F1’s Lost Circuits: Montjuïc

The Spanish Grand Prix has called Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya home ever since it was completed back in 1991 but this is not the first track that Formula 1 has raced on in the Catalan capital. Wind the clock back to 1969 and F1 was racing around Montjuïc mountain, right in the centre of Barcelona. The race was held four times on Circuit Montjuïc, in 1969, ’71, ’73 and ’75 before the event moved to Jarama full-time.

Last month, I travelled to Barcelona for the 2017 iteration of the Grand Prix but I also walked around the old layout of Circuit Montjuïc, to find out what it looks like today and it definitely wasn’t what I expected.

I began at the Palau Nacional and cut through the serene parkland to reach the site of the 1992 Summer Olympic Village and the highest part of the old circuit. I knew that the old track was comprised of normal roads but it took me a while to realise that I was actually in the right place. Parked cars lined the twisting road on either side and made it difficult to tell where I was. The pit buildings had long been demolished but the road that ran alongside it still followed pretty much the same path as what it used to.

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The drivers would blast past the beautiful Palau Nacional and begin the climb back up the mountain. Image Credit: GH Photography
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They would then have to negotiate the fast left-right bends at La Pergola and Pueblo Espanol (Turns 7 & 8)

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Circuit Montjuic is the personification of the phrase “The more things change, the more they stay the same” because although it appears that the area hasn’t altered much since the 60’s, it’s the fine details that have. That, coupled with the work that was completed for the Olympic Games, make parts of the area unrecognisable today and nobody would ever guess that there was once a Grand Prix track there.

The thing that struck me most, however, was how difficult it was to find information on the circuit in general. There was no memorial to the five who were killed in 1975, nor any mention of the track ever existing while I was there. In addition, I couldn’t find any images of what Turns 6 to 11 used to look like online, it’s as if they were never part of the layout.

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