Valencia Street Circuit: A Modern Street Track with a Difference:
The Juan Carlos I Marina served as the site of the 32nd America’s Cup yacht race in 2007, and the Formula 1 race began taking place there in 2008. Neither the history nor the number of yachts next to the track compares to the venue it tried to imitate — Monaco — and neither does the track itself.
At 3.4 miles, it is longer than average, and it has the most corners of any Formula 1 circuit. Still, for a street circuit and even with its 25 corners — 11 left-handers and 14 right-handers — it is very fast, with speeds similar to a couple of the fastest circuits, Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium and Monza in Italy.
“It’s got quite a different feel to other street tracks, like Monte Carlo or Singapore,” said Jenson Button, a driver at the McLaren Mercedes team. “There are some low-speed corners with some fairly unforgiving walls at the apex, but there are also some high-speed changes of direction and some long straights, so it’s quite an interesting place setup-wise.”
It requires good braking stability and traction, and while it calls for more aerodynamic downforce than at the last race, in Canada, it also requires good aerodynamic efficiency because the speeds are high at four points of the lap, according to Robert Kubica, at the Renault team, who said he particularly liked the final corners of the lap.
“They are taken flat out, or with one small lift, but you really get into the flow from one corner to another and then, for the last corner, you have to brake while there is still a lot of lateral load on the car,” Kubica said. “It’s very tricky to find your braking point for that corner, which makes it even more challenging.”
The sea has its effects on the driving and cars, as well.
“The track provides little grip at the outset, the multitude of corners places some considerable stress on the tires and the coastal location can whip up some sea breezes, which can affect the balance of the car,” said Sam Michael, technical director of the Williams team. “As overtaking opportunities are also limited around Valencia, a good grid position is important.”