There may have been a great deal of build-up and anticipation ahead of the inaugural European Grand Prix held around the harbour-side streets of Valencia at the weekend, but the venue came in for just as much criticism in the wake of its first Formula 1 race for being widely deemed 'boring'.
Much had been expected of what is effectively now Spain's second grand prix after Barcelona, with teams and drivers predicting thrills and spills galore, numerous safety car periods and perhaps even an unusual pecking order around the Juan Carlos I Marina circuit. Very little of that actually materialised.
With the top three men in qualifying being the same three men as appeared on the podium at the end of the grand prix, and precious little in the way of overtaking making for a processional race from lights to chequered flag, the media – who had previously trumpeted the arrival of what they described as one of the most exciting new events on the F1 calendar in years – were quick to pounce.
'Ho-hum in Valencia', commented the International Herald Tribune
, whilst even Spain's national newspapers were no kinder.
'A boring track,' blasted sports daily Marca
, 'with hardly any possibilities for overtaking.'
'A boring race,' echoed Diario Sport
. 'At this venue, pole position is crucial.'
'It was a procession,' agreed El Mundo Deportivo
, 'during which nothing happened, except for that which should not have happened – [Fernando] Alonso retiring.
'It was a grand prix with much glamour but no safety car. The most exciting place was the pit-lane.'
Indeed, Ferrari's pit-stop travails with both race-winner Felipe Massa and defending world champion Kimi Raikkonen were arguably the sole highlights of the race – and BMW-Sauber test driver Christian Klien admitted that he had expected considerably more.
“I was actually surprised that it was a relatively boring race in which nothing really happened,” the Austrian former Jaguar and Red Bull Racing ace told Credit Suisse emagazine
. “In the other categories racing here we saw some really good racing, with spectacular overtaking.”