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The organizational disaster of the Spanish GP: “I had never seen this in 17 years”

The organizational disaster of the Spanish GP: “I had never seen this in 17 years”

More than 270,000 people, according to official data, attended the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya over the weekend. Most agree that the event was ”an organizational disaster”. Traffic jams, misinformation, lack of security, water shortages… Many of them attended Formula 1 for the first time, but because of what happened it could be the last. Was the attendance record great for the Circuit?

Chapter 1: The Collapse

Among all the testimonies that we have been able to collect during the weekend, most refer to the collapse of the accesses because of bottlenecks. In the morning, the anticipation of some fans helped the public entrance to be scaled and correct, but there are people who stood with their car for more than two hours at the accesses of the C-35.

At the exit, the avalanche of cars collapsed the accesses until sunset . “We were stopped for more than three hours to get out, because the Mossos only let us go in one direction,” says a fan. And it is that from entrances 3 and 4, the police restricted traffic in all directions except towards Granollers, which forced everyone to take the same exit towards the motorway.

“We paid €2.40 for the bus to take you from the station to the Circuit roundabout. That was on Friday, then the trips were shorter”.

There were traffic jams from day one. Neither private security nor the Mossos were prepared for a massive event of this caliber. The lack of personnel and the non-existent control of traffic within the parking area were the main cause of the bottlenecks and the cause of despair for many fans. Although the Circuit tried to stimulate the use of public transport with the expansion of “up to 50,000 seats on the R2 line”, the collapse of Thursday and Friday made many opt for the car for the rest of the weekend.

“There were four circuit buses waiting because they did not accept card payment”

On Saturday, with double the number of people on Friday, the queues took place between the end of the Formula 1 qualifying, and up to an hour after the end of the Formula 2 race. Between 5:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m., fans in car It took around an hour and a half to cover the 500 meters that separate the car park from the exit. Something similar was experienced on Sunday, especially by those who traveled far to return home. Not even the incentive of the track invasion to gain some time helped to relax the avalanche of people.

The 2022 Spanish GP has been the most massive since 2007, with 140,000 people on Sunday.

Chapter 2: Anarchy

As for the parking, it turned out to be a scam, a real insult to the fans. «We with parking C could not access any day. In free we had to park outside the circuit in an industrial estate because there were no more spaces, you pay 30 euros and they don’t even look at the QR ». “I paid €20 for the car park that turned out to be an uncontrolled field. They had to get some kids to direct traffic, “say some of those affected.

According to official figures, more than 50,000 people attended on Friday, 95,000 on Saturday and 120,000 on Sunday. However, we do not know how the count was made, because the testimonies collected relate that in some stands the tickets were not verified, much less scanned. In fact, some accessed on Sunday with screenshots of an original entry. The official figures could be rounded down to cover up the organizational disaster of the weekend.

“You could sneak into the race with a screenshot of an original entry. They weren’t looking at anything!”

About the lack of control of people without tickets, some fans have recounted their experience on social networks, pointing to the private security company as the culprit, which turned out to be a new contract for this year. In stand A, of turns 1 and 2, stability problems were reported in the stands due to excess weight in the structure, for all those who sneaked in without a ticket and sat on the stairs. «There were 4 assistants but they were not enough. I requested the urgent presence of Mossos to evict those people from the stands. They never showed up.”

Chapter 3: No water

During the weekend the peninsula suffered the effects of an extreme heat wave that seriously conditioned the experience of the fans in Barcelona. Peaks of 35 degrees in the central hours of the day, to which add the thermal reflection of the asphalt, which produced multiple cases of heat stroke and dehydration.

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“It is a non-stop of ambulances due to heat stroke,” commented a member of the circuit staff. One person died on Saturday in the vicinity of the circuit due to a heart attack and although the emergency services tried to save him, nothing could be done. Although it was speculated that the event took place inside the Circuit enclosure, the organization clarified that it occurred outside.

The organizational disaster of the Spanish GP: "I had never seen this in 17 years"

The A-tier of turns 1 and 2 suffered stability problems due to the lack of control at the entrances.

“It’s being the hottest Grand Prix in recent years, but we can’t control the weather either,” said a Circuit member on Sunday morning. It is true that no one has the power to control time, but what can be done is to guarantee the water supply for the fans, especially when the heat wave was already planned, knowing the health risks that all this entails. It is the promoter’s obligation to guarantee the safety of the public within its facilities during the course of the event.

The shortage of water even reached the security workers themselves, who had to spend 12 and 14 hour days in full sun. «They have brought us two trucks with water because yesterday we ran out. It is being insufferable, ”said a member of access control on Saturday morning.

Both on Saturday and Sunday there was a general cut in the taps of the bathrooms of the Circuit. Even in those of the Podium Suite of the main stand, where the press had a catering room. A cut at noon due to extreme demand may be understandable, but they came from early in the morning.

If the supply cuts were focused on pressuring fans to buy bottles of water, We are talking about something very serious. «A friend went to fill the bottles in the bathroom at curve 4 and came back saying that there was no water, that it did not come out. They had cut off the water.”

The organizational disaster of the Spanish GP: "I had never seen this in 17 years"

People took refuge under the stands to withstand the heat in the absence of a tent.

Numerous testimonials also affirm that stocks of water bottles were sold out at the venue’s stallswhich in many cases had abusive prices due to high demand. “I ended up paying €4.50 for half a liter of water that wasn’t even cold. No matter how much water we carried, two or three liters were not enough. I have never spent so much money on a circuit, ”says an assistant.

«It seems to me a savagery that there are no sources of drinking water with the heat that it was. There was no shade in the stands and a bottle of water was €4. And I don’t even know how big it was, ”says a fan of Carlos Sainz’s B-tier angrily. And it is that at the Moto GP Grand Prix of Catalonia, which is usually celebrated in Junethis type of facility is enabled so that the public can cool off and hydrate. Why was something similar not enabled in the face of the extreme heat alerts that were expected?

Formula 1 has given a wake-up call to the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya and describes as “unacceptable” what was seen during the weekend. A spokesman says he has let the promoter know that all of these issues need to be ironed out for next season.

After the drop in audiences in the last decade and the restrictions of the pandemic, the Great Circus is now enjoying good health in terms of audiences and circuit attendance, also due to the arrival of new fans. Situations like the ones we have reported from the Spanish GP affect attendance at future events, as well as the image of the Circuit, which for years has been an example of effectiveness and organization in an event of the magnitude of a Formula 1 Grand Prix.

Photos: David Moreno