“Not the most interesting circuit” – what the drivers say about Valencia

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

This picture makes last year's race look more exciting than it was
This picture makes last year's race look more exciting than it was

The Valencia Street Circuit has given us two forgettable races so far and as a result the track is not particularly well-liked.

But what do the drivers think of it? Read on to find out.

Having a race at Valencia back-to-back with the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve makes the shortcomings of the second Spanish round of the world championship all the more apparent.

Valencia manages to combine all of the drawbacks of a temporary circuit with none of the advantages.

While Montreal is narrow, slippery, bumpy and bordered by barriers, Valencia is the opposite. It’s wider than some permanent race circuits in parts and the surface, once it’s been cleaned up by a couple of days’ running, offers decent grip.

There are but few places on the track where the drivers have to give the walls respect, which explains why we’ve never seen the safety car deployed at the circuit.

And it’s over a kilometre longer than Montreal, so the drivers will spend less time in traffic. Looking at the track diagram (below) it’s a pity the cars can’t simply head towards the start/finish straight after turn 12 – but I expect the FIA’s requirements on lap length made that an impossibility.

The inaugural race at the track was the lowest-rated ever on F1 Fanatic (yes, even lower than Bahrain 2010) and last year’s was rated only fractionally higher than the worst of the season.

But as we’ve seen before this year, you can’t just blame bad circuits for bad racing. Perhaps this year Valencia will give us a race worthy of its place on the F1 calendar.

The drivers have mixed views on the circuit:

What the drivers say about Valencia

Adrian Sutil is typically frank:

It?s not the most interesting circuit! It?s nice and smooth, so it grips up, and you don?t have too much trouble. The problem is there are no challenging corners. It?s just straight on, there?s a hairpin with a lot of run-off area, and then you turn around and go flat again. The last section is flat out, and quite easy. For a street circuit you expect exciting races, but it?s like a normal track.
Adrian Sutil

Having driven it in GP2, Kamui Kobayashi isn’t impressed:

From what I have seen so far the Valencia street circuit doesn?t seem to be the most exciting track, but I only know it from two GP2 races and racing there in Formula One will be different. I like driving over the bridge, which makes the track quite distinctive.
Kamui Kobayashi

Home driver Pedro de la Rosa struggles to find anything positive to say about it too:

A little bit of a downer for the spectators is the fact that on both Spanish circuits overtaking is very difficult. Usually you don?t see much overtaking in Barcelona or Valencia. Turn two should be the best option for overtaking, but I have not driven the Valencia street circuit yet so there might also be others.
Pedro de la Rosa

Lewis Hamilton takes a more pragmatic view:

I think it’s good for the championship to have a variety of circuits – we’ve just come from a fast, flowing road course in Canada, to a tight street track in Valencia. And, next month, we’ll be at Silverstone – one of the fastest tracks of the year, and a circuit with incredible history. As a driver, that sort of variety makes the racing exciting and unpredictable, which is all you can really ask for.

[Valencia] is not a circuit where we’ve seen too much passing in the past, but I think this year could be different – the grid is so tight, there were battles all through the field in Montreal last week, so I think we could have a close and exciting race this year.
Lewis Hamilton

And Felipe Massa likes it because he won there:

The street circuit there is not so different in terms of its characteristics to the Montreal track and on top of that, we expect to have some more updates for the F10 to make it even more competitive with those ahead of us in the championship. Valencia has not produced very exciting races so far, but I enjoy the track, as the only time I have raced there, in 2008 ?ǣ it was one of the races I missed last year after my accident ?ǣ I won.
Felipe Massa

In a survey of F1 drivers called Nico, 100% of them said they liked the circuit:

Valencia is a great track, I really like it. I know it well from racing there in GP2 last year and I’m very much looking forward to driving it in the FW32 because it?s a circuit I feel quite comfortable on. Like Monaco and Montreal, there are walls everywhere but the track?s a bit wider and I like the challenge.
Nico H???lkenberg

Valencia is a really good track and not what you would usually expect from a typical street circuit. There are a lot of corners but it?s quite fast and flowing which combined with the barriers that line the circuit means that you have to keep your concentration levels high.
Nico Rosberg

What do you think of the Valencia Street Circuit? Have your say in the comments.

Circuito Urbano Valencia - 2010 European Grand Prix
Circuito Urbano Valencia - 2010 European Grand Prix (click to enlarge)

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