From the stands
The European Grand Prix was the worst race so far this year, according to F1 Fanatic readers.
Was it more exciting in person? Guest writer Steven Smith, who was visiting his 25th race outside of Britain, gives a view from the stands.
I travelled to Valencia for my 25th overseas Grand Prix visit. I decided to skip Friday practice and left home very early on Friday morning, arriving in the city at midday.
I checked in to my centrally located hotel, and after lunch set about looking around the city. The cathedral was perhaps the most impressive place, and from the top of the tower the cars could be heard in the distance as they practised.
Nowhere in the city was there anything promoting the race. It certainly is not as “jumping” as, say, Montreal.
But the set-up is very convenient: from my hotel it was a short walk to the underground station, then the track was just six stops away.
I arrived at a thinly-populated circuit and found my seat in grandstand M6, on the outside of the track just near turns eight and nine, with a gorgeous beach right behind us.
The cars appeared from the right at 300kph, then putting on the brakes for the tight right turn towards the bridge, and the left flick onto it.
Practice was pretty uneventful apart from Michael Schumacher making a mistake near the end, when he left his braking just a little too late and had to do a quick spin to get back on track.
The catering at the track is best described as expensive. A half-litre bottle of water, much needed in the high temperatures was €3 (£2.69). In the shops just outside the track you could buy a 1.5l bottle for just one Euro!
Happily, you could get your ticket scanned, leave the circuit and return, which meant it was possible to get lunch outside on the beach front. Far more choice, and far better prices than inside the track.
Qualifying went as expected and I left the circuit straight afterwards to search for some merchandise.
It took a long walk down to near the start line to find a single small tent. This was something of a missed opportunity for the organisers, as there were plenty of other people searching.
Sunday morning saw a busy GP3 race, with British drivers James Calado and Alexander Sims filling the top two places. The GP2 race afterwards was a more typical Valencia procession, though it gave Sauber reserve driver Esteban Gutierrez his first win in the category.
I didn’t bother with the F1 drivers’ parade. From experience I know the drivers themselves are too busy chatting to others on the trailer to pay attention. It gave me time for lunch back on the beach.
The race itself was never going to be the most exciting Grand Prix. But the buzz from the crowd whenever Fernando Alonso was doing something was good.
The biggest one being as he lined up for his final pit stop – which we knew was going to critical in his battle with Mark Webber .
For a fan of the British drivers like myself, the best bit was watching Jenson Button pursuing Nico Rosberg early in the race.
I spent a final night in a great city. On the flight home, some of the Lotus crew looked the worse for wear – they’d obviously enjoyed a good time post-race on Sunday once they had packed everything away.
This is a guest article by Steven Smith. If you want to write a guest article for F1 Fanatic you can find all the information you need here.
Going to the British Grand Prix this weekend? Find other people who are here:
From the stands
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- Why the Hungarian Grand Prix is a must-see race
- Why the Spanish GP was better in person than on TV
- Watching Brazil’s spellbinding F1 season finale
- Silverstone fans’ mixed views on the rain-hit weekend
- Nigel’s memories from the last 37 British Grands Prix
- F1 Fanatics meet up in Melbourne
- Watching at the Paddock Club, Parabolica and podium at Monza
- In the Paddock Club and in the stands at Spa
- Steven’s 51 F1 race visits in 25 years
Images courtesy of Steven Smith