The Valencia weekend

The European Grand Prix in Valencia was a very dull event and a clear indication, once again, that the circuit must be changed. The track allows no overtaking even with KERS, DRS and the new generation Pirelli tyres. There is no point in trying to pretend that the race was good and rather look for solutions to the problem. In addition it should be added that the current circuit offers no great value to Valencia as the overall image is that of a dockyard and not the interesting city that lies beyond the docks…

84 thoughts on “The Valencia weekend

  1. Joe, you are absolutely right. Valencia has so much to offer with the Calatrava architecture. A race around those buildings would be ace and would have made Valencia an instand classic.

  2. It was a bit of a snooze fest, I thought that as the Pirellis had made an interesting race in Barcelona, they could have pulled off the same trick in Valencia, obviously not. It seemed the pace difference between the hard and soft wasn’t as great as predicted, and the softer tyre didn’t seem to degrade as much either. Maybe the teams are starting to get used to these tyres, but it shouldn’t fall on Pirelli’s shoulders to spice up the races, as you say Joe, the track has to play it’s part as well.

  3. Absolutely agree. If Valencia couldn’t be interesting this year, how can it ever become interesting without major changes?

    It doesn’t help that for those watching on TV, you have no idea where anyone is on track, all we see is cars driving around – unable to overtake – surrounded by grey concrete walls. There’s no character at all.

  4. Agreed 100%

    I actually dozed off partway through this, and I stayed awake during the 2 hour red flag ag Canada which was more interesting!

  5. “Like a video game with the scenery removed” is how my dad describes the Valencia street circuit. You feel bored just at the sight of the place, nevermind if the race is rubbish.

    It’s a poor design, set in the most unattractive part of town. At least Monaco has the glamour and the sheer excitement of seeing the cars dancing through the narrow streets.

    It’s such a shame that a country that already held the unenviable reputation of hosting the season’s most boring grand prix now holds the two most boring grand prixs.

  6. On a seperate note, is F1 shown on TV in France? I’m going to be there suring the British GP weekend and would like to watch if possible

    1. Shain,

      Look for TF1. They have some lightweights but also Jacques Laffite and Jean-Louis Moncet, a veteran journo as commentators

  7. You make your points well. Which leaves me begging the question, why is it there in the first place. With so much pressure on the calendar, why have a dull circuit that does little to entertain?

    Ross in Bali

  8. Fully agree with you Joe. In fact, thanks to too many boring races from F1, we are losing sense of what a race really is. At this rate we’ll be calling processions “races.”

  9. Here here Joe, totally agreed. I watched the race near the venue and thought it was very very boring abeit Webber and Alonso’s battle for 2nd. The cities Cummunidad de Valencia must sit up and make neccessary changes.. and as you said the city has a lot more to offer than a dull dockyard. Not sure why they cannot somehow loop the city of arts and sciences. . Anyway, we will wait and see.

  10. As a Valencian I’m disheartened that we got a race and it turned out to be a weak event. You’re right that it doesn’t really show off the city either. Valencia was originally a river city with her back to the sea, so you can’t replicate Monaco’s hotels next to yachts. (The river was diverted in the fifties and now it’s path is a sunken park, in case you were wondering why you didn’t see it.)

    Lower categories had more overtaking, so it’s clear to me that high downforce tracks are never going to be very good for providing exciting Formula 1 races. DRS helps a little, and that’s why the race was better than the last few, but you can only do so much. It’ll probably be a similar story in Hungaroring – though Silverstone works, why is that?

  11. Joe, spot on as always, I watched the first 5 laps, and it was obvious that the race would be a bore. My wife watched 5 mins on Qualifying on Sat and wondered why was a race being held in an industrial port. My view is keep Turkey (great track) and dump Valencia

  12. I only saw the highlights and there weren’t many. I second your suggestion that the track needs to be changed, in fact HAS to be changed before another GP can be held there would be there my suggestion.

  13. Thanks Joe,

    I thought I was the only one falling asleep during the telecast. Totally agree, it’s time to redesign the track or move on to another venue. I don’t know what the area is like, but some of the camera pans accidently caught what looked like demolition works in progress and rather ugly dockside buildings, not quite Monaco! Maybe have the race at night so you don’t focus on the surrounds.

