European Grand Prix - In Valencia to stay competitive Maranello, 22nd June - The ninth round of this year's Formula 1 World Championship will be the twentieth running of a European Grand Prix, although the name has been used more often than that:...
European Grand Prix - In Valencia to stay competitive Maranello, 22nd June - The ninth round of this year's Formula 1 World Championship will be the twentieth running of a European Grand Prix, although the name has been used more often than that: in the early years of the championship, the title of European GP was added to that of an existing race, as an "honour," so that for example, the very first championship race, the 1950 British GP was also known as the European GP.
Since then, the name has been used to get round the rule that each country can only hold one Grand Prix per year. In the past, it has been staged at Brands Hatch, the Nurburgring (the nearest it came to a permanent home, with twelve races being held in the Eifel mountains,) Donington and Jerez, before arriving at its current location, the Valencia street circuit in 2008. It is fair to say that the addition of a second Spanish race to the calendar is down to the popularity and success of Fernando Alonso, as until the man from Oviedo began racking up race wins and world titles, the Spaniards preferred their motor sport on two wheels rather than four and even the Spanish Grand Prix sometimes struggled to produce a large crowd.
As for our other driver, Felipe Massa returns to Valencia for the first time since 2008, as last year's race was the first one he missed after his Budapest accident. However, the Brazilian can claim to be unbeaten at this circuit as he won the inaugural event in 2008. Fernando's best result here was a sixth place last year. Apart from Felipe's victory, Ferrari has five other European Grand Prix wins to its name, four of them courtesy of Michael Schumacher and one through Rubens Barrichello, all of these at the Nurburgring.
As has been widely reported in the weeks leading up to this race, Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro will this weekend introduce several modifications and updates to the F10, although not quite as far reaching or extensive as these same reports have suggested! The most significant feature is a new configuration for the exhaust system, aimed at improving the aerodynamic efficiency of the car. There will also be additional aero updates to the rear end of the car. However, these changes are just the first in a series of improvements to the F10 which will roll out over what is a very busy part of the season, with four races coming in the space of the next five weeks preceding the summer break. The intensive development programme will run throughout this period. Part of this phase of development included an aero test, when Scuderia test driver Marc Gene was at the wheel for one day last week at Vairano. Also last week, the two race drivers were in Maranello for sessions on the simulator, in preparation for the 57 laps of the 5.419 km track around the Valencia harbour. It is not just the fact that the circuit is near water that gives it something in common with the Montreal circuit, because although Valencia requires slightly higher downforce levels than the Canadian venue, it is similar in having some high speed sections mixed in with stop-start corners, yet again making good traction and braking two priorities on the car set-up sheet.
Therefore there is every chance that the F10 could display the same degree of competitiveness that it showed a fortnight ago across the Atlantic. The fact the team was disappointed with Alonso "only" managing to finish third in Canada, after the run of play with backmarkers went against him, shows that within Ferrari the feeling is that the championship is still very open. By the way, after the race in Valencia there will be still ten races to go....