The Valencia Street Circuit will host the eighth round of the 2012 Formula One World Championship. Valencia has been home to the European Grand Prix since 2008. Following rounds in Monaco and Montreal, it is the third race in a row to be held on a ‘street’ circuit.
This track features four long straights but also more corners than any other current F1 venue, ten of which are taken in low gears. It requires teams to strike a difficult balance between high straight-line speed on the four 300kph-plus sections, and excellent low-speed grip and traction. It’s a circuit that rewards a good all-round car: every year the winning team in Valencia has gone on to lift the Constructors’ Championship.
As is often the case for street circuits, qualifying position will be at a premium: three times from the four races here the man qualifying in pole position has gone on to win the race. Pitstops have a role to play also. Pirelli are bringing Medium and Soft compound tyres, the same combination that featured last year. Unlike in Canada, where a one-stop strategy provided two podium finishes, the slippery surface in Valencia and the high-load corners tend to induce much greater tyre wear. Last year the strategy used exclusively by the front-runners was three equal-length stints on the soft tyre followed by a switch to the medium rubber at the end of the race. However, alternative strategies were successful lower down the order: Sergio Pérez managed a one-stop race that elevated him from 16th on the grid to 11th at the chequered flag, while Jaime Alguersuari was catapulted from 18th to eighth with a two-stopper.
The 2012 season has rewritten records so far, with the first seven races of the year producing seven different winners from five different teams and two very competitive championship tables. It is being hailed in some quarters as the most unpredictable season in the history of the sport.