It is fair to say that the bittersweet Spanish GP was one of the best races so far this season, however, thousands of fans will not remember the event for the beauty of racing. The track in Barcelona is known for hosting big events, from Formula 1 to Moto GP, yet such expertise was not present.
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Those who have visited the venue may know that it has various access gates and routes. Nonetheless, the organization decided to close some of them, limiting the flexibility to access the parking, which, by the way, was not included in the ticket. To illustrate the mayhem, on Friday the FP2 finished at 18:00h and at 19:00h hundreds of vehicles were stuck in the parking, and there were no police or any personnel managing the traffic.
However, the worst was yet to come. On Saturday, two hours after the end of the qualifying session, the same scenario repeated. Cars, vans, and busses were blocked in the jungle of anarchy that became the parking. After more than 1 hour of waiting, the queue moved slowly, and after almost 2 hours of waiting, vehicles left the Municipality of Montmeló.
On Sunday, the script was not that different, this time with long jams from the early morning. At 10 am there was a 1-hour queue to drive less than 1 kilometre. The same scenario fans and F1 personnel found after the race was over, with the addition of a confusing traffic system that closed some routes, diverting the traffic in two opposite ways regardless of the users’ destination.
That was the picture for those who accessed the circuit by vehicle, but the ones who used public transport did not have better luck. The local authorities have been heavily promoting public transport although it has not improved its service, and in Montmeló station hundreds of fans experienced what locals experienced every day in Catalonia: an outdated public transport.
Those who used the train, experienced between 90- and 120-minutes wait, and the images of the packed station flooded social media rapidly.
Formula 1 has urged the Circuit to improve the situation and we’re convinced that the management of Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya will be able to overcome these difficulties. Miami held its first Grand Prix two weeks before, and even though they must improve in some aspects, mobility was not one of them.
And while the heads-up is likely to have an impact on next year’s race, the organisation should have followed the same process in circuits where the safety of teams and fans is highly questionable.