Carlos Sainz has spoken of how special a home grand prix is to drivers, but also of how different the weekend is because of it.
For most of the grid, they are now racing at circuits they frequented from a young age. And the majority of the crowds are there for that very reason, meaning the populous of flags and chants suddenly become very personal.
“When racing at home, the feeling is so different to any other race – every time you drive out on track you know there’s more people watching and cheering for you, and this makes the whole weekend very special,” he said. “I’ve been to the Barcelona track since I was nine years old, and now I’m the one racing there, it’s just amazing.
“Of course the whole weekend is also a bit busier than normal, but you just do everything with a big smile on your face, as I know I’m a very lucky person.”
The Spaniard has been honoured with his own grandstand, which can house 4,000 adoring fans. It is something Sainz is hoping to see for years to come.
“To have my own grandstand is awesome,” he continued. “It’s an initiative that we started last year and it worked so well, there was such a huge amount of support from the fans, that this year we’re doing it again.
“We will be more than 4,000 people there this year, so it will be even bigger and more special than in 2016. It will be amazing to drive past them every lap, I just can’t wait and I hope that this becomes a tradition every year!”
The Scuderia Toro Rosso driver is very fortunate that both of his best finishes in Formula 1 have come at his home race. He is hoping to continue this tradition again in 2017.
“I have such good memories of my Spanish Grands Prix!” he added. “It’s very special to know that my two best race weekends as a Formula 1 driver have happened at my home GP.
“This means that all the support I receive works, I get an extra boost and, all together, we become very strong. I hope I’m able to keep it this way this year and add another good memory to the list!”