For most of last century, the European Grand Prix was nothing but an honorific title bestowed occasionally on national Grand Prix races, starting with the Italian Grand Prix at Monza in 1923 and ending with the British Grand Prix at Silverstone in 1977.
It was not until 1983 that it became a race of its own, with the first true European Grand Prix run under that name alone, at Brands Hatch in England.
The race was run intermittently until 1998, in five different countries, usually as a way to permit one country to hold two Grands Prix in the same season. Since 1999, however, the European Grand Prix has been a regular race on the Formula One calendar, running in Valencia, Spain, since 2008.
The Valencia track is in the Juan Carlos I Marina, which was used as the home of the America's Cup yacht race in 2007. It is the third street circuit in a row on the calendar, after Monaco and Canada.
''Valencia is a street circuit, but not a typical one, because the surface is very smooth, and the curbs are not very high,'' said Giampaolo Dall'Ara, head of track engineering at the Sauber team.
''In addition, the aerodynamic efficiency is significantly more important than, for example, in Monaco or Singapore, and there are proper run-off areas,'' he added.
''Most of the corners are slow, but you cannot ignore the level of top speed. As a result of this layout, braking stability and traction are very important. In Valencia, we have to expect high temperatures at this time of the year, so the tarmac can get very hot.''
Because of the weather, and the cultural life of the city, most of the drivers and teams enjoy Valencia and its seaside location.
''The city itself is an exciting, edgy blend of the classical and the ultra-contemporary, and, as such, a perfect locale for one of Formula One's newest races,'' said Martin Whitmarsh, the director of the McLaren Mercedes team.
Although it has never had a permanent home, the European Grand Prix nonetheless has a rich history of exceptional races.
In 1993, a season when the Williams cars dominated and Alain Prost won his fourth world title driving for that team, his rival Ayrton Senna drove one of his greatest races and one of the most memorable in the history of the sport at the European Grand Prix in Donington, England.
In his under-powered and under-performing McLaren, the Brazilian took advantage of a heavy rainfall at the start of the race to pass four cars by the end of the first lap. While Prost made seven pit stops to change tires in search of an advantage on the slippery track, Senna had no need such trouble, setting the fastest lap en route to his victory.
In 1997, when the race took place in Jerez, Spain, it was the scene not only of the crowning of Jacques Villeneuve as world champion for Williams, but the lowest moment in the career of Michael Schumacher, who tried and failed to run Villeneuve off the track in order to win the title himself.
Schumacher was later excluded from the championship, with all of his points for that season wiped off the score sheet for his foul play, but he was able to keep his victories in the record books.
In 1999, the race moved back to the Nürburgring, the track where it would stay until going to Valencia, and it was run in the rain, which led to several changes of leader and the single victory for the Stewart Grand Prix team, with Johnny Herbert driving.
It was a popular victory, and brought Jackie Stewart and his son Paul their team's only victory in three seasons in the series. The team was then sold to Ford and renamed Jaguar the next year. Felipe Massa won the inaugural race at Valencia in 2008, and Sebastian Vettel has won it in the last two years in his Red Bull, taking the drivers' title each year as well.
''In Valencia, we drive an average of more than 200 kilometers an hour, which means it's one of the fastest street circuits in Formula 1,'' Vettel said.
''Overtaking is possible, but only with some risk,'' he added. ''The reason is that the air turbulence created by cars driving closely behind each other doesn't disappear as it normally would due to the high walls around the track; you lose grip and, in some extreme cases, you have to lift the throttle.''