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

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

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  1. Dan Thorn (@dan-thorn) said on 22nd June 2010, 10:07

    The last sector is alright. That’s about it. Everywhere else looks the same. No character, no anything.

    • Henry said on 22nd June 2010, 12:08

      The major issue I have with it is not whether its got character – it just produces races that are repetitively dull!

    • Dr Skyhook said on 22nd June 2010, 22:38

      what a let down after Canada this weekend will be.. Thank god the world cup is on.

  2. sw6569 (@sw6569) said on 22nd June 2010, 10:14

    even looking at the track design its hard to see where there might be an overtaking place. Perhaps turn 12 or turn 2 or at a stretch 17. But all of these are unlikely.

    Does make you wonder what the track designers were thinking

    Its like Monaco without the glitz, the glamour, the razor tight bends, the tunnel…oh wait. its just a terrible track then!

    • Scribe (@scribe) said on 22nd June 2010, 16:57

      When they first built canada it was a bit rubbish too though, quite simualr to Valencia in that there wasn’t really anywhere you could overtake, an although you always had to respect the walls, the whole place was abit sterile and boring. Now Canada is easily one of the best circuits on the calender, up there with Intergalos and Spa for the sheer quality of the racing an the changes wern’t that significant.

      Valenica produces boring racing but I don’t think it’ll be that hard to fix, get rid of a few of the flicks to get the cars closer, an iron out some of these bends on the long straights an sharpen the corners after these straights for better overtaking. Grip could be reduced by resurfacing the track but they’ll always be more than Canada because of the support races. Maybe plant a few trees? Narrow bits of the track?

      My biggest problem with the circuit is you may have guessed Tilke’s baffling decision to use any open space for a downforce dependent bend, on street tracks, as Canada prooves, less but harder corners is better, an if it drops lap times, then great! More laps, more times round said harder corners and less downforce to tackle them with.

      • Dr. Mouse said on 22nd June 2010, 18:05

        “Maybe plant a few trees? Narrow bits of the track?”

        Put them both together for truly exciting racing… Plant a few trees in the narrow bits of the track :)

        • damonsmedley said on 23rd June 2010, 5:33

          Valencia and Singapore are practically the same. OK Valencia is a bit more high speed but Singapore should only be on the calendar – not Valencia. Singapore adds diversity to the calendar as it is a night race and it is a street circuit.

          Maybe plant a few trees? Narrow bits of the track?

          – That is Singapore.

  3. BasCB said on 22nd June 2010, 10:15

    “This picture makes last year’s race look more exciting than it was” with only one car to be seen. But you are right there, the people on the grandstand in the background there are making some fuss, which is more than we saw in the race.

  4. Sush Meerkat said on 22nd June 2010, 10:19

    Well Bridgestone are bringing different grades of tyres this time round, so hopefully the jump on tyre types will contribute to “improving the show”…

    ..ARGGHHH *gouges own eyes out*

  5. W-K (@w-k) said on 22nd June 2010, 10:35

    If this race is as boring as the last two here. I think I am going to kidnap Bernie and torture him until he agrees to have the European Race at Brands Hatch and he personally will foot the bill to do the upgrades. Then there will be at least one race where I don’t have to travel far and can sleep in my own bed.

    • Henry said on 22nd June 2010, 12:10

      I’m just very glad that I will be at glastonbury for the most boring race of the season, so I will really not be in a state to care…Bahrain at least had the excitement of being the first race of the season – still an absolute disaster, but valencia has nothing…having said that, since expectations are so low, we might still be surprised…the grid is very close at the moment after all.

      • graigchq said on 22nd June 2010, 13:06

        yep – i’m off to glasto too.. my friend has a stall which will be showing the race, but i am fully prepared to just iplayer the highlights when i get back.

        cider and sunshine anyone??? :P

  6. Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 22nd June 2010, 10:47

    I think Lewis Hamilton is dead on – you need to have a mix of circuits. You can’t just have a calendar populated by Sivlerstones and Monzas. You need the slower stuff in there, too.

    That said, I think there is room for improvement in Valencia. First of all, they need to make it a proper street circuit. There’s acres of run-off around the first corner, for instance. Bring the barriers in closer, like in Monaco and Singapore.

