It’s time for the eighth race of the season and a return to Spain for the European GP at the Valencia street circuit. So far in 2012 there have been seven different winners at the first seven races with Lewis Hamilton joining the list last time out at Canada. There are still a few candidates to make it eight winners from eight races with Kimi Räikkönen, Romain Grosjean and Michael Schumacher amongst them. Valencia has not provided exciting races in the past and even with the unpredictable season 2012 has been so far there are not high hopes that this year will be any different.
European GP Stats
Circuit Name: Valencia Street Circuit
Number of Laps: 57
Circuit Length: 5.419km
Lap Record: 1:38.683 T Glock (2009)
2011 Results: 1. Sebastian Vettel 2. Fernando Alonso 3. Mark Webber
There are four previous winners of the European GP on the grid: Sebastian Vettel, Felipe Massa, Fernando Alonso and Michael Schumacher, although Vettel and Massa are the only two drivers to have won in Valencia.
Last Time Out
Lewis Hamilton became the eighth different winner after making a different tyre strategy to his main rivals work while they suffered. Hamilton chose to run a two stop strategy as Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel tried to make a one stop strategy work, but their tyres could not last the distance and so they dropped down the order. Hamilton was joined on the podium by Romain Grosjean and Sergio Perez – the second podium for both drivers this season. Jenson Button once again struggled and finished a disappointing 16th in the race with Michael Schumacher retiring before the race end due to his DRS flap malfunctioning. Both HRTs struggled with the harsh braking nature of the circuit and retired, as did Timo Glock. Felipe Massa picked up another point and he continues to look like he has turned a corner after his dismal start to the season. The results shook up the championship with Hamilton rising from fourth to the top – showing that in a season as mixed up as this, there is no one driver running away with the title. McLaren closed the gap to Red Bull while Lotus overtook Ferrari in the race for third.
Whether or not we will have an eighth different winner this season remains to be seen. The Valencia Street Circuit boasts 25 corners – the most of any race on the calendar – and is a difficult circuit to overtake on. Qualifying will once again have more importance for drivers, different to the likes of Canada where overtaking is easier. Every race this season has seen a different starting grid to qualifying due to a large number of penalties. There have been nine grid penalties so far in the space of seven races with a total of eleven for 2011. Lewis Hamilton looks on form after his Canadian GP win and McLaren believe they have sorted Jenson Button’s problems. Pirelli boss Paul Hembery has tipped Michael Schumacher for the win although this could prove detrimental to his progress as 2012 seems to be all about surprise. Lotus, Michael Schumacher, and Sauber could all be said to be in the frame for a race win , having not done so far this season, with Lewis Hamilton, Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel the apparent strongest candidates for the first to pick up a second win. Roll on the weekend!
Local Valencia Time
Free Practice 1 10:00 Friday
Free Practice 2 14:00 Friday
Free Practice 3 11:00 Saturday
Qualifying 14:00 Saturday
Race 14:00 Sunday
Coming up this weekend: full free practice, qualifying and race reviews, European GP in numbers, and The H Duct Lap League update!