Given that we had left things until the last minute, it was perhaps unsurprising that we had a problem to get tickets, for what proved in the end to be a sold out race day at the Circuit de Catalunya. This F1 race tends to always be one of the venues which sells out every year and especially in recent years with Fernando Alonso attracting a lot of support from locals. If you want to buy tickets the best options are to buy direct from the track or Click there to Purchase from F1 GoTickets. We managed in the end to get tickets from a contact at the circuit but we were lucky. I would advise to get tickets as early as possible for races at this circuit.
When I went to the Barcelona F1 I happened to be living in Barcelona for one year so the whole experience was perhaps much easier than that of many, i.e. those who travel to the city especially for the race. Barcelona though is a vibrant, busy and popular city which is a great location for spending a long weekend and for taking in some sport and also enjoying other activities be it golf, clubbing or enjoying a few drinks in the warm evenings. You might on the other hand want to enjoy the Guadi museum, visit a vineyard or enjoy a local Catalan restaurant. This city has it all, and combined with the Barcelona grand prix, you can have an excellent time.
My own experience unfortunately did not include the qualifying days because of work commitments. If you are coming from afar though, I would strongly recommend to include at least one of the race days to fully embrace the experience. Race day get incredibly crowded, whilst qualifying day (from what I am told), whilst still very popular, is a more relaxed day and a little less hectic.
From the centre of Barcelona, the best way to get to the Circuit de Catalunya is to catch a train the metro train on Line Rs (the Castelldefels train). The journey takes roughly thirty minutes and the main central location to board is from Barcelona Sants station and you need to disembark at Montmeló train station. You will know when you are there because you will find that almost everyone is getting off at the same stop , on race days.
Once you arrive at the station just follow the crowds and you will find that it is roughly a twenty minute walk to the circuit. The exact time really depends on what part of the circuit you need to get to i.e. which gate you need to enter at. In all honesty, we got lost and it took ages to get to our gate. So my advice is too really allow plenty of time on race day to travel from central Barcelona to the circuit. You also have to get checked going through the gate and this all takes time.
We has tickets booked for general admission and this means no grandstand and it is a matter of finding somewhere on the grass in the place you choose. I will be again quite honest and say that I think I will wait until I can afford a proper seat in one of the stands next time. It is the only way I will be able to persuade my long suffering wife to come with me again. Sat on one of the corners, there was very little real action to see, except for the cars flying by and from the action we got to see on the big screen in front of us.
I love F1 and the power and sheer speed of the cars is all but impossible to really appreciate unless you attend a race in person. I have also been to a British F1 race at Silverstone and I have been a huge fan ever since. My only point regards waiting until I can afford a decent seat in one of the stands is that for the cost we had already paid, we felt that we might have seen more action watching it on television. You really want to be sat on a corner where there is at least the opportunity of some action, some over-taking or some moves. The Barcelona track unfortunately is not best known for overtaking. The lack of action on the track on this particular race day meant that we felt inclined to try and spice the race up with a few beers and then a few more and sat in the baking sun with no cover is not what we Brits are used to. After one hour of the race, with the wife asleep on the grass and not the most excited person by the lack of overtaking and action, took a siesta for the race. We on the other hand sampled more on the local and very delicious Estrella beer (you must try it) and walked Lewis Hamilton fly around the track in first and continue to stay in first. The highlight was seeing Lewis come around each lap, to the waving of the union jacks and to the dis-taste of the Spanish fans. Oh how the Spanish love Lewis Hamilton since his run-ins with Alonso in the past.
If you are planning to visit on F1 race then in all honesty I would probably recommend to try and go to a race where overtaking and action is most commonly expected. The Monaco F1 or the Belgium Grand Prix at Spa. If on the other hand you really fancy the idea of a long weekend Barcelona and want to combine a short holiday with the convenience of an F1 race, then absolutely, this F1 at the Circuit de Catalunya makes a lot of sense. You will have a great time even if you are disappointed as we were at the lack of actual racing.
Getting to the Circuit de Catalunya can be done in a number of ways.
For accommodation in Barcelona I personally always use Airbnb and find them excellent. You can get a decent room in a very central location and with WiFi included, often for around 50 Euros a night. Do try and book early though if you can when it is race weekend. Get (£12 FREE credit for AirBNB)
I have also stayed in many hotels in Barcelona over the years and many people choose to stay in central Barcelona and then to catch the local train to the circuit for the race and practice days. I can personally recommend the following hotels:
(Ronda Sant Pere, Eixample) – The Catalonia Square is a very nice hotel in one of the most central areas of Eixample, an area which is easily connected to the other main areas of Barcelona via the subway. Luxurious, includes free WiFi and very close to the Plaça Catalunya. (BOOK HERE!)
(Bergara, 3, Eixample, 08001 Barcelona, Spain) – Fantastic location given that it is just a few hundred metres from the popular tourist area of Las Ramblas and inclides it’s own bar and restaurant (named Belushi’s). Overall the combination of price and location makes this a hotel I stay in twice a year. (BOOK HERE!)