    Keep up the good work Joe.

  14. Would it not make more sense to get rid of the european GP in it’s current form and give the space on the calender to france. The spanish GP could then alternate between Valencia and Montemelo, similar to what they do in germany (or will this be unfeasible due to valencia being a street circuit ?).

    Also what is with this strange news I have been hearing that ron walker is saying 17 of the circuits will switch to indycar if the 2014 engines don’t rev to over 15000rpm. This sounds like either Ron Walker has had a massive knock to the head or someone is seriously delusional.

  15. Would it not make more sense to get rid of the european GP in it’s current form and give the space on the calender to france. The spanish GP could then alternate between Valencia and Montemelo, similar to what they do in germany (or will this be unfeasible due to valencia being a street circuit ?).

    Also what is with this strange news I have been hearing that ron walker is saying 17 of the circuits will switch to indycar if the 2014 engines don’t rev to over 15000rpm. This sounds like either Ron Walker has had a massive knock to the head or someone is seriously delusional.

    1. noshpit,

      Ron did get a massive bang on the head last yer when he fell of his bike, but I have spoken with him since and he seems to be sane. This is political. I will explain it later today

  16. I agree entireley Joe – but it is more impressive and only slightly less exciting than Barcelona was so I would vote for getting shut of the Circuit de Catalunya, and get rid of some of those chicanes at Valencia.

    When the calendar is so congested, two boring spanish races is too much. Had it not been for Lewis, Barcelona would have been quite boring too. One is more than enough.

  17. Not the most exciting race I’ve ever seen, but then again it was never going to be, but apart from the ‘usual suspects’ who rarely if ever watch F1 but always say it’s boring, the TV viewing figures don’t tally with their usual anti-F1 comments.

    It was the highest viewing figure that Valencia has had (not that surprising considering the season so far), but it achieved the 2nd highest spot (peak) on the BBC all day.

    Still having said that, 2 races in Spain is a bit too much.

  18. Valencia was a total snorefest. Even more boring than Monaco usually is. That is some acheivement. Valencia has got to be removed from the calendar. Never had an interesting race there. Total waste of time.

  19. I was amazed to hear Brundle say this was the 5th Valencia race. I don’t remember a single one of them…

  20. A boring race made worse by being broadcast on the main Fox channel here in the U.S.

    If anyone doesn’t yet have concerns about Rupert Murdoch controlling the sport, they should watch a Fox F1 broadcast, where the normally very good Speed Channel commentators are clearly told to “dumb it down”, presumably to appeal to a more mass audience.

    Roll on Silverstone!

  21. Unfortunately going by the interview on the grid before the race good ole Bernie sounds like he’d rather drop Barcelona than Valencia.

    Speaking of Bernie, I don’t know whether you picked up on this while in Valencia but apparently after failing to get the teams to embarass Jean Todt over the new engines he’s now trying to coax the circuits to say they’ll stop hosting F1 races if the new engines come in.

    Seems odd that he’s trying to get tracks to say they won’t host the races when hosting fees is a large chunk of FOM’s earnings, also seems very odd that Silverstone is on the list of those ready to dump F1 races considering their tied into F1 for so long now.

  22. Cannot disagree Joe, it was dull. The BBC pre and post show was more interesting. To be fair, I cannot give a fully informed opinion as I found myself watching most of the race on fast forward…….thank you sky+

  23. Trying to find solutions to the dull race is more interesting than the race itself. Although I will say I loved seeing packed enthusiastic (for Alsonso) grandstands.

  24. Off topic, Joe, but ny comment on the supposed news that circuits are joining forces and, what’s more, accusing the teams of causing the engine “noise” crisis which (they say) leads them to threaten giving up F1 for indycar – indycar where the cars are FAR quieter and much more restrcted than today’s OR tomorrow’s F1 engines?

    This looks like the most transparent silliness yet entirely created by Bernie.

    Or am I too cynical?

  25. I couldn’t agree more. Valencia is a beautiful city, but the track doesn’t showcase that at all. Boring circuit, tedious race. Hope they axe it…….time for a French Grand Prix surely? 2 races in one country seems silly these days.

  26. The track moves around too much. Why does a 3.3. mile long track have 25 corners? Anyway, the track looked packed but I won’t miss it.