    Secondly, reprofile a few parts. Get rid of turns 2, 3, 4 and 5. Make turn 8 a sweeper. The effect would be to make it a high-speed blast from the start line to the brdige

    Next, scrap the switchback. Make the straight longer and just drop a giant hairpin in there. While we’re at it, we can make the final sector such that it is full of actual corners instead of a few gentle bends that barely reuqire ny effort. And lastly, move the final corner up and make it a blind double-apex.

    Something like this works for me:


    • qwerty_uk said on 22nd June 2010, 11:05

      I know this would require some serious demolition and infrastructure work. But I think this layout might just work:

      • Brilliant qwerty… brilliant.

      • Mike said on 22nd June 2010, 14:20

        I see what you did there!
        Qwerty_uk, how’d you do that?
        Just time and artistic merit?

        Actually, I like Prisoner Monkeys track, it actually looks distinct now.
        As in, not just another track.
        For safety, Maybe they could make the turn before the Bridge tighter, This would also probably turn it into a passing opportunity.
        And maybe adjust the run in into the southern most corner.

        But, I do like it.

        • qwerty_uk said on 22nd June 2010, 16:20

          Yeah, just had Gilles-Villeneuve layout open on another tab and roughly copied it bit-by-bit. Didn’t take long.

          Thanks for tweeting it, Keith!

    • Zahir (@zahir) said on 22nd June 2010, 14:24

      As you said Hamilton is right when it comes to the variety of the circuits but we already have Monaco and Singapore. We don’t need Valencia.

      Street circuits are meant to be special and Monaco and Singapore have something special about them, Valencia has nothing.

      Now with Rome GP entering the frame, street circuits may loose their unique charm. Although having said that, Valencia doesnt have any charm to lose.

  7. Karan said on 22nd June 2010, 11:20

    Whoa Keith, where do you find all these excerpts from?

  8. Gilles said on 22nd June 2010, 11:27

    Maybe we can ask Bernie to hire some Chinese knowhow in the art of ‘rainmaking’ …

  9. Oli said on 22nd June 2010, 11:28

    I’ve said this before but Valencia got the euro gp because of alonso being double champion. The was 4 years ago now so maybe England should get it

    • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 22nd June 2010, 11:50

      England can barely organise one race. Two would probably blow their minds.

      And given the state Donington Park is in, there isn’t actually a second circuit that could host a race – Brands Hatch is too narrow and there’s no room for redevelopment.

    • IDR (@idr) said on 23rd June 2010, 5:01

      “Valencia got the euro gp because of alonso being double champion…”

      Sorry Oli, but Valencia got the Euro GP just because the city council pay the bill.

      Personally, I would like to see Portimao being part of the F1 Championship. It looks a great circuit.

      I think for Valencia, Bernie has (voluntarily) lost a good opportunity for mixing F1 with America’s Cup. Both competitions have similar spirit in the sense both are the pinnacle of their categories, and the ambience you could create just letting each sailing team to open their headquarters during the F1 weekend could give the race much better image raising the level of the circuit, if not on a technical point of view, at least in terms of glamour on the backstage of the race.

      Being there with all team headquarters closed (and all advertising of their sponsors eliminated) gives the harbor very poor looking, mainly when the rest of the circuit is surrounding an underdeveloped city area and an industrial area around a commercial harbor.

  10. wasiF1 said on 22nd June 2010, 11:28

    The fast flowing corners at the end of the circuit is only the talking point of the whole track It is by far the worst track in my F1 career. I really want that the race is Valencia is swapped by France or even Autódromo Internacional do Algarve in Portugal in 2011.

    What is the FIA’s requirements on lap length in F1?

    • HounslowBusGarage (@hounslowbusgarage) said on 22nd June 2010, 13:28

      As I recall, it works the other way round.
      The minimum length is 3 km I think, and there is then a fairly complicated sum involving the width of the circuit, length of the circuit, duration of the event and class of racing car etc to arrive at the maximum number of cars permitted to race on the track. But beneath that, there is a note that says that none of this applies to Formula 1 . . . So all the cars with valid entry to F1 races can race at any track in the FIA championship and the rules about numbers of cars, length of track are irrelevant. It’s the only way that they could justify the inclusion of Monaco, after all.

