European GP – Wolf’s Valencia Diary – Sunday

Felipa Massa wins 2008 European GP

Felipa Massa wins 2008 European GP

It was nice hot and sunny Sunday here in Valencia. The F1 race unfortunately turned out to be a procession, at least at the front. If not for Ferrari mess ups there would hardly be any excitement. Felipe Massa pulled away after the start of the race and Lewis Hamilton (to the delight of local fans here) was no match for him. Massa had a bit of a scare after his second pit stops, but he managed to keep clear from Sutil and went on to win the race. Hamilton settled for second. Kubica’s 3rd place was never threatened by the other Ferrari and McLaren.

Kimi Raikkonen provided the excitement today. First he ran away with the refueling hose still attached to his car and ran over one of his crew members after his second pit stop. Then a while later his engine let go and the smoke covered the start finish line.

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European GP – Wolf’s Valencia Diary – Saturday

Felipe Massa

Felipe Massa

It was great day at the track with awesome free practice, great F1 qualifying and exciting GP2 race. Unfortunately the Holiday Inn hotel I am staying at forgot that this is 21st century and so, no internet connection. (Unless I consider getting one page open after an hour of trying as a working internet …)

Perhaps tomorrow it will work better and I will be able to post some of the pictures…

The home fans were left disapointed after Fernando Alonso failed to make it to Q3 but they (and me with them) still cheered Massa when he claimed the pole (as I predicted :-) ). Not sure if it had anything to do with the fact that Massa pole meant Hamilton’s relegation to P2. Alonso however did not sound too disapointed on the radio – he expects some Safety Car action tomorrow and then anything can happen …

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European GP – Wolf’s Valencia Diary – Friday

Kimi Raikkonen - Valencia

Kimi Raikkonen - Valencia

I have been on the road for few days but now I am settled down in Valencia and what is even better – online !

It is a beautiful set up over here. Nice (but hot) weather, the beach right next to the track, lots of bars and restaurants 2 minutes from the track entrance, vino, cerveza, tapas, perfect. And if what was happening today is to be any indication of what to expect this weekend, we may also have an exciting race.

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2008 European Formula 1 GP – Wolf’s Race Preview

This race preview will be different than usual. One reason is, 2008 European GP will be held on brand new track in Valencia. The second reason is, I am on sort of working holiday at the moment.

This Valencia track has no F1 history, but that is not the case of European GP. You can the check the European GP minihistory series of posts on this blog to refresh the memories of modern time European GP F1 races.

Track technical info (ING Renault data):

Situated in the marina area of Valencia, this brand new street course promises to be one of the most exciting additions to the Formula 1 calendar in recent years. Hemmed in by concrete walls (hm, I smell safety car here :-) ), the 25-turn circuit combines a mix of high and low-speed sections and is wide enough in places to offer genuine overtaking opportunities. Good straight-line speed and stability under braking are therefore paramount, as is good mechanical grip through the mix of low and medium-speed corners.

Aerodynamics

The track layout means that the teams will run with relatively low levels of downforce, similar to those used in Montreal for the Canadian Grand Prix. This is possible as there are no high-speed corners and good straight-line speed is important down the long back straight. However, it won’t be until free practice begins on Friday that the teams will be able to finalise aero levels, which can depend on the grip offered by the tarmac.

Brakes

The circuit is expected to be particularly demanding on the brakes and on a par with somewhere like Bahrain. There are frequent large stops from over 300kph, such as turns 12 and 17, leading into tight second gear corners which will put high energy through the braking systems. Brake cooling will also need special attention with teams likely to use reasonably large cooling ducts.

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European Grand Prix – Mini history – Part 7

2006 European GP

2006 European GP

This is the final part 7 of the European Grand Prix mini history series – years 2006 – 2007.

The 2006 season was all about the title fight between Fernando Alonso and Michael Schumacher and the European GP was not too different. This was by no means a classic and in line with the usual practice the race win was decided in the pitlane. Fernando Alonso claimed the pole position ahead of Ferrari duo Michael Schumacher and Felipe Massa. Alonso had better start and kept the lead. Behind them a little Liuzzi (Toro Rosso), Ralf (Toyota) and Coulthard (Red Bull) get together resulted in Safety Car. After the restart Alonso and Schumacher pulled away and from then on it was all between these two. Kimi Raikkonen (McLaren) lead the race too for a while during the pit stop times but that was about it. After the first round of pit stops Alonso still had the lead. Then Alonso made his second stop on lap 38, Schumacher stayed out until lap 41. Those few flat out laps made all the difference and Schumacher rejoined the race in the lead. He went on to win what was to be his last F1 race at Nurburgring. Alonso finished second, Massa third, Raikkonen 4th.

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European Grand Prix – Mini history – Part 6

Alonso and Sato, 2004 European GP

Alonso and Sato, 2004 European GP

This is part 6 of the European Grand Prix mini history series – years 2004 – 2005.

Season 2004 saw some changes in the order. Williams begun their decline, McLaren suffered from reliability issues (especially in the early stages of the season). Their places were taken by BAR Honda and Renault. And Ferraris were running away with the championship from the very beginning. European GP was the race number 7 of the season. Michael Schumacher won the first 5 and was ready to get back to winning ways after crashing out of Monaco race. Schumacher claimed the pole position after running light in qualifying, quick Takuma Sato lined up next to him in P2. Jarno Trulli (Renault, the winner in Monaco) and Kimi Raikkonen (McLaren) occupied the second row. At the start Schumacher pulled away with the help of Kimi Raikkonen who jumped ahead of Sato (BAR Honda) and Trulli and held them back. Also at the start, Williams team mates Montoya and Ralf Schumacher touched their wheels and Ralf was out.

