Mansell and Senna go wheel-to-wheel, 1991
For many Nigel Mansell and Ayrton Senna’s unforgettable wheel-to-wheel tussle during the first ever Grand Prix at the Circuit de Catalunya in 1991 remains the defining sequence of the Nineties: a flat-out, spark-infused, inches-apart drag race between two of the sport’s mightiest gladiators that lasted almost the full length of the mammoth 300km/h straight. In the end it was Mansell’s Renault-powered Williams which won the battle - and went on to win the race.
Jarno at the centre of a ‘Trulli’ massive pile-up, 2009
The 2009 Spanish Grand Prix began with a bang – and, as Toyota’s Jarno Trulli can attest, a big bang at that. The unfortunate Italian found himself at the centre of massive crash at Turn 2 after a squabble between Williams’ Nico Rosberg and Renault’s Fernando Alonso forced him onto the grass and into a spin. That in turn sparked a demolition derby involving Force India’s Adrian Sutil (who collected the luckless Trulli) and the Toro Rossos of Sebastien Bourdais and Sebastien Buemi – not to mention thousands of shards of carbon fibre...
Amazing start guides Alonso to victory, 2013
In 2011 Fernando Alonso made a lightning getaway from fourth on the grid to lead into Turn 1, and two years later he produced a similarly impressive opening-lap surge, this time passing two world champions in as many corners. Kimi Raikkonen was the Spaniard’s first victim, falling prey to the Ferrari at Turn 2, but it was Alonso’s fearless around-the-outside pass of Lewis Hamilton at Turn 3 that really brought the home fans to their feet. And unlike in 2011, Alonso didn’t fall back down the order over the course of the race - instead he went on to secure his second Barcelona victory.
No gears, no problem for Super Schu, 1994
The technical Barcelona circuit is one of the toughest tests of man and machine, as Michael Schumacher found out the hard way in 1994. In the early stages of the race the German assumed a comfortable lead over Williams rival Damon Hill, but as the pit stops began Schumacher found his Benetton stuck in fifth gear - a problem that couldn’t be fixed. Undeterred the future seven-time world champion pressed on, and having remarkably made it in and out for fresh rubber without stalling, he eventually dragged his hamstrung machine home in second place. “I never imagined I would be able to finish second,” a gobsmacked Schumacher said after the race. “It took me a while to learn to drive the car like this and I was eventually able to find the best line through the corners without losing too much time. Really, quite an incredible result.”
Fischella confronts Irvine after Turn 1 clash, 1998
Eddie Irvine was known as a driver who was fond of voicing his opinion, but at Barcelona in 1998 it was the Ulsterman who found himself on the end of a tongue-lashing after a furious Giancarlo Fisichella took him to task over a coming-together at Turn 1 while the duo were disputing fourth place. Was the Italian right to be so aggrieved? You decide.
Schumacher walks on water, 1996
Michael Schumacher claimed a record 72 wins for Ferrari over 11 unforgettable seasons, but arguably none was as special as his first for the Prancing Horse, achieved in utterly treacherous conditions at Barcelona in the early summer of 1996. In the dry, the German appeared to have no chance against the dominant Williams-Renaults of Damon Hill and Jacques Villeneuve. But when the heavens opened on race day - and car performance was equalised - Schumacher’s unparalleled talents leapt to the fore. The regenmeister eventually splashed to victory by over 45 seconds, setting a fastest lap 2.2s faster than anyone else could manage along the way.
Kovalainen escapes from big shunt, 2008
When Heikki Kovalainen’s McLaren ploughed headfirst into the tyre barriers at Barcelona’s high-speed Turn 9 in 2008 - the result, it would emerge, of a left-front wheel failure - the F1 paddock held its collective breath. After careful extraction the Finn was transferred by helicopter to hospital where it was discovered that he’d sustained a concussion, but were it not for the amazing advances in F1 safety technology, it could have been much worse.
Barrichello benefits as Schumacher brothers squabble, 2000
Rolf Schumacher probably thought the days of intervening in arguments between his two sons were long over, but the father of F1 racers Michael and Ralf reportedly had to step in to cool tensions in 2000 after the sibling duo clashed at Barcelona. "He looked for the fight and he started it," said Michael of the lap 49 confrontation that enabled a grateful Rubens Barrichello to pass them both for third place. “I’d prefer not to say anything about the manoeuvre,” was Ralf’s slightly more diplomatic response…
Hakkinen’s last-lap heartache, 2001
Even the most ardent Michael Schumacher fan had to feel for Mika Hakkinen in Barcelona in 2001. After an awful start to the season the Finn finally looked to be back on track after getting the upper hand on his German rival in a classic strategic battle. But no sooner had Hakkinen started his final lap than his Mercedes engine gave up the ghost, and as the McLaren man coasted to a halt at Turn 3, an apologetic Schumacher swept past to claim a fortuitous win.
Hamilton crashes out on penultimate lap, 2010
Running a comfortable second behind Mark Webber in Barcelona in 2010, Lewis Hamilton got the shock of his life when, with less than three laps to go, his McLaren suddenly pitched itself off the road midway around the quick right-hander at Turn 3. “I was just nursing the car to the finish line, then I suddenly felt the steering go, and then there was immediately a failure on the left-front corner,” the Briton explained. “I didn't sense anything odd before the accident - the car was feeling great...” To add insult to injury, rather than climbing from fourth to second in the drivers’ standings, the lost points meant that Hamilton – who was classified 14th – dropped two places to sixth. Those lost points would prove very costly at the season’s end too…
Maldonado takes surprise win for Williams, 2012
When you’re trying to win your first Grand Prix, chances are the last person you want running in close proximity is the local favourite – particularly when that local favourite is as tenacious a competitor as Fernando Alonso. But on an extraordinary weekend in Barcelona, Williams’ surprise polesitter Pastor Maldonado became Williams’ surprise race winner after coolly soaking up all the pressure Alonso could throw at him. It was the Grove-based team’s first victory in over seven years, though sadly the celebrations were cut short when a post-race fire engulfed their garage. All in all, not a race that would be forgotten in a hurry…