The new Valencia street circuit appears to have received a favourable reaction from the majority of those present for last weekend's trial run before the venue plays host to the Formula One circus at next month's European Grand Prix.
The Spanish F3 and GT Open series shared the headliner role as the 5.4km layout was put through its paces a month before Formula One is due to arrive.and, despite peripheral details not being ready for the weekend to start on time on Friday, the event passed off without incident.
Typically, members of the F1 world - and even its GP2 support - did not pass up the opportunity to steal a march on the opposition, with almost every team represented in one way or another, frequently 'helping out' one of the competing operations in order to get access to information that could be translated into valuable data for their races in August. Even the drivers got in on the act, with many either practicing the layout in an F3 machine or racing in the GT competition.
Trident duo Mike Conway and Ho-Pin Tung were among those to get an early glimpse of the circuit, teaming up at the wheel of a Dodge Viper to win the first leg of the sportscar event and take fourth second time around.
“Our goal was to familiarise [ourselves] with an unknown track, but we enjoyed our stay for many other reasons," Conway commented, "I liked the track a lot. I was expecting a classic street course, but this one has many fast corners, with several passing opportunities, and that'll be appreciated in the GP2 Series.”
GP2 rival Adrian Valles was among those to venture out in an F3 machine in order to learn the layout, and the Spaniard admitted also insisted the comparisons with F1's 'other' street track should now end.
"On Thursday night, I really though that it would not be finished, but now I am very impressed," the F1 hopeful admitted to El Mundo
, "The circuit is very pretty, it is fast and seems very unlike Monaco, as the corners in the Principality are slower. It is closer to a permanent circuit than a street circuit."
Ferrari, working with the Valencian team Domingo Ochoa GTA Motor, and Toyota, with the Q8 Oils Hache Team were prominent from the F1 world, while BMW and Renault both benefited from an association with GP2 team Campos, which ran cars of its won in the F3 event.
A capacity 20,000 crowd watched the action - a precursor to the early sold-out August grand prix - and, after the programme was delayed at the start of the weekend, were only mildly inconvenienced when the track surface had to undergo minor running repairs, notably around he bridge section that is likely to become a focal point for spectators. As a result, speeds did not exceed 254kph for the GT2 and 230kph for F3, both considerably below the expected maximums likely to be seen on F1 weekend.
FIA safety inspector Charlie Whiting was also in Valencia over the weekend, giving the circuit - as well as its infrastructure and the organisational ability of Valmor Sports - a final once-over before allowing it to be used, not only for F1, but also for the national competitions scheduled to give it the trial run. With any suggestions he makes having a month to be carried out, Valencia looks set to welcome F1 over 22-24 August.