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Paddock Postcard from Valencia 26 Jun 2011

David Guetta performs at F1 Rocks™ in Valencia
Vitantonio Liuzzi (ITA) Hispania Racing F1 Team (HRT) goes jet skiing.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 8, European Grand Prix, Preparations, Valencia, Spain, Thursday, 23 June 2011 Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari at a Formula Santander Universities Scholarship Event.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 8, European Grand Prix, Preparations, Valencia, Spain, Thursday, 23 June 2011 Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren karting at the Vodafone Team Event.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 8, European Grand Prix, Preparations, Valencia, Spain, Thursday, 23 June 2011 Fans. 
Formula One World Championship, Rd 8, European Grand Prix, Practice Day, Valencia, Spain, Friday, 24 June 2011 David Guetta performs at F1 Rocks™ in Valencia
Heinz-Harald Frentzen (GER) FIA Steward.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 8, European Grand Prix, Race Day, Valencia, Spain, Sunday, 26 June 2011 Grid girls.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 8, European Grand Prix, Race Day, Valencia, Spain, Sunday, 26 June 2011 (L to R): Narain Karthikeyan (IND) Hispania Racing F1 Team (HRT) and Vitantonio Liuzzi (ITA) Hispania Racing F1 Team (HRT) at the famous La Pepica paella restaurant.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 8, European Grand Prix, Preparations, Valencia, Spain Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari with Placido Domingo (ESP).
Formula One World Championship, Rd 8, European Grand Prix, Race Day, Valencia, Spain, Sunday, 26 June 2011

This weekend’s European round may be the third street race in succession, but the industrial chic of host city Valencia certainly has a very different flavour to the lushness of Montreal’s Ile Notre-Dame and the old-world glamour of Monte Carlo. Situated in the recently-revamped marina area, and with garages located in old fish warehouses, the Spanish track has a very distinctive vibe.

In the build-up to the on-track action there was a raft of pre-race activities for the drivers to enjoy. The HRT duo were amongst the busiest, with Vitantonio Liuzzi and Narain Karthikeyan helping to make (and then tucking into) a huge Paella (the dish originated in Valencia) on Wednesday night. On Thursday they had the chance to work off any calories by testing their mettle on jet skis.

Local hero Fernando Alonso was being much more studious over at Ferrari, handing out Formula Santander study scholarships to students. The successful few had been chosen from thousands of applicants and hail from England, Brazil and Spain. The winners received a grant of 5,000 Euros as well as tickets for Sunday’s race.

McLaren’s Jenson Button and team reserve driver Pedro de la Rosa also went back to school on Thursday, taking to the kart track for a Vodafone Team Challenge event, part of a sports mentoring initiative being supported by Vodafone Spain as part of the Vodafone Team programme. World Series by Renault driver Maximo Cortes, freestyle skier Gustavo Ballesteros, football coach Jose Antoinio Gonzalez Barato and golfer Jose Maria Orozco were all in action at the temporary track near the iconic Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias building.

The drivers’ attentions may have been fully focused on setting up their cars on Friday but for the fans there was much more than the practice running to keep them amused, courtesy of the F1 Rocks™ concert in Valencia. The headline act was mega producer David Guetta, who has three chart-topping albums to his name and has also worked with a variety of pop and hip-hop artists such as Jennifer Lopez, Rihanna, Lil’ Wayne, Kylie Minogue and Madonna.

Despite an hour’s delay caused by a freak software glitch, once solved Guetta was able to entertain his fans to full effect. Earlier in the day, he had visited the Formula One paddock to look around and was as impressed with what he saw as his fans were of his performance that night. "It's true - F1 Rocks!” he said. "I was fascinated by my first behind-the scenes experience at the racetrack in Valencia yesterday. The party last night was incredible; one of the most beautiful venues I've played. A technical hitch meant I started late; sorry guys… but once I dropped the first record, nothing else seemed to matter, but the beats."

In a slightly lower key (but equally fun) gathering on Friday evening, Mercedes hosted a celebratory tribute to the great Juan Manuel Fangio, to acknowledge the 100th anniversary of his birth in Balcarce.

Other famous faces at the Valencia track included Spanish opera singer Placido Domingo; Ron Dennis; former Ferrari and Arrows sporting director Daniel Audetto; former Grand Prix winner Heinz-Harald Frentzen as a steward; former fellow Grand Prix drivers Gerhard Berger and Luciano Burti, and rising Brazilian F3 winner Felipe Nasr; former McLaren logistics manager Jo Ramirez; Red Bull team owner Dietrich Mateschitz; former Intersport Racing and TOM’s Racing team principal Glenn Waters and old British F3 team-owning rival Dave Price; and Trevor Francis, best known as British football’s first million-pound player at Nottingham Forest, who was a guest of Virgin.

On track, Saturday’s GP2 encounter saw DAMS’ Romain Grosjean handed the golden opportunity to take victory after polesitter Charles Pic dropped to the back of the grid after his Barwa Addax machine stopped on the formation lap. Grosjean’s rise to a five-point series lead was also helped when Pic’s team mate Giedo van der Garde was given a drive-through for ignoring yellow flags.

As Jules Bianchi and Marcus Ericsson, and Fabio Leimer and Alvaro Parente collided on the opening lap, Grosjean and Van der Garde sprinted away as Racing Engineering’s Dani Clos and Super Nova’s Luca Filippi battled over third and iSport’s Sam Bird did likewise with Caterham Team AirAsia’s Davide Valescchi.

Van der Garde’s penalty dropped him down to fifth before he recovered to take second. With eight laps left he picked off Clos on lap 24 and pushed Valsecchi into running too deep at the hairpin with two to go. Thus Grosjean claimed an easy victory ahead of Van der Garde, with Valsecchi delighted to take a podium on Caterham’s first appearance in GP2.

Sunday’s sprint race saw Sauber F1 reserve and ART driver Esteban Gutierrez take his maiden GP2 win, the Mexican dominating after a mistake from Arden polesitter Josef Kral. Luiz Razia also passed Kral, who would later spin out, on a restart and came home second ahead of Van der Garde.

In GP3 Arden polesitter Lewis Williamson bogged down at the start of Saturday’s race and was overtaken by Marussia Manor Racing’s Adrian Quaife-Hobbs and Addax’s Dean Smith. The Scot had to be content to hold third, fending off team mate Mitch Evans, until Smith’s car lost pace on the final lap. As Quaife-Hobbs sped home to an excellent victory, they both moved up to join him on the podium. The unfortunate Smith finished fifth behind team mate Gabby Chaves and ahead of Status’s Alexander Sims.

Sunday’s round brought a maiden GP3 win for ART’s James Calado, who controlled the race from pole and took the chequered flag four seconds clear of Sims, with team mate Valtteri Bottas third.

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