Circuit de Catalunya has released a statement responding to recent criticisms aimed at it after playing the Catalan anthem during the pre-race build-up to the Spanish Grand Prix.

During the pre-race anthems, where all F1 drivers line-up at the front of the grid, the Spanish national anthem was played before appearing to be cut short with the Catalan anthem played afterwards. The anthems have caused controversy in Spain with Catalan seeking independence which has heightened recent political and national tensions.

Circuit de Catalunya confirmed it has received a letter from the President of the Spanish motorsport federation, Manuel Avino, about the anthems with “certain considerations”.

The Barcelona circuit has responded stating since it has first hosted the Spanish F1 race in 1991 it has always played both Spanish and Catalan anthems one after the other along with both the Spanish and Catalan flags presented.

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Since F1’s revised start ceremony, which sees all drivers and key figures line-up for the anthems at the front of the grid, it has also maintained the same protocol from previous years.

Circuit de Catalunya clarified it is keen to show “the utmost respect towards the Spanish and Catalan symbols”.

Full statement from Circuit de Catalunya:

Having received a letter from Mr. Manuel Aviñó, President of the Royal Spanish Motorsport Federation, stating certain considerations about the protocol of the start ceremony of the Formula 1 Spanish Grand Prix, Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya states the following:

Ever since 1991, the year in which the first Spanish Grand Prix was staged at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, both anthems have been played on the grid 14 minutes before the start of the race. The procedure to play these anthems has always been the same: first the Spanish anthem, and then the Catalan anthem.

During this opening ceremony, and ever since the first edition of the event, both flags are shown: the Spanish flag and the Catalan flag. In fact, a new format for the ceremony was introduced in 2015, on the request of Formula 1, with the attendance of authorities and the drivers at the head of the grid, in front of the flags, to provide it with more solemnity. Indeed, last year Mr. Aviñó attended the ceremony for the first time, as President of the Royal Spanish Motorsport Federation, and during the ceremony, both anthems were played and both flags were shown.

Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya wants to express and state that it has always shown the utmost respect towards the Spanish and Catalan symbols.

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