ROUND TWELVE Round twelve of the 2008 FIA Formula One World Championship takes the Honda Racing F1 Team to Spain for the inaugural European Grand Prix in Valencia. The 57-lap race will be staged on a 5.440km (3.380-mile) street track, designed...
Round twelve of the 2008 FIA Formula One World Championship takes the Honda Racing F1 Team to Spain for the inaugural European Grand Prix in Valencia. The 57-lap race will be staged on a 5.440km (3.380-mile) street track, designed by Hermann Tilke, which uses roads surrounding the recently refurbished Juan Carlos I Marina, which was the base for the 32nd America's Cup in 2007.
The European Grand Prix marks the first time since 1997 that Spain has staged two Formula One races in the same calendar year. Whilst it is Valencia's first F1 race, the city is not a new destination for the teams. They test regularly at the Ricardo Tormo circuit, 20km from the city, but this permanent venue lacks the necessary infrastructure to stage a Grand Prix, which is why a coastal section of the city has been converted into the new street track.
The Valencia track has 25 corners and a minimum width of 14 metres all the way around the lap. Its specifications and levels of safety are a match for any venue on the F1 calendar, and importantly, it incorporates sufficient run-off for the expected top speeds of more than 300kph (186mph).
VALENCIA - THE TECHNICAL PREPARATIONS
The Honda Racing F1 Team has used data from many different sources to help with its preparations for the European Grand Prix. The first ever race meeting at Valencia took place during the last weekend of July, from which the team's engineers have obtained the telemetry from a Formula 3 car and compared it to F3 data at the Circuit de Catalunya - home of the Spanish Grand Prix - to provide a reference for the set-up of the RA108.
This data has been used in conjunction with track simulations to ascertain gear ratios and downforce levels, and early indications are that the technical demands on the cars will be similar to Hockenheim.
There will of course be some unanswered technical questions when the cars arrive in Valencia, such as the amount of grip generated by the recently laid asphalt. These will only be answered when the track action begins on Friday morning, laying great emphasis on the drivers' feedback to fine tune the balance of the cars.
Full throttle: 68%
Brake wear: High
Downforce level: High - 7/10
Tyre compounds: Soft / Super Soft
Tyre usage: Medium
Average speed: 200kph (124mph)
HONDA TEAM TALK
Ross Brawn, Team Principal
Q. How has the team approached the challenge of the new European Grand Prix in Valencia?
"Valencia is often thought of as a temporary race venue, however it is actually a permanent street circuit which is quite fast and flowing; it's not like the type of street circuit that we have been used to racing around in Monaco. There has been some racing around the track already with sportscars and Spanish F3, so we have been gathering information from those races to see what we can learn in advance of the race weekend. Valencia is going to be a medium to low downforce track with a couple of quick corners which will present a very challenging circuit in an exciting environment. One of the key aspects is that it is going to be very windy. The America's Cup is held in Valencia for this very reason however such conditions could make achieving a good balance on the cars quite tricky. The Valencia weekend is going to be a fascinating engineering challenge for the team and we are all looking forward to it."
Q. What are your thoughts on racing at the new Valencia street circuit?
"My first thoughts are that it's a circuit that we haven't raced at before and it's got barriers all around it! I think the whole of Formula One is very excited about going to Valencia. It's a beautiful city and it will be great to be racing around the streets there. We have a simulator at our UK base, as do most teams, and spending a lot of time on that has been vital in terms of learning the circuit. With a simulator, you're not getting the complete feeling of the car but you are gaining understanding of the distances and the braking points, so it's very useful. We have some very fast circuits like Monza, Spa and Silverstone on the calendar and then the slower circuits like Monaco and Hungary, and we're expecting Valencia to be somewhere in the middle. It's also got the added excitement of being surrounded by barriers which really focuses your mind and demands that you give full concentration around every single lap."
Q. Are you looking forward to racing at Valencia?
"The challenge of learning a new circuit is always exciting, particularly when it is an unusual venue such as the new street circuit in Valencia. Despite preparing as much as we can in advance of the race, our track walk with the engineers on Thursday and the practice sessions on Friday will be absolutely key to learning the track and assessing the grip levels. A new track always opens up the field and gives an opportunity for the driver to make an impact as our feedback will be very important in achieving the correct set-up. We have prepared well and I am looking forward to the weekend and the potential to score some points. We can expect the race weekend to be very hot which will add to the physical challenge for the drivers, car and team. I'm a big fan of Valencia as a city; it's a beautiful location, and hopefully the race will bring a lot of new fans to Formula One."
Honda in Spain
Honda has had a commercial presence in Spain since 1986 with the creation of Montesa-Honda (motorcycles). The car division, Honda Automoviles Espana SA, was founded in 1988 and there are now five divisions to Honda's Spanish business: cars, motorcycles, power products, logistics and finance. Car sales reached a record 26,250 units in 2007.
Earthdreams in Spain
The team's 'earthdreams experience' will be in Valencia for the European Grand Prix weekend. Situated in the Motorbox Centre, the spectacular 12-metre high dome, which made its debut at the British Grand Prix, will be open to the public from Thursday 21 August. The earthdreams experience is equipped with a high definition, five screen, 180 degree video theatre which showcases Honda's racing heritage and environmental initiatives.
New to HondaRacingF1.com
New to HondaRacingF1.com is a set of three Honda Racing TV features from the 2008 Goodwood Festival of Speed plus thoughts from Jenson and Ross in the video preview to the European Grand Prix. The media website at www.HondaRacingF1.com/media holds the archive of all of the team's press releases, along with a complete set of photography going back to Honda's first race in 1964.