Saturday, August 23, 2008


European Grand Prix, Valencia
Valencia 22 to 24 August
Track: 5.44km 57 laps
Qualifying: 14.00 Sat
Race: 14.00 Sun

The 12th Grand Prix of the 2008 season will be held on the streets of Valencia this Sunday. Some of us who stood by the opera house one March evening last year, watching Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton hurtling across the Turia riverbed in their McLarens can hardly believe that the time has passed so quickly! At the time, the idea of a Formula 1 race through the streets of Valencia seemed almost surreal and yet here they are....

With one day of practise still to come, Ferrari seem to have got the measure of this new circuit and both Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa have posted some very quick times. Fernando Alonso, determined to give a good account of himself, is also going extremely well. Sadly, ‘Nando crossed the white line entering the pits and was fined an eye-watering 10,000€ [and we complain about the local traffic penalties!]

First impressions of the track? ‘Nando was very impressed, saying: ‘It is not a normal street circuit, it is a little bit more than a street circuit’. Robert Kubica, currently fourth in the Driver’s Championship said on the subject of overtaking: ‘I think here in Valencia we have some opportunities in two places or maybe three’. Flavio Briattore, Renault Team boss said: ‘We really need to congratulate the people of Valencia for the job they have done.... It is an amazing job, really. The ambience is fantastic.’

The McLarens of Lewis Hamilton and Heikki Kovaleinen have yet to get their settings fine-tuned but their times are still looking good. Hamilton will be looking to build on his lead in the Championship but Raikkonen and Massa will be equally determined to regain their positions at the top.

Qualifying starts at 14.00 today and the race proper will start at 14.00 tomorrow. There are mixed opinions as to the weather tomorrow. Some forecasts promise a mix of sunshine and cloud while others suggest light showers may be coming. Whatever the weather, Formula 1 is welcome in Valencia!

After 11 races, the scores look like this:

1 Lewis Hamilton (McLaren) 62
2 Kimi Räikkönen (Ferrari) 57
3 Felipe Massa (Ferrari) 54
4 Robert Kubica (Sauber BMW) 49
5 Nick Heidfeld (Sauber BMW) 41
6 Heikki Kovalainen (McLaren) 38
7 Jarno Trulli (Toyota) 22
8 Fernando Alonso (Renault) 18
9 Mark Webber (Red Bull) 18
10 Timo Glock (Toyota) 13
11 Nelsinho Piquet (Renault) 13

1 Ferrari 111
2 McLaren 100
3 BMW Sauber 90
4 Toyota 35
5 Renault 31

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