Barcelona once again features in the international sporting calendar with a significant anniversary as the Formula 1 Grand Prix comes to town for the Spanish GP, marking the start of the European leg of the season.
First held in 1913 in Madrid and won by Spanish driver Don Carlos de Salamanca in a Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost (!), the event draws in F1 followers from around the world to experience the high-octane race on one of the more challenging circuits, the Circuit de Catalunya, at Montmeló, north of Barcelona, where it has been held since 1991.
The Spanish Grand Prix was suspended with the Civil War and was not reinstated until international sanctions against the Franco régime began to be lifted in the 1950s with Barcelona hosting it briefly at Pedralbes and then at Montjuic, alternating with the Jarama circuit outside Madrid.
Since Fernando Alonso began to climb up the championship league, Formula 1 has gained many new adepts in Spain and there is an enthusiastic following, accompanied unfortunately by hostility to his British rival Lewis Hamilton, who was subjected to racist abuse at the Barcelona circuit a few years ago. Barring that, local supporters contribute a festive feeling to the event and, with the centenary celebration and with the Spanish GP alternating between Barcelona and Valencia from now on, this is a great occasion to experience the sport first-hand if you are in the city.