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Formula One

Three excellent reasons to watch the Spanish Grand Prix

F1 is mildly unpredictable again. Who’s gonna win in Spain?

Published: 20 Jun 2024

Well, what do we have here? Actual competition? Pinch us, we thought the predictable snooze-fests of the last two years or so would never, ever end.

The Canadian Grand Prix two weeks ago was wildly exciting as Max Verstappen, Lando Norris, Oscar Piastri and George Russell were all in the mix for the win. And although it was Verstappen who prevailed (six out of nine wins thus far in 2024), there was no guessing which way the race would go until late on. Great stuff.

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So chalk up ‘mild intrigue’ as excellent reason number one for tuning in on Sunday, closely followed by ‘Fernando Fever’ (it’s the two-time champ’s home race, of course) and ‘Alpine Altercation Bingo’. Which someone should definitely go ahead and invent.

Set the scene for me.

Max Verstappen comfortably leads the world championship, but so far in 2024 he’s not had it all his own way. Just… mostly his own way. All three of McLaren, Ferrari and Mercedes look like they can challenge for wins in the right conditions, and there’s always a chance that Sergio Perez might awaken from his perma-daydream and actually get out of Q1 for a change.

F1 arrives in Spain with much chatter about what the 2025 grid will look like. Will Carlos Sainz sign for Williams or Audi? Will Mercedes replace Lewis Hamilton with a 17-year-old rookie? Is Esteban Ocon off to Haas?

Oh, and not everyone’s happy with the proposed new regs for 2026: the FIA is planning to introduce active aero to compensate for the new V6 hybrid engine’s energy recovery needs, and some teams think this is - to put it mildly - a silly idea.

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What time does the Spanish Grand Prix start?

The Spanish GP starts at 2pm UK time on Sunday 23 June, while qualifying gets underway the day before at 3pm sharp.

Are you the kind of person who likes to tune into the practice sessions as well? FP1 is at 12.30pm on Friday 21 June, followed by FP2 at 4pm and FP3 at 11.30am on Saturday 22.

Is it going to rain?

It might! The forecast could change but as it stands there could be showers in the vicinity of the circuit on race day. Qualifying is expected to be dry, however.

Gimme some history in 100 words or fewer.

The Spanish GP has been held at Circuit de Catalunya near Barcelona every year without fail since 1991. Former winners here are a who’s who of excellence, including champions from Nigel Mansell and Alain Prost to Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel. Oh, and Pastor Maldonado. Remember when the crash-happy Venezuelan won here in 2012? That was gloriously weird. The track was altered last year to get rid of the much-hated final chicane, but that move looks to be in vain because the Spanish GP is set to move to Madrid in 2026.

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The top three will be…

… happy about it? Actually probably not, seeing as F1 drivers are only ever satisfied when they’re winning. Which is odd given 19 of them rarely get the chance these days.

Depressingly for them (and us), it’s likely that Red Bull will be back on form this weekend on a track that suits their car much better. So Verstappen is a shoe in for the win, despite having to work hard for it a fortnight ago. Behind him though, that’s anyone’s guess. Let’s say Carlos Sainz - fuelled by unbridled passion from his home crowd - and Lewis Hamilton (who always goes well here, having won the race six times) round off the podium. TopGear.com takes no responsibility for this prediction inevitably being wrong.

Shock of the weekend?

Alpine’s drivers will get through the entire race without crashing into each other, having politely complimented each other’s performance on their way to finishing P11 and P14.

Where can I watch the Spanish GP?

As usual, Brits have two options: Sky Sports’ F1 channel, or Now TV… which streams Sky Sports’ F1 channel. Channel 4 will be showing highlights of course: the race review goes out at 7.30pm on Sunday long after the race has finished, while the qualifying show precedes it at 7.30pm on Saturday.

If you really must follow the action live but can’t get to a TV (or, er, attend the race in person) BBC Radio 5 Live will have live commentary from lights out onwards.

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