  27. It was funny watching the Beeb and Ecclestone talking it up. It was so obvious that Ecclestone had sent his ‘orders out’.

  28. Exactly my point!

    The circuit looks great on paper, the combo of turn 19 to25 is great, for the drivers, but for the race fan attending the event, it is a horro show of how NOT to do it.

    This year will see the Indian GP, next year Austin GP will, probably, also feature on the calendar and then we´ll have Sochii. What is wrong by having the European GP at Jerez? Imola? If France are so eager to come back on the calendar, then start out by hosting the European GP at Paul Ricard. Easy-peasy

  29. How about changing the circuit designer?

    One thing I do like is the last few corners. The sweepers leading into the tight, final corner is pretty cool.

    There were a few decent overtakes, a few boring DRS drive-bys… but compared to other races, I have to agree that this is the worst track on the calendar.

  30. RE: dull – I blame Lewis Hamilton for not doing anything controversial.

    Also qualifying was another anti-climax. Hopefully some tweaking can be done to entice the teams to go for it instead of saving rubber. Driver and/or constructor points possibly for the top 3?

  31. I even fell asleep during qualifying on Saturday! Same old same old on Sunday…and yes, I fell asleep again.

    The circuit is definitely a candidate for Bernies “artificial rain idea”. Would have been good to see Vett-el under pressure in the wet again.

  32. So, without rain or Kers or DRS what is left? The same old “stuff” when put into a circuit best left to America’s Cup yachts. The “real” problem is obviously Adrian Newey! So why not ban him?
    Hat’s off to RBR for producing a car that can still win even when the “spec” car formula is there for all to follow.
    I wonder which F1 team CFO is asking why the team is paying such large amounts of money for its underperforming players?
    Time for a top to bottom overhaul of F1, starting with the “Bolt” and going all the way down, and I’m not looking for a “green” solution, that’s as one way as Kers and DRS.

  33. Refreshing that someone actualy tells the truth. Though many other F1 sites did make me laugh with their enthusiastic descriptions of Valencia’s GP weekend…

  34. In my opinion it does allow overtaking. The gaps were just so huge there weren’t any battles.

  35. Totally agreement overhere…it was de first F1 race in my life I walked away from….ok well it was to photograph an original Ferrari Testa Rossa driving around the Zandvoort circuit…but still!

  36. I was heartbroken when Bernie said he was looking to extend the contract to run in Valencia. The place is dire. As a race track and a means to promote the city, it fails on epic scale. I wouldn’t mind it so much if it was Spain’s only race, but even then, why not just use the race circuit that’s already there?

    If there’s going to be a European GP, then it should at least tour Europe. Take in some of the venues that can’t afford to pay the fees every year. You could easily have a good 4 year cycle of France (Magny Cours etc), Austria (Red Bull/A1/Ostriech ring), Netherlands (Zandvoort), Czech Rep. (Brno). You could also add San Marino to that so we could go back to Imola, or use it as a way to keep good but poorly attended places like Istanbul Park. That’d be way better than racing round a dusty fish market and concrete strewn harbour

  37. A friend and myself went to the race weekend in Valencia this weekend. In fact I am writing this from my hotel before enjoying another relaxed night out. Whilst the race was another disappointment, despite the numerous rule changes, I have enjoyed my time in the city. Our stand was right next to the beach, the weather has been fantastic and hearing the pitch of the engine notes every morning was always a thrill. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not calling for it to stay on the calendar, even if it could. But I must say I have enjoyed my time here bookending the race weekend. For me, it almost doesn’t get better – F1, great weather, and a beach. Is there some sort of contact obligation for a EU gp of somesort, or is it next to certain that it will be swallowed up by one of the emerging GPs.

  38. It’s not at all interesting to see it on TV: 90 degree corner…concrete walls…90 degree corner…concrete walls…..90 degree corner….concrete walls….oh, look, a crane!….90 degree corner…..

  39. Change Valencia? How about chuck it entirely. Waste of time (just like the rest of the season).
    But credit where credit’s due – Sir Adrian Newey? Or Adrian Newey OBE – for services to one horse races? That has a ring to it.
    Sorry, can’t give credit to Vettel. Won’t rate him until he actually goes wheel-to-wheel with someone.

