Street Fight
Monte Carlo 2018
Monaco Grand Prix
Valencia, Sunday morning
Valencia, Sunday morning
Posted By: James Allen  |  23 Aug 2009   |  8:24 am GMT  |  15 comments

It’s 8-30am, I’ve just arrived at the track, travelling through empty streets, the city still coming to life.

The track is down the end of the main avenue which leads to the docks. There are boats in the marina, including two super yachts owned by McLaren’s Mansour Ojjeh and Force India’s Vijay Mallya. They are trying but this place is still more Tilbury Docks than Monaco.

There haven’t been many people here all weekend, the crowds in the stands have been sparse, not Turkey levels, but still pretty low. The recession is blamed for the low attendance and also the fact that it is mid August and many people are on holiday. My Spanish colleagues tell me that the organisers have requested a move to October. There has been a rumour all weekend that this is the last race here, but I’m told this isn’t the case, the city has invested a lot to get this race and hasn’t come close to getting its money back. But they do want a date switch.

I was interested to know when was the last time a Ferrari qualified last on merit. There was that time in 2006 when Massa crashed early in qualifying and then Schumacher was moved to the back of the grid for blocking the track in qualifying. In 1958 Wolfgang von Trips started last at the French Grand Prix, having failed to set a time. He came through to finish 3rd in the race, so that is a positive precedent for Luca Badoer.

There has been a lot of talk this weekend about Red Bull trying out KERS in Spa. This story came from one of the other teams, the mechanics and engineers all talk to each other. It seems a risky thing to do as they will not be able to test it before Friday practice and these systems seem to have had quite a few reliability glitches. If they do go for it, it will help Sebastian Vettel more than Mark Webber, as Webber is the heavier driver, so it will put him and his car over the weight limit. It’s likely then that Vettel would be the only one to use it.

This is also the first race since the Concorde Agreement was signed and it’s great that that whole side of things has calmed down now. Part of getting that deal signed was the agreement between teams on resource restrictions. Apparently this document has some numbers in it of employees each team can have, the number declining next year and again in 2011. Those numbers will not be made public, but they will see F1 teams reduce in size to around 300 people. Most of the lay-offs will come this winter and next. It’ll be a painful process, but Formula 1 is contracting to ensure its sustainability.

With BMW and Honda going, the balance and dynamic between the teams is changing, we will now have four manufacturers; Ferrari, Toyota, Renault and Mercedes racing against nine independents. It will feel quite different, back to the way it was in the 1990s and this is no bad thing.

This is also affecting the driver market. With three new teams coming in and many drivers likely to be moving around next year there are plenty of possibilities