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F1: 2011 European GP Preview

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Round eight of the 2011 FIA Formula One World Championship visits Spain for the second time this season, as the Valencia Street Circuit hosts its fourth edition of this event.


Skirting the harbour area of downtown Valencia, the circuit and its surrounding infrastructure were designed to make new use of facilities built for the 2007 America’s Cup and after the Monaco and Canadian Grands Prix, this is the third consecutive street track on the 2011 calendar. In set-up terms, Valencia is more conventional than the extremes of maximum and minimum downforce required by Monaco and the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.

As in previous years, the Valencia Street Circuit is expected to be demanding on machinery, thanks to the narrow confines inherent to any street track.Three different drivers have won the first three grands prix here: Felipe Massa (Ferrari); Rubens Barrichello (Brawn GP) and Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull Racing). All will be seeking to become the first Valencia ‘double’ winners, while Vettel’s team-mate, Mark Webber, will be seeking to put memories of his enormous accident here last year – from which he emerged unscathed – firmly behind him.

 

FROM CHARLIE WHITING, RACE DIRECTOR

“We have two DRS zones here this year which, in combination with new tyre compounds from Pirelli, should almost certainly make things more interesting.

“This is a very well-run race, with all the infrastructure and circuit staff brought down from the permanent circuit, so there’s a lot of experience and knowledge.

“After a few years here it’s starting to look a little more lived-in now and more like a race track, which is good. And it’s unique, as the bridge across the harbour opens every night, so the circuit becomes incomplete until it’s closed again.”

Grand Prix of Europe

Fast Facts

► Pirelli’s tyre selection for this weekend comprises medium and soft compounds.This will be the first time the medium compound has been used, while the soft replaces the supersoft

► The European Grand Prix was first part of the FIA Formula One World Championship in 1983, when the race was held at Brands Hatch, England. It was held there once again in 1985 and it has also been staged at Donington, England (1993) and Jerez, Spain (1994 and 1997). The most popular venue for the European GP is Germany’s Nürburgring circuit, which has hosted the race 12 times: 1984, 1995-6, then 1999-2007

► Notable European Grands Prix include: 1985 (Brands Hatch, England), Nigel Mansell’s first F1 win; 1993 (Donington Park, England), Ayrton Senna’s domination in torrential rain; 1996 (Nürburgring, Germany), Jacques Villeneuve’s first F1 win; 1997 (Jerez, Spain), Mika Hakkinen’s first F1 win and the controversial conclusion to that year’s drivers’ world championship – won by Jacques Villeneuve after a lap-48 collision with Michael Schumacher; 1999 (Nürburgring, Germany), the sole F1 victory for Stewart Grand Prix, with Johnny Herbert driving; 2007 (Nürburgring, Germany), Grand Prix debutant Markus Winkelhock, driving a Spyker, led the race in heavy rain before a re-start.

► Valencia Street Circuit is one of two F1 facilities associated with the city. The Circuit Ricardo Tormo is a permanent track used regularly during the off-season for Formula One testing, as well as being a host venue for the MotoGP championship.

► Jenson Button’s win at the Canadian GP two weeks ago was his tenth, in his 196th F1 start. His 2009 world drivers’ title came after 10 seasons and 171 races. Only 1992 champion Nigel Mansell took longer to claim a title: 180 grands prix.

► Valencia is Spain’s self-styled ‘Paella Capital’. Authentic paella originated around 200 years ago near lake Albufera, a freshwater lagoon south of Valencia where conditions were ideally suited to rice farming.

► The grass parkland that runs through the centre of Valencia, the Turia Gardens, is the bed of the former River Turia. Following a devastating flood in 1957, which damaged large areas of the city, the river was split to the west of Valencia and its main course diverted south through a man-made canal to the Mediterranean.

► Less than two kilometres from the Valencia Street Circuit is Santiago Calatrava and Felix Candela’s City of Arts and Sciences – the Ciudad de las Artes y Las Ciencias.