  40. What were they thinking when they built it? The circuit location looks totally boring with not much happening apart from the stands. As far as the racing, The circuit was built rather recently with fairly recent cars in mind. If any thing the cars 4 or 5 years ago, when the circuit was designed and constructed, had even bigger problems passing. Would it not have made more sense to upgrade the circuit outside of town?

  41. Actually, if Vettel wasn’t racing the race would’ve been great with switch between Webber and Alonso happening 3 times with a great uncertainty on the race result till the end.

  42. Joe – how much (if at all) is Valencia tied to Santander money? Given their investment in the sport and Fernando, would this be a reason why the GP could be kept in the calendar?

  43. Blunt and straightforward as always. I do enjoy your no nonsense way of getting straight to the point.

    From a purely TV spectators point of view, I must admit that the surrounds of the dockland are what kept my interest in the coverage. Perhaps it is simply the lack of on track action that caused it, but my interest was in seeing what was lying around the race track, and just how clean it appeared to be for what really is an industrial zone. But I repeat, maybe if there was some actual racing….

  44. Could not agree more, deadly dull. The sport has become very artificial with degrading tyres, DRS and Kers, after Canada perhaps Bernie was rught and we need to have an artificial water obstacle!

    Instead of banning all development and testing why not allow those teams at the back of the grid some tesing time and give progressively less to the teams ahead of them, that would allow the slower cars to upgrade (if funds available) whilst holding back the faster teams at the front. I would suggest amount of testing being team based (rather than individual car position) and that the team position would be based on their highest finishing car. 24 hours of testing for last team, 22 for the 11th position and so on…

    Alternatively they could just give Vettel the ttrophy now and let him spectate while everyone else competes for the secons spot 😀


  45. Not that I disagree about the track Joe, but in this case the track wasn’t entirely to blame for the dull race. Let’s face it, no accidents, no retirements, no drama. Who exactly was supposed to be overtaking who? There wasn’t anyone getting held up by other drivers. Like you tweeted during the race, they were running two by two for the most part and when that happens it tends to mean everyone spreading out with very little displacement of pace (no quick drivers coming through the field, no slower drivers leading a queue near the front). There were a few overtakes and they were made after a few laps of battle, all in all that’s all you can ask for of a track. Don’t make it too easy. Don’t make it impossible. The rest is up to circumstance and in this case the circumstances weren’t there to make it an exciting race.

    Australian Autosport Community

  46. Completely agreed on this one Joe.

    The rumours surrounding the French Grand Prix’s return at the Paul Ricard Circuit would be fantastic, and with this they could terminate the Valencia contract and reinstate one of the pioneers of the sport back into the mould.
    I wouldn’t mind seeing one or more of the Asian/Arab circuits drop off to accomodate Russia/America as well. And while were at it get rid of Hungary and reinstate either the A1 Ring or Imola.

    Hopefully we should see a far better race at the 2nd showing of the new Silverstone layout.

  47. Can`t disagree with you at all, Joe. The race was utterly boring, not even the pitstops contributed to challenging the pace of the race. More often than not I found myself looking at the number of laps remaining…. just to know how much I had to endure.
    Please, let’s all make ourselves heard and push for a change of circuit in the NEAR future.

  48. The most interesting bit of the whole race weekend was Vettel having a peek inside alonso’s ferrari and the lewis’s mclaren after Saturday’s qualifying.

    Not sure what he was looking for though.

  49. Boring race but great issue. I loved both impressions of the Senna film. If anyone would like to see Ayrton at his happiest may I suggest logging on to youtube and simply tapping in “Ayrton Senna in Budapest 1993”. Thanks to Agnes Carlier I was able to interview my hero for Hungarian television. Ayrton, clearly much in love with his gorgeous girlfriend Adriane -who was sitting nearby- was in tremendous form. I’ve just got the footage otherwise I would have offered to the producers to whom I will always be grateful.Incidentally one year he turned up at Roland Garros for the French Open. Within seconds 14 thousand French tennis fans were on their feat cheering Senna, Senna.
    Such was and is the magic of this great Brazilian driver.

  50. For the race in Valencia, the teams should be forced to freshly paint the cars just before the race. Then we can at least watch that dry.

