Guest Author - Christine Blachford
The European Grand Prix has been anticipated for a few months now, due to it's location at the brand new Valencia street circuit. McLaren launched their car last year in the area and it was a spectacular sight to behold, and that kick-started the excitement over this new track.
The early free practice sessions seemed to live up to the hype. Although the track was quite grey and industrial compared to the picturesque locations we are used to, the unknown quantity was providing quite a lot of entertainment. Plenty of drivers were making maximum use of the run-off areas, and the end of day timesheets were very mixed up. In particular, the Toro Rosso team seemed to have an early head start on everyone else, with Vettel doing particularly well.
In the end, qualifying turned out to be the same as usual, with Massa grabbing pole position and Hamilton lining up behind him. Again, the Toro Rosso boys showed particularly well, with both getting through to the last session of qualifying - their best ever grid positions. Also doing well was Trulli in the Toyota, who had limited running in practice due to gearbox issues, and had to use his team mate car setup, but still managed to qualify in the top 10.
The race itself wasn't as exciting as others we have seen this year. There was very little overtaking, and not much to talk about in terms of strategy either. Some teams were particularly paranoid about the appearance of a safety car, but it never occurred. There were only a few incidents to speak of.
On the first lap, Nakajima crashed into the back of local favourite Alonso. They both pitted, but the Williams was able to continue, whilst Alonso retired. The fans weren't impressed. About halfway through the race, Massa was released into the path of Sutil, and the team received a reprimand and a fine after the race for doing so. Then Raikkonen had a disastrous pit stop when he pulled away too early, knocking over his refuelling mechanic. The man escaped with a broken foot, but was stretchered off to the medical centre. Moments later, Raikkonen's engine blew up, and his race was over anyway.
Although they got the win with Massa, and beat Hamilton to the top step of the podium, it wasn't a good race for Ferrari in terms of organisation and appearance.