A lap of Valencia with Hondas Mike Conway 19 Aug 2008
With Rubens Barrichello, Jenson Button and Alex Wurz on their books, Honda have one of the most experienced driver line-ups in the paddock. However, when it comes to the new street circuit of Valencia, venue for this weekends European Grand Prix, all three have to defer to the Japanese teams young tester Mike Conway.
GP2 star Conway is one of the lucky few to have sampled the Spanish circuit ahead of its debut on the Formula One calendar. The 24-year-old Briton describes a flying lap
Mike Conway: "I raced at Valencia the weekend before the Hungarian Grand Prix in a GT sportscar. It's a challenging track, although the high concrete walls give it a very different feel to somewhere like Monaco.
The first corner is a curved right-hander, which will be taken flat-out in an F1 car, and then it's hard on the brakes for Turn Two, a second-gear right-hander. Turn Three is a fourth-gear kink, as are Turns Five and Six, and the cars will probably be in seventh gear before they brake for Turn Eight, which is the start of the bridge section.
"There's a small bump as you go on and off the Astilleros Bridge, which could unsettle the cars in the wet, and then there's a 90-degree right before the track drops away and you head down a long, curved straight. Slower cars could be a problem here in qualifying, so you need to keep your eyes on the marshals as you accelerate through the gears.
"You brake really hard for Turn 12 and it is here that it feels most like a street circuit because there are traffic lights hanging across the track and you can see buildings. A double-left comes next and you're almost immediately into Turn 14, a fourth gear 90-degree right. Then you're onto another long straight, at the end of which there's a hairpin that's not dissimilar to the Adelaide Hairpin at Magny-Cours. This will be a good overtaking opportunity.
"You're now into the latter stages of the lap, which is characterised by some fast, sweeping corners. They take you all the way to the final corner, which is a fairly tight left-hander. The exit will be important because you're then heading onto the start/finish straight to start another lap."