Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Distinctly Underwhelming

This post might strike many of you as a little odd coming from me, but stick with it. This weekend sees the European grand prix from Valencia. Up until a few years ago, the European grand prix traditionally moved to different circuits - with the Nurburgring in 2007 being one of my favourite races. However, this particular race has now apparently settled on the street circuit of Valencia.

When you think of street circuits, the most prominent in the mind is Monaco. While there is arguably not much overtaking at Monaco (or indeed any street circuit) owing to the narrow race track, Monaco is nonetheless a spectacle to watch. The speed of the cars in such a circuit is inherently exciting, and with Monaco you get much more of a sense of the atmosphere of the race even if you're not in attendance yourself. However, Valencia is a circuit which often leaves me disappointed, and as such I'm not especially excited about the prospect of a race this weekend.

Perhaps the biggest problem I have with Valencia is that nothing really ever happens there. The cars go round for qualifying, then I feel like we watch a warm-up lap for the entire race duration. Ok, now and again you see incidents - with Mark Webber's take off after hitting Heikki Kovalainen's then-Lotus being one of the most dramatic I've seen - however I don't feel that we should be watching races for the crashes, and we should get a chance to see racing. This simply doesn't happen at Valencia in my mind. There is a balance with street circuits as to the thrill of watching cars on the edge and getting enough chance to overtake and race. In all honesty, Valencia fails to hit either of these marks in my opinion.

Maybe I'm being overly harsh, however there are simply some races that don't excite me. What annoys me also with Valencia is the fact that the race is the European grand prix, yet it stays at the same circuit. I feel that the old way of moving the race every year was a much better way to host a European race. Instead, we're left with two Spanish grand prix every year. While I have nothing against this, I'd like to see the race at Valencia have some sort of appeal to the fans, and if this is not possible then perhaps Bernie Ecclestone should consider changing the circuit for the European race. A while ago, there were rumours that the return of the French grand prix would mean that the Belgian grand prix would have to alternate. Considering that Spa is one of the legends of the season, would not a more appealing solution be to remove Valencia from the calendar and keep the French and Belgian grand prix every year? That way we have one race in each of the countries, and we maintain the most enthralling circuits.

I understand that any sport is not necessarily enthralling all of the time. However, the consistency of Valencia's processional approach would signal to me that its place in F1 should be reconsidered. Of course, being a die-hard fan I will still watch the race this weekend - and who knows, maybe the magic of the 2012 season will spice the race up a little - however if this race retains its usual theme then I honestly think that something should change. The current trend in F1 to discuss money saving options might do well to look at how appealing fans find the races, and perhaps a neat cost cutting measure would be to do away with Valencia. I honestly hope that this weekend my opinions will change about this race. Street circuits should be something to look forward to - not something that is openly criticised. However, unless we get proper racing and overtaking this weekend, I'm afraid that Valencia will remain my least favourite race of the year.