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Does Practice Makes Things Too Perfect For Catalunya?

BARCELONA, SPAIN - MAY 09:  Grid girl for Sebastien Buemi of Switzerland and Scuderia Toro Rosso is seen before the Spanish Formula One Grand Prix at the Circuit de Catalunya on May 9, 2010 in Barcelona, Spain.  (Photo by Peter Fox/Getty Images)
Peter Fox/Getty Images
Antony HerbertAnalyst IIIMay 9, 2010

Do we really need the circuit of Catalunya on the Formula 1 calender?

The Grand Prix today was not the most banal ever witnessed, yet it seemed to suffer from one significant fatal flaw.

For a track to be welcomed with open arms year after year, we as spectators desire to witness a show. We want to be given competition that is full to the brim of action, passing and fulfilled determination that is portrayed by the men behind the wheel of the cars.  

Sadly it has to be said that the Spanish Grand Prix held in Barcelona does not always encapsulate this view.

The main problem point is that the track is far too minimal in it’s ability to produce overtaking.

Even though it boasts the longest start/finish straight in the current calender, this focal point provides the only realistic possible overtaking opportunity.

If a follower into the final corner can enhance their position and get on the throttle early enough then they may give themselves a chance. This chance more often than not yields little, even if the driver behind is right up the bumper of the car ahead, but it remains a chance.

However as we saw with Jenson Button’s enthusiastic yet unsuccesful campaign against Michael Schumacher, whilst closing in is one thing, passing is well and truly another matter entirely.

Don't get me wrong, on a simulator the track is a treat to drive on. It mixes enough elements of full throttle action against a set of challenging breaking points. You can easily endure a couple of enjoyable hours as you get to grips with the track.  

It is understandable therefore why the track is a favourite for pre-season testing. It enables the teams and drivers to fulfill their potential over single lap sprints, and offer teams the statistics craved for setting early season targets and aspirations.

But this may also be its downfall.

With a collection of drivers having forged into their memory every nook and cranny of the two and a half mile circuit, everyone knows where to defend and everyone knows where the optimum in performance can be found.

The driver becomes less of a deciding factor. Each and every competitor knows that the track allows little room for maneuvering themselves up through the field as they all have the same knowledge of the circuits intricate composition.

In the end it seems that only the car seems to determine the pecking order. As such the grid forms in a way where team mates are closer than usual to each other.

This is the reason that Mark Webber’s victory today marked the tenth consecutive season where the pole sitter in Catalunya has emerged triumphant upon the races conclusion.

This year it ended a run of results where the opposite had happened in all Grand Prix: the pole sitter did not win.

Maybe the track would be better suited to just its pre-season testing role.

Wouldn't it be more effective and enticing for us as spectators if alternative circuits were sought after in an attempt to continue the recent trend of new and intriguing tracks that have been introduced?

Would it be an fruitful idea to search for another Spanish circuit where the allowance for increased competition could be gained.

Consequentially we the supporters could be given a more enriched spectacle. A deflection away from Catalunya could allow the drivers a greater opportunity to battle it out in the way that the sport intends the championship to be fought; with action in plentiful amounts.

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