Elio de Angelis (Lotus-Ford at 1.24sec).
Father-and-son victories have been achieved twice in the Spanish GP - by Graham and Damon Hill (1968 and 1994) and Gilles and Jacques Villeneuve (1981 and 1997). Both drivers also contributed to milestone wins in Spain, Hill recording Goodyear's 300th Grand Prix victory in 1994 and Villeneuve the 350th in 1997.
Pole position milestones recorded at the Spanish Grand Prix have included the 50th by Lotus (at Montjuich in 1973), the 50th by Ferrari (at Jarama in 1974), the 100th by Lotus (at Jerez in 1986), and both the 40th and 50th by Ayrton Senna (at Jerez in 1989 and '90). In 2000, Johnny Herbert, marked his 150th and Jarno Trulli his 50th race start.
Amongst the firsts recorded at Spanish Grands Prix, the Lancia team made their race debut in 1954; Frank Williams became a Formula One entrant for the first time (with a Brabham for Piers Courage) in 1969; 1970 brought the first win for March (by Jackie Stewart in a Tyrrell-entered car); 1971 saw the first win by Tyrrell as a constructor (Stewart again); 1974 was the first Grand Prix victory for Niki Lauda; 1975 witnessed the only Grand Prix victory for Jochen Mass in a McLaren, the Grand Prix debut of Alan Jones in a privately entered Hesketh, and the only time a female driver has claimed a points score - Lella Lombardi finished sixth in a March.
Michael Schumacher is the most successful driver in Spain, with five wins, including the last three years events. This year, the world champion could become the first man to win four successive Spanish Grands Prix. Mika Hakkinen, Alain Prost, Nigel Mansell and Jacky Stewart have all won the race three times. Ferrari lead the table of team wins in Spain on eight, followed by McLaren (seven) and Williams (six).
Eight Spanish drivers have taken part in their home Grand Prix - Paco Godia (1951, 1954), Alex Solar Roig (1971-1972), Emilio de Villota (1976-78), Adrian Campos (1987), Luis Perez Sala (1988-89), Marc Gene (1999-2000), Pedro de la Rosa (1999-2002) and, of course, Fernando Alonso (2001, 2003).