  11. panache said on 22nd June 2010, 11:36

    It doesn’t matter what *we* like in a circuit, what matters is what bernie-the-tempest likes. He likes business and business is all about money. And as long as Bernie is at the helm, newer( or even existing ) circuits will all bear the impression of the most-boring F1 guy on earth(maybe in the entire universe too) – TILKE!!!

    Tilke seems more concerned about building tracks that ‘exemplify’ the local culture onto the race track, than ‘amplify’ overtaking on them. Seriously, does it even matter to have an overhead walkway( like China ) or have cars ‘cruise’ over a bridge( valencia )when none of them contribute to racing proper??? No wonder the circuits that *do* offer excitement to F1 fans are those that have not been ‘molested’ by Tilke & Co.

    The recipe for exciting races( for race circuits ) is simple – No run-off areas, more walls, narrow(er) roads, no sweeping corner BS, more hairpins, atleast 2 long straights, longer start-to-first-corner stretch, steeper declines at overtaking points.

    Add these to Valencia, and we wouldn’t need the gods to pour rain to inflame excitement.

  12. sato113 (@sato113) said on 22nd June 2010, 11:38

    I think Allianz were holding a shotgun to Nico’s head when he said that.
    (remember he used to be their b*tch when he was at williams)

    • HounslowBusGarage (@hounslowbusgarage) said on 22nd June 2010, 12:25

      Well, if I remember rightly both the GP2 races held at Valencia were good. Certainly the first one was action packed, which is why I was looking forward to the F1 cars only to be disappointed.

  13. Marc Connell said on 22nd June 2010, 11:41

    I think the track was rushed. They should use valencias race circuit instead of the road course.

    • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 22nd June 2010, 11:53

      Two problems with that:

      1) The race circuit isn’t very good. It works well for MotoGP, but not for four wheels.

      2) The teams are intimately familiar with it given the amount of testing that takes place there. All a race would do is be a carbon copy of Barcelona with processional races.

      • BasCB said on 23rd June 2010, 8:46

        The road cource is not even good in racing GP2. Let them use it for testing, but not good for racing.

  14. Bleu said on 22nd June 2010, 12:02

    I don’t think the road course is much better – for cars. For bike racing it’s nice and it’s great for spectators as it’s build in small area and crowd can see about everything on that circuit.

    Street circuit – well. Judging by the layout I actually expected it to be better of the two circuits brought into calendar in 2008, but after two races both in Valencia and Singapore I have to think otherwise.

    The track has too many corners. Of course by the location you can’t go everywhere (city and sea give restrictions). Turn 11 is too long, I think a sharper corner would be better at that point even if it would be fast one. Compare to Istanbul turn 11 for example.

    The final sector has some fast corners but at the same time they cause that there isn’t good straight for overtaking. Also thinking turns 18 and 19, I would change those to single medium-speed corner, taking last corner of Melbourne as an example.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 22nd June 2010, 12:17

      Yep the Valencia road course would be no better. Way too tight and twisty for F1. Even GP2 had poor races when they went there. Fine for testing, though.

  15. Steezy said on 22nd June 2010, 12:11

    Everyone talks about Bahrain being the only boring race but Catalonia was also rather rubbish as usual. I think the Spanish races needed to be complained about on the same level as some of the other boring races but I guess seeing as it’s in “ze European homeland” it’s different.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 22nd June 2010, 12:19

      We did a poll on which tracks should be dropped from the calendar earlier this year and Valencia got almost as many votes as Bahrain:


      Those were the two least well-liked circuits, the rest were quite a way behind.

      • Scribe (@scribe) said on 22nd June 2010, 17:29

        You have to wonder how much that result was effected by this years snoozer, if you’d had the pole last year, where the race was alright it might have been different.

        An to be honnest the race suffered a great deal from outside factors, all of which have been discussed. Most of all that ridiculous new section, without it I’d be upset if Bahrain lost it’s race, at least they try there.

        • Kate said on 22nd June 2010, 17:40

          I think its the new section which has put people off, it ruined what was a previously Ok-ish track, the new one just doesn’t seem to flow properly.

          • newnhamlea1 (@newnhamlea1) said on 22nd June 2010, 18:36

            yeah it goes from, long sweeping corners, with a few medium speed corners and a couple of hairpins, to a wierd twisty section that does not seem to fit the character of the track at all.

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