After two years with far fewer spectators, last weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix was a sell-out with a total of around 300,000 fans attending the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya for three days. This was just what the organization needed after several years of declining fan influx, but the track and surrounding facilities struggled to cope with the crowds. The traffic around the race track came to a complete standstill, there were long queues for refreshments and public transport was overwhelmed by the gigantic stream of people.
Formula 1 started on Sunday Motorsport.com know that it had made it clear to the organizer that such a representation was not acceptable. On Tuesday, Circuit CEO Josep Lluis Santamaria explained that he had received a letter from F1 boss Stefano Domenicali to make it a better event for fans going forward. “He congratulated us on the weekend, stressed the importance of the Spanish Grand Prix in the history of Formula 1 and the passion of the fans here for the sport,” said Santamaria. Motorsport.com† “In the letter, F1 also explained that we need to work together on things, both at the track and at F1, to make the experience even better for fans. Domenicali has said that Formula 1 and the circuit need to come together to discuss things like traffic flow, but also other things to make it a better event.”
Don’t expect a busy Friday
According to Santamaria, the organization had underestimated how many people came onto the track on Friday, before it was particularly crowded on Saturday and Sunday. This caused major problems for RENFE, the transport company that runs trains between Montmelo and Barcelona. “Mistakes were made that we need to work on,” admits Santamaria. “It was a Grand Prix that ranks third in the ranking of the busiest races. RENFE told us they transported around 75,000 people, more than a quarter of the total number of visitors over the weekend. That’s half the people who came to Montmelo in 2019 during the last GP before the pandemic. On Saturday there were problems and it was difficult to empty Montmelo station, RENFE used more trains and ran more often. On Sunday, the mayor of Montmelo announced that things had gone reasonably well. Friday more people came than we thought. There were 54,000, while we had expected around 25,000 people. We’re working on both themes to please everyone and also to understand that people weren’t having a good time. Not everyone had problems, but there were a lot of delays at certain times.”
Arriving at the track, fans complained about the catering, where supplies were quickly running out. It was also scorching hot at 36 degrees Celsius. After a busy Friday, the track tried to look better on Saturday with more catering, but that didn’t turn out to be easy. “It was very hot on Friday and there were long queues. From Friday to Saturday we used 45 outlets originally intended for Sunday and another seven tents with extra drinks. We’ve given fans permission to bring coolers with bottles up to a liter and a half. We didn’t take our hats off either, which usually happens at events like this. It’s possible that there was a lack of water in some places, but we made sure there were enough supplies and plenty of other drinks. We have no control over the heat, we were expecting some crowds but the weather was against us.”