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European Grand Prix – Mini history – Part 5

2003 Euripean GP Podium

2003 European GP Podium

This is part 5 of the European Grand Prix mini history series – years 2001 – 2003.

The 2001 European GP is best remembered for Schumi vs Schumi at the race start. The big brother Michael grabbed the pole from his little brother Ralf , Juan Pablo Montoya was on P3. At the race start Michael felt aseep a tiny bit and to defend his lead Michael Schumacher pushed his brother way too close to the wall. Ralf had only 2 options – either to hit the wall or lift his foot off the throttle. He chose the throttle action and as a result Michael Schumacher kept his lead, Ralf stayed in second.  Ferrari’s Bridgestones worked better early on and Michael pulled away. Soon however the advantage turned to Michelins. Ralf was pushing his brother hard and Montoya was closing on both of them.

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European Grand Prix – Mini history – Part 4

Ralf Schumacher European GP 1999

Ralf Schumacher European GP 1999

This is part 4 of the European Grand Prix mini history series – years 1999 and 2000.

After one year break European GP returned to calendar in 1999. It was back to Nurburgring and the European GP would stay at this circuit for nine years, till 2007, more as a second German GP thanks to increased interest in F1 in Germany during Schumacher’s era. In 1999 the European GP was the last European race of the calendar. With three races to go Mika Hakkinen (McLaren), Eddie Irvine (Ferrari), Heinz-Harald Frentzen (Jordan) and David Coulthard (McLaren) still had a shot at the title. Michael Schumacher was missing, nursing his broken leg.

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European Grand Prix – Mini history – Part 3

Schumacher Villeneuve Jerez 1997

This is part 3 of the European Grand Prix mini history series – years 1996 and 1997.

In 1996 European Grand Prix returned to Nurburgring for the second year in a row. Yet again it turned out to be a significant race – the future champion won his first race here.

Williams were the team to beat those days and so it came as no suprise that Damon Hill and the new arrival from American racing Jacques Villeneuve booked themselves the front row on the grid. Behind them lined up Schumacher (Ferrari), Alesi (Benetton), Barrichello (Jordan) and Coulthard (McLaren). Confident Hill however made mess of his start and Villeneuve took the lead. Coulthard came out of nowhere in struggling McLaren and found himself 2nd challenging for the lead. Barrichello moved up to third ahead of Schumacher, Hill and Hakkinen.

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European Grand Prix – Mini history – Part 2

European GP 1995

After eight years break the European GP returned to Formula 1 calendar in 1993 for so far the one only F1 race at Donnington Park, the planned post 2009 British GP venue. And again same as back in 1983 the European GP happened because plans for another race, the Asian GP in Japan, failed. There were several memorable European GP races in the past and the 1993 Donnington race is one of them, remembered as perhaps the greatest Ayrton Senna’s victory. The race started in wet rainy conditions. After start Prost held on to his P1 ahead of Hill while Senna dropped one back behind to fifth behind Wendlinger and Schumacher. However by the end of lap one Senna was leading the race (video). He won this wet-dry-wet-dry race over a minute ahead of Damon Hill who was the only driver on the same lap Senna (after unlapping himself).

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European Grand Prix – Mini history – Part 1

Nigel Mansell Ayrton Senna Brands Hatch 1985

Formula 1 and F1Wolf will head to Valencia in 2 weeks for the inaugural Formula 1 race on Valencia Street Circuit. This may be the first European GP in Valencia but the history of European Grand Prix goes much further back. In fact it goes all the way back to 1923, long before Formula 1 championship was formed. There were however no standalone races between 1923 and 1997. One race a year received the honorary European GP title and that was it. Italy, France, Germany, Spain, Belgium, Monaco, Netherelands, Austria, Switzerland and Great Britain all had the honours to run some of their Grands Prix as an European GP in those years. This mini series will however focus on the European GPs proper.

It all started almost by accident in 1983. When the New York Grand Prix was cancelled with only 3 months to go. Organizers from Brands Hatch were able to step in and host the race as European GP (British GP title was not available, that race was held at Silverstone that year). It was the penultimate race of the season with three drivers still in the hunt for championship – Prost, Piquet and Tambay. The race was won by Nelson Piquet (who then secured th title in South Africa) ahead of Alain Prost and Nigel Mansell.

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What F1 tracks will get eliminated from the calendar ?

The FIA published yesterday the provisional 2009 F1 calendar. The most important facts are that French GP is still on calendar, US GP will not return for 2009 and Abu Dhabi will make the debut.

The US GP missing again is a hot topic of the moment. But when looking at the 2009 calendar I am already wondering what other track(s) will we loose in 2010 …

The sudden appearance of Valencia and Singapore street tracks was kind of unexpected. None of these venues were talked about much prior to their inclusion in the 2008 calendar. The rumours appeared and in matter of weeks the races were confirmed. As a result, although we lost the US GP, the 2008 season features one more race than last year – 18 compared to 17 in 2007. With Abu Dhabi the 2009 season will have 19 races. That is 2 more than what is believed to be agreed on in the existing (expired) Concorde Agreement. Judging from recent opinions of some team principals it is hard to see more than 20 races on the F1 calendar – “My firm belief is the season should expand to not more than 20 Grand Prix.” (Ron Dennis), “Twenty is about the right number.” (Nick Fry), “Twenty is a big number, but it’s a sensible number.” (Christian Horner).

For 2010 season however 2 new races are lining up – India and Korea. That would require at least one existing F1 venue to loose the race. If US GP was to return, it would require 2 races to go. And that only and only if the F1 teams agree to race 20 times a year … What race(s) are we not going to see in 2010 ?

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