Guest Author - Christine Blachford
The Valencian street circuit was announced with a couple of beautiful press shots, and we all remembered the spectacular show when McLaren launched their 2007 challenger there.
Unfortunately, having rushed to put the track together in about nine months, the circuit itself didn't exactly live up to expectations.
Obviously the organisers know what they're doing, having put on a strong first event with no serious trouble. There were a couple of security worries, some track invaders the main threat, but everything was handled smoothly. The race itself, whilst not particularly good in terms of overtaking, provided it's own interest. The pit lane was the source of most of the excitement, which, whilst not ideal, at least added to the race weekend.
The track is quite unique in terms of the 2008 calendar. It's too early to say whether the racing there is dull, it was this year, but who's to say next year will be the same? There are over 20 corners, which means the drivers took a while to learn the track, but once they know what they're doing, maybe there will be even more competitive racing.
Sadly for this race weeked, the cons strongly outweigh the pros. The track was dull to look at, mostly a lot of catch-fencing, concrete, and tarmac run off areas. The racing wasn't very good, with a wide field spread meaning overtaking was almost impossible. Whether this is the fault of the track is impossible to say.
As mentioned above, the pit lane was the source of most of the excitement, but that really is because it is too narrow. We had a driver penalised for almost missing the entrance, and another for racing side by side with a rival team. The pit lane was so narrow that both of these usually acceptable things became an issue.
Although I have weighed up the good and bad points of the track here, it is still too early to come up with a definitive review of the circuit. Next year they will have had time to put the finishing touches on everything, and that will be the real test.