Formula One racing is the highest class of single-seat auto racing, and is sanctioned by the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA). The Formula designation refers to the set of rules which govern the sport The Formula One season is a series of races, known as Grands Prix, held on circuit tracks or public roads. Points are awarded for race finish position, with the yearly total determining the World Championship for drivers and constructor teams.

The Spanish Grand Prix, has recently been held in a small town called Montmelo at the Circuit de Catalunya, which is 12 miles (20km) Northeast of the Barcelona city center. The race is an official Formula One event. The Spanish Grand Prix was first held in 1913 near Madrid, and has been held yearly, except for races canceled during wartime.

The track at Catalunya is appreciated as a challenge by drivers and is frequently used by racing teams for winter testing. The starting line begins a long straightway allows drivers reach very high speeds before braking for the difficult first corner. There are also many turns that are banked for high speeds. The Catalunya track’s mixture of low and high-speed corners, in addition to its abrasive and rough track surface, makes racing physically taxing and mechanically work-intensive. These conditions, along with varying winds make for increased tire wear such that it is difficult to find an optimum setup.

Michael Schumacher was quoted as being concerned about the track characteristics could make for a difficult race for the Mercedes team. Michael Schumacher, with a total of five victories, has historically been the most successful driver at Catalunya. Jacques Villeneuve is the only other active driver with a win, dating to 1997. The current Formula One standings have the McLaren-Mercedes team, with Lewis Hamilton and Jensen Button, the Lotus-Renault team, with Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean, and the Redbull-Renault team, with Sebastian Vettal and Mark Webber as the teams with drivers in the top ten finishers.

The Grand Prix of Bahrain, held in April 2012, was considered to be one of the most controversial races in recent history due to ongoing political unrest in the country. Certain foreign governments urged boycotts of the race in protest of the Bahrain government’s treatment of political protesters.