Formula 1 Grand Prix expected to attract 100,000 fans on race day
Traffic control measures will be put into place to mitigate impact on major roads
Three months after testing in February, Formula 1 returns to Barcelona this weekend, with around 100,000 attendees predicted to be present at the Grand Prix on Sunday, following two years of the event going on behind closed doors due to the pandemic.
The circuit in Montmeló, around an hour outside Barcelona, also expects numbers to exceed those of 2019’s event.
"We are coming out of a period of confinement and measures, with different activities being normalized" said Lourdes Puigbarraca, an official from the Catalan Traffic Service, in a presentation of the special traffic device, which was made at a Mossos d'Esquadra police station in Granollers.
As a result, the Catalan Traffic Service has announced special measures to facilitate mobility on the main roads, allowing both Grand Prix goers and local road users to move about efficiently.
Among these measures is the decision to implement an inverted lane on the C-32 North highway as an alternative to the AP-7.
The special measures will be in place between Saturday at 7.00 am and 5.00 pm and Sunday between 7.00 am and 6.00 pm.
"The way the championship is going, the way it ended last year, and the fact that independent programs and series about Formula 1 have been produced, has helped many people who were familiar with the sport get involved and begin to follow it", explained the director of the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, Josep Lluís Santamaria.
These new-found fans mean that, unlike previous years, it is expected that a considerable proportion of those at the track will be from Catalonia and elsewhere in Spain. As a result, the number of private vehicles trying to gain access to the circuit will likely increase.
To tackle this increased traffic, aside from the temporary changes to the local highways, entrance to the venue is expected to be staggered, so that people arrive progressively.
However, more concern lies around the exit, as fans tend to leave in one great burst once the race is over, which can lead to the overflowing of nearby roads.
In order to reduce these crowds, the circuit has chosen to open the track to attendees, allowing them to step on the asphalt on which the drivers will have just driven.
Train and bus travel preferable
In order to reduce the effect of the increased number of cars, Puigbarraca “strongly advise[s] the use of public transport". In response to this request, there will be 76 special trains and 50,000 additional seats on Saturday and Sunday on the R2 Nord railway line leading to Montmeló.
There will also be a bus service connecting Montmeló station with the circuit. Furthermore, the bus company Sagalés is establishing a shuttle service between the center of Barcelona and from the main towns on the coastline nearby and the site.
A close fought battle
This year, new technical regulations intended to produce closer racing seems to be working, as the first five races of the season have produced some fascinating contests, chief among which is the championship battle between Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc and reigning world champion, Max Verstappen, driving for Red Bull.
With Verstappen having won the last two races, he seems to be the favourite coming into this weekend, but the Dutchman still trails Leclerc by 19 points in the standings, owing to two retirements in Bahrain and Australia.
The Spanish crowd, meanwhile, will be cheering on two-time world champion Fernando Alonso and Leclerc’s teammate, Carlos Sainz, who will be hoping for his first Grand Prix victory come race day.