Current trends for modern circuits brings new demands, glamour and excitement to Formula One, none more so than when the circuit is urbanized right into the heart of a thriving city. Valencia Grand Prix Circuit aerial view. Photo by ...
Current trends for modern circuits brings new demands, glamour and excitement to Formula One, none more so than when the circuit is urbanized right into the heart of a thriving city.
Naturally, we associate the narrow twisty streets of Monaco as the classic street race, where overtaking is rare and the F1 show becomes pretty much a parade for the fastest cars in the world.
The all-new Valencia track is the complete contrast to this concept, offering wide; long high-speed straights and corners with a blend of medium and slow speed cornering with ample overtaking opportunities.
The hype of next weekend's venue, round 12, Telefonica grand prix of Europe, should prove everything it is supposed to be, with every driver and team starting from a blank sheet.
The track itself, constructed very much in the American style of unforgiving concrete walls and minimal run-off areas, will be waiting to catch out the unsuspecting driver. Teams will be bringing a bundle of spares as a precaution and I have a feeling they will be put to good use.
A great deal of preparation for this race has been bubbling in the background with simulations and computer sampling, suggesting a lap time in the low one minute 37 second bracket. With top end speeds in excess of 320 km/h and heavy braking zones throughout the marina area, Valencia could quickly earn the reputation of "Car breaking city".
Deployment of the safety car, which has a high probability on more than one occasion during the race, will throw a spanner into the works resulting in some interesting surprises. Down force will be a compromise, certainly during practice, as in all part time circuits the track will be very "green" until it rubbers in.
Expect fireworks galore with spectacular overtaking especially at turn 12. The set up for this begins way back to the approach of turn eight, a hard 90 degree right hander, quickly followed by a medium left kink to cross the harbor swing bridge.
Here the chasing car will tuck close into the rear wing of the car ahead, with a quick sprint into turn 10, another hard 90 degree right, then full throttle into 11, a high-speed left kink slipstreaming on the approach to 12.
An aggressive slingshot could bring rewards for the last of the late breakers like local hero Alonso, Hamilton and Massa, who proved at Hungary that he who dares wins, well almost!
The latter will be keen to shake off Ferrari's woes in recent races. Valencia's setup will be similar to that of Hockenheim, where his team gave a lackluster performance followed by disastrous mechanical failure at Hungary and so will be all out to prove the prancing horse is alive and well.
Alonso too is excited to put on a good show in front of his home crowd. Local support could provide that needed ingredient to grab, a by no means impossible podium finish, as his teammate, Piquet, demonstrated earlier in the year.
The McLaren and championship leader Lewis Hamilton combination, who is keen to get back to the "office" after the summer break, along with his dashing driving style, should be firm favorites to take the honors here.
Valencia and its regional government, have pulled out all the stops, to design and construct what looks to be a truly magnificent race circuit and can be proud to have produced what could prove to be, one of the most enjoyable and popular venues of F1.
Nevertheless, the growth to develop street scene grand prix races is fast becoming the fashionable market. Another brainchild of Bernie Ecclestone, love him or hate him, rest assured that commercial interest and tourism benefits will bring sound business to both the F1 fraternity and local city conurbation alike.
If the electric atmosphere of Melbourne and Monte Carlo are anything to go by, Valencia, then Singapore in just over month's time will be steaming at the seams.
Singapore itself is a true leap into the dark, literally! Contractual and time zone differentials make this race a late start, 20:00 hours to be precise, to bring television coverage in Europe inline with sensible viewing times.
The logistics and know how have challenged even the very best imaginations of construction engineers and designers. The solution, floodlight the entire track delivering a remarkable dimension and first ever night race in F1 history.
Openly embraced by local planners, this mammoth task on a disproportional scale and completed ahead of schedule is a remarkable feat of engineering. Every meter of tarmac, pit lane and paddock, strewn with powerful suspended lighting rigs bring artificial daylight to the entire spectacle.
Predictions here could be wide of the mark. It is one thing to design and construct this ambitious project, but quite another to put into practice. Not only is this race a blank canvass, drivers and teams will have little or no experience to draw on for this event. However, thrills, spills and all the excitement of high-speed octane adrenalin rush, I can guarantee.