The operators of the Circuit de Catalunya intend to offer Formula 1 the option of bypassing the slow chicane at the end of the lap for future races.
The chicane was added to the circuit in 2007 for safety reasons, interrupting the two quick right-handers which ended the lap previously. As well as adding a tight right-left at turns 14 and 15, it slowed the preceding right-hander turn 13.
However some drivers believe removing the chicane would improve overtaking opportunities. George Russell told RaceFans last year it would be “an easy fix to a circuit that is pretty poor.” Spanish F1 driver Carlos Sainz Jnr has also said he’s keen to try the layout without it.
At present the only version of the Circuit de Catalunya which has the FIA grade one licence necessary to hold F1 races includes the chicane. The FIA has looked into the possibility of removing the chicane and the subject was discussed during the track inspection ahead of the 2021 Spanish Grand Prix.
The track’s operators confirmed to RaceFans they intend to ask the FIA to homologate two layouts at the Montmelo circuit, one with the chicane and one without, so race promoters can select which version they prefer. Some minor reinforcements of the existing safety elements at the current turns 13 and 16 will be made in order to ensure the final sector can be raced safely without the chicane.
Work has already begun on an extension to the gravel trap at turn one, which is expected to be complete by the end of March. The total area of the run-off will increase from 5,200 square metres to 7,200. The total gravel area will rise from 3,100 square metres to 5,100.
The renovations will require some trees to be felled. These will be replaced by new trees which will be planted within the circuit and surrounding area.
The last change to the circuit’s layout was made in 2021 and also involved reversing a previous alteration. Turn 10, which had been tightened in 2004 in an attempt to improve overtaking opportunities, was eased into a faster bend similar to its original shape.
A small number of circuits have FIA grade one licences for multiple layouts, though none of them currently host F1 races. They are Paul Ricard in France (five versions), Motorland Aragon in Spain (three) and Dubai Autodrome in the United Arab Emirates (two). The Bahrain International Circuit held two grands prix on different layouts in 2020.
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