The 2012 Grand Prix calendar has presented F1 with a 'mini-season' of three consecutive street circuit races, starting with Monaco and continuing with Montreal last week before wrapping up next weekend at Valencia. It's just as well that Sauber's two young drivers Sergio Perez and Kamui Kobayashi
like the vibe of street racing as much as they do.
"I enjoyed the Montreal result very much and I want more of that," said Perez, coming off third place in Canada. "I like the track in Valencia a lot and also the atmosphere during the race weekend, as we are quite close to the fans."
That said, the street courses didn't treat Perez so well in 2011.
"I don't have the best memories of my F1 début race in Valencia, as it was last year and a very difficult one for me," he admitted. "I was returning to racing after my heavy shunt in Monaco [having been forced to drop out of Montreal] and in hindsight I have to admit I don't think I was fit enough. I didn't feel well at all."
Kobayashi had no such problems last year, and is getting quite the taste for running close to the Armco barriers in 2012: "You are always quite close to the walls, but after our last two races in Monaco and Montreal this is nothing new," he said.
Showing just how much he enjoyed racing in the heart of a city rather than at a specially constructed complex miles from anywhere, he add: "Valencia as a city is a nice destination by many measure, I would happily choose it for my holidays. By the way, you can also get the best fresh squeezed orange juice there!"
Giampaolo Dall'Ara, Sauber's Head of Track Engineering, had his mind firmly on more down-to-earth technical matters as the team prepared for its second visit to Spain of the year.
"Valencia is a street circuit, but not a typical one, because the surface is very smooth, and the kerbs are not very high," said Dall'Ara. "In addition, the aerodynamic efficiency is significantly more important than, for example, in Monaco or Singapore, and there are proper run-off areas.
"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," he said, adding that the team was expecting hot conditions that could affect how the Pirelli tyres perform. "Pirelli is supplying us with the medium and the soft compound tyres, which have changed a bit since last year and may need us to look at a slightly different strategy for them. Rear degradation could be an issue.
The perennial problem with street courses in F1 is the issue with overtaking. "Overtaking is not easy on this track, therefore qualifying is of particular importance," agreed Dall'Ara. "The car is basically unchanged since Montreal, however, we might run a higher level of downforce."
"Overtaking is not easy - but not impossible either," insisted Kobayashi.
"The Valencia street circuit has quite long straights with hard braking into the corners, and what we have learnt from Montreal will be important for that," added Perez.