  51. It’s funny how quickly standards change.
    Last year a race like this would have been called “quite exciting” (frankly it was a lot better than previous Valencia races, and better than a lot of other races).
    Secondly I don’t get the equation “bad track = dull race”. We have seen extremely boring races in Spa as well (think of 2007 or 1999). Should we axe Spa as well?


  52. Shaun & joe,

    I am the one who suffered watching F1 on TF1 for several years & streaming saved my Sundays, god save Internet & pirates. So I will give you an insight on their performance.

    The only guy doing a decent job is the main pundit Christophe Malbranque. Jaques laffite is absolutely rubbish, the worst pundit who has ever existed. I prayed for TF1 to get rid of him. Instead they hired Laffite daughter in the satellite channel Eurosport France.
    Jean-Louis Moncet is Joe’s friend. To avoid moderation I keep my thoughts to myself.
    The equivalent of Jake Humpfrey is a guy who presents as well the French version of “Survivor” reality show. They have a cute girl as well to trick reluctant drivers into giving interviews. If you wonder, Brundle blatant tactics are much more efficient. Their former cute girl was Karen Minnier current Coulthard fiancée or wife.

    Last but not least, they have ad cuts so long you struggle to remember what happened before. I wonder with this year’s action, how can they explain what happened during the cut.

    To sum it up, once you arrive in France, make sure you have a decent internet connection & look for a BBC Stream.

    BTW, rumors in France suggest TF1 is dropping F1. Did Moncet confirm that to you Joe.

    1. Jo Torrent,

      You have such fervent view and you sometimes express them in a less than polite manner. I have heard quite the opposite from my French friends away from F1 who think that Malbranque is not good at all. Opinions vary on Laffite and Moncet (both of whom are my friends) so I am not in a position to judge. You also missed a trick here: current Cute Girl is Romain Grosjean’s girlfriend. TF1 is certainly considering cutting the F1 if the price does not drop.

  53. noshpit,

    Ron Walker is very good mate of Bernie. The circuits contracts are with Bernie who has no saying on the technical rules or little to say. So Bernie is putting the pressure through circuit owners to have the engine reeving much higher than the 12000 rpm the FIA wanted to impose.

    Why does Bernie wants higher revs, mainly because higher revs giver higher pitched sound which is specific to F1. Don’t forget noise is what strikes people the most when attending a race. The other point is maybe the technological edge as 12000 rpms for a racing engine is below average which doesn’t make F1 look edgy technologically. When revs were unlimited, much talk was about which engine reeved the highest.
    From the FIA point of view, the target is greener technology & much more link to road cars. Thus, lower revs make sense.

    This is how I see things (I know I don’t have any sources Joe, only speculating !)

  54. I actually disagree. I think the race was entertaining owing to more overtakes compared to previous years at Valencia. We are just more spoiled thanks to the new regulations.

  55. Joe,

    Like I said I don’t completely disagree, but yes looking at the last few races, Canada was wet/dry/wet/dry. Monaco had crashes, safety cars and drivers going for different strategies without any real passing. Perhaps there red flag spoiled the chance at that but it’s just as likely the top three would have driven around in formation the last several laps.

    Now if you could make it rain in the summer or make the drivers crash into the walls or make the tyres fall apart then Valencia could be a success. Unfortunately when the fast cars qualify at the front and the slow cars qualify at the back and the race plays out like a computer simulation you end up with a race like Valencia 2011, Bahrain 2010 or even Belgium 07.

    Australian Autosport community.

  56. Jon,

    Good point! I think that rule must be seriously thought of – giving the title dominator the trophy in advance and then asking him exit the stage! It seems the “new” aerodynamic rules from 2013 won’t make things any better, but could turbo engines make a difference?

    I’ve watched CART street races before. But they were more exciting to watch, even when no overtaking moves were made – the simple reason being that the wide-track Lola and Reynards on a bumpy track were just awesome. They kept moving up and down on the bumpy roads and just watching individuals cars race for fun. But the drivers/cars in F1 can’t stand even slight bumpiness on the circuit. The result is sedate video game type races.

