I love Formula 1. The first F1 footage I saw live was the fatal 1994 San Marino Grand Prix at Imola in Italy. Since 1996 I follow F1 regularly – I was an early Jacques Villeneuve from Canada fan (mainly because he was handsome and I loved his French Canadian accent) – and I try to watch races live. The COVID-19 pandemic and the 2020 and 2021 seasons even gave my fandom a push. I have a subscription on the F1 app and channel so I can follow the sport even better.
I only attended one GP weekend, the qualifying session of the 1999 Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps. I will never forget that experience. Partly beca use I saw Villeneuve and his BAR-Supertec team mate Riccardo Zonta (Brazil) crash at Eau Rouge, but also because on the way to the circuit my father and I had a very awkward chat about my then recent coming-out.
When I get the chance, I love visiting a racing circuit. Over the years I’ve been able to walk on the tarmac of several grand prix circuits: Albert Park in Melbourne, Yas Marina in Abu Dhabi, the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium, the Circuit de Monaco at Monte-Carlo, the Marina Bay Street Circuit in Singapore, and thus also the Circuit Urbà de València (Circuito Urbano de Valencia).
Valencia Street Circuit
The Valencia Street Circuit hosted the European Grand Prix for five years, from 2008 to 2012. Felipe Massa (Brazil, Ferrari, 2008), Rubens Barrichello (Brazil, Brawn-Mercedes, 2009), Sebastian Vettel (Germany, Red Bull-Renault, 2010 and 2011) and Fernando Alonso (Spain, Ferrari, 2012) were the race winners.
he circuit used the roads skirting the city’s harbour and America’s Cup port area, including a section over a 140-metre-long (460 ft) swing bridge and also included some roads designed exclusively for racing purposes by the German architect Hermann Tilke, who also designed the infrastructure buildings for the circuit.
The track was 5.419 kilometres (3.367 mi) long and incorporated a total of 25 turns. 11 left-handers and 14 right-handers.
It was estimated that the track had a top speed of around 323 kilometres per hour (201 mph), with a lap record of 1:38.683, set by Timo Glock (Germany) in a Toyota during the 2009 European Grand Prix.
Valencia was not as tight as Circuit de Monaco but overtaking opportunities were still scarce, due to the straights not being straight and the dust away from the racing line.
The circuit layout was not popular. The 2012 race was very exciting though, but it remained the last race at the circuit.
The circuit now
Nowadays, the circuit is in decay, as is obvious from these YouTube videos. But it’s still visible.
The Valencia Street Circuit was an oddity, but certainly not the only one.
I hope to visit some more circuits in the future. Zandvoort in the Netherlands, Monza near Milan, a return to Spa and the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal are an my wish list. As is Zolder in Limburg. And Assen. Unfortunately, there’s nothing left of Nivelles-Baulers in Walloon Brabant.