F1: European GP – To Keep Or Drop The Valencia Circuit
The European GP in Valencia has been handcuffed lately with the label of “BORING”. After Sunday’s race however, that may no longer be the case. With Spain’s economic situation being as bleak as it is, it is understood that the Spanish GP will alternate between Valencia and Barcelona in the years to come. In part because both circuits are under contract with FOM to host a GP and most probably because the legal costs to abolish that contract might outweigh the costs and benefits of keeping it.
What has changed in Valencia since being dubbed the perennial snoozer? Why was the 2012 European GP one of the most exciting, if not arguably, THE most exciting race of the season? Circuit layout changes? Not that I’m aware of. Weather conditions? Hot and Sunny are not really inclement weather conditions now, are they? Sporting or technical regulations? Quite possibly one reason might be the technical regulations and car configurations. Pirelli tyres? Well now, where have we heard that before?
The slightest change in track conditions have proven to change the behavior of each car’s handling characteristics. Each car seems to react differently to each compound depending on a number of different scenarios, including but not limited to, track temperature, tyre temperature, cloud cover, wind speed and direction, fuel load and tarmac conditions.
Pirelli seem to have successfully provided the tyre that the FIA had requested them to provide. They have in turn offered the correct compound combination that has produced the most exciting races season. Married to changes in aerodynamic restrictions and aids such as DRS and KERS, Formula One has turned one of the dullest circuits on the calendar into perhaps one of the most exciting.
Some “purists” are slamming this season which has produced a sort of “lottery” podium scenario from race to race. Some have criticized Pirelli for not providing a tyre that drivers can push to the limit with, most notably Michael Schumacher. I wonder however, if his point of view has changed much since snagging his podium on Sunday.
The unpredictability of this season has drawn many back to the sport that were turned off by its apparent predictability in the last few seasons. Many are wishing it continues while others are hoping for some stability. In all this uncertainty, the question of Valencia is raised. Should F1 keep this circuit and the contributing factors that have made it a success, or drop it in the future if financial circumstances force FOM’s hand?
Author: Ernie Black