    Speaking about the too much predictability that is there in F1 races, I’ve written a pretty vocal letter to the FOTA about this. I may be right or wrong in some points, but I’d just like you to read it:

    “Why is it that from time-to-time Formula 1 has the tendency to deliver predictable results? This is indeed a troubling phenomenon. Since I began watching F1 in 2000, I found Schumacher dominating every single race particularly in 2001, 2002 and 2004 (2000 and 2003 managed to inject some sort of unpredictability into the season, thanks to McLaren, Williams and later Renault providing stiff competition). Then in 2005 and 2006 we had Alonso and Renault dominating but not the boring and predictable kind. Those were tough title wins but there still were some races where no one seemed to have an answer to the pace and reliability of the Renault R25 and R26 in the hands of Alonso. Then in 2009 we had Jenson Button and Brawn plunging the sport into predictability in the first half of the season. And now we have Vettel and Red Bull dominating.

    Many of you may not consider it a serious problem, but for genuine fans this is a major hurdle to excitement. It also prevents new people from getting hooked to the sport. Let’s face the fact – if I know who the winner is gonna be why should I care to watch? We could guarantee that Vettel would win every qualifying session and race and that’s happened pretty much! Is Formula One the showcase of top teams and drivers racing against each other or one top team and driver racing against mediocre others? Why is it that one designer and driver can make so much of a difference? Are the other teams not employing the best out there? Why can’t they through constant updates close to gap quickly in order to be able to reverse the status quo?

    We need to think hard about ridding Formula 1 of this severe genetic disease it has acquired – the Predictability Syndrome. If this continues (and has continued for long) F1 will (and already has) drastically lose its sportive and entertainment value among fans, and prevent new people from getting hooked to it particularly in places like India where the common man has many other stuff to get hooked to such as IPL Cricket and Bollywood.

    Look at MotoGP – Rossi has amassed a great number of wins and titles but very few races of these seasons were without massive competition from the likes of Max Biaggi, Sete Gibernau, Casey Stoner and Jorge Lorenzo. NASCAR has had Jimmie Johnson win every title in recent years but they were all hard fought ones with the races always being unpredictable and thrilling. Before James Courtney’s title in 2010, V8 Supercars witnessed domination from Jamie Whincup but again the races weren’t predictable by any stretch of the imagination. Why is Formula 1, calling itself the pinnacle over all these forms of motorsport, been so boring with only a few exciting seasons sandwiched in between (2003, 2006-second half, 2007, 2008, 2009-second half)? If F1 the pinnacle of only technology but not the pinnacle of action and entertainment too? Is a severe genetic transplant needed to rid the sport of its Predictability Syndrome? What’s the point of priding in our technology when it can’t produce that key factor required of every racing competition – not knowing or being able to predict who will win?”

    Joe, what a contrast the MotoGP race at Assen was, and the Nurburgring 24 Hours as well!

  57. With historic tracks such as Assen and Zandvoort, Holland should certainly be on the calendar. But I guess these tracks are doing well without shedding their money for an F1 race.

  58. Joe,

    Indeed, I didn’t know Marion Jolles is with Grosjean. TF1 has become a marriage agency for racing drivers. It’s high time they leave F1 !
    They were renowned for hiring cute young female journalists with very little experience in their other satellite news channel LCI. Now they’re expanding the trend to the main channel.

    I’m surprised you criticized me for less than polite comments given what you wrote on

    The difference is that I liked what you wrote about them.

    1. Jo Torrent,

      Politeness is about the words you use, not the sentiments expressed. Anyone can call someone “a stupid idiot’, but it takes a little more skill to do it politely.

  59. I think that anyone who thinks they are a “mate” of Bernie’s is living in a very delusional world. As indeed are the people that think someone is Bernie’s mate!
    Bernie has no mate’s, just people that are handy to have around when they fit the part required by him.

  60. I do find it very interesting that it seems that in Valencia the gaps between the cars seem far greater than on other courses.

  61. I do find it very interesting that it seems that in Valencia the gaps between the cars seem far greater than on other courses. I can’t find a reason for that. After all, we did see overtaking is possible if there is a battle.

  62. The term used to describe Jean-Marie Balestre in the most recent edition of GP+ certainly surprised me! Glowing appraisals of the man appear to be rare, but the publication normally comprises more scintillating descriptions.

    1. Richard,

      David Tremayne’s words not mine and we assume that all GP+ subscribers are over the age of consent… We could have said Nazi, but we were being polite. Great pic though!

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