2012 FORMULA 1 GRAND PRIX OF EUROPE
- 740, 000
- First Grand Prix
- GMT +1
- Spanish, Valenciano
- Roman Catholic 85%, Protestant 11%, Jewish 2%, Muslim 2%
- Visa / Passport Requirements
Having only joined the Formula One calendar in 2008, Valencia retains a novelty factor for drivers, teams and spectators alike. The city’s 5.4 kilometre (3.4 mile) street track winds its way around the recently reconstructed America’s Cup marina and, as is the case at Monaco, the Mediterranean provides a spectacular backdrop.
"Only a few years ago," says local hero Fernando Alonso, "there wasn’t any television coverage in Spain and now we have two Grands Prix in the country. I am very happy for Spanish motorsport."
Despite the Monte Carlo comparisons, average speeds through Valencia's streets are high, and certainly faster than at Monaco. At one point on the lap, the cars reach a top speed of around 320km/h (200mph).
"It is a very special event,” says Alonso. “Street circuits are a great challenge because you can’t make a single mistake; they allow the better drivers to make a difference, so I welcome another street track on the calendar."
While Valencia is Spain’s third largest city, it covers only 23 square kilometres (nine square miles). As a result, it is chock full of race-goers over the Grand Prix weekend, so expect a party atmosphere.
Did you know? Valencia is the home of one of Spain’s most famous dishes, paella.
Valencia Airport is situated nine kilometres west of Valencia and has links to 15 European countries. It is in the process of being expanded to increase capacity from the current four million passengers per year.
Given that Valencia is a relatively small city, parking is likely to be nigh on impossible over the race weekend, so hiring a car may not be advisable. The public transport network is excellent and there are plenty of options for getting into the city from the airport. Bus services cover the journey in anything from 20 to 45 minutes, or it's just a 15-minute ride on the metro.
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Grandstand ticket prices are similar to those for the Monaco Grand Prix, with the most expensive seats located by the harbour. For those of you with a love of the deep blue sea - and equally deep pockets - you could watch the race from a boat. Mooring costs would need to be negotiated with the harbour master.
"Racing around the harbour is very spectacular," says Alonso. "Half of it was made smarter for the America's Cup, so it is all very impressive."
You can keep up to speed with all the action throughout the weekend by hiring a FanVision controller, which offers access to several channels of live video, audio and data content.
Where to go?
The Moorish conquerors in medieval times are responsible for much of the architecture in the city’s Old Town, known as El Carmen. One of the most spectacular buildings in the city is the Palacio del Marques de Dos Aguas, with its extravagantly sculpted exterior.
To get a 360-degree view of the city, you can climb up the 207 steps of the octagonal Miguelete bell tower. From there, you can see all of the city’s most famous tourist attractions, including the Modernista market, which, with its 900 food stalls, is a food lover’s heaven.
While on the subject of food, you might want to try an authentic version of the local dish, paella. For those on a budget, try eating at Chust Godoy (6 Calle Boix); for those looking for something more exclusive, Alejandro (15 Calle Amadeo de Saboya) is the place to go.
Where to stay?
The city has a full range of hotels, from the major chains where the sport's big wigs will reside over the race weekend, to the many mid-range hotels. However, do not expect bargain rates as demand for rooms is sure to exceed supply. As an alternative, you could do worse than stay in one of the surrounding towns - Torrent, for example - and catch the train into the city each day. As a rough guide, Valencia’s most expensive hotels are in the Old Town and along the coast.
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Spend a day at the Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias (City of the Arts and Sciences). This magnificent 350,000 square-metre building is stuffed with exciting displays, the highlight being its Oceanografic, or Water World.
Or, if you’re looking for something more physical, head to ‘La Tomatina’, a tomato-throwing festival. It takes place on the last Wednesday of August every year in the town of Bunol, which is just a short trip from Valencia.
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The Ricardo Tormo circuit, regularly used by the Formula One teams for winter testing, is situated just 20 kilometres from the city. It’s used all year round, so there’s likely to be something going on, even if you pitch up mid-week.
Valencia Street Circuit
Calle Doctor Lluch, 4
|Fri 22 June 2012|
|Practice 1||10:00 - 11:30|
|Practice 2||14:00 - 15:30|
|Sat 23 June 2012|
|Practice 3||11:00 - 12:00|
|Sun 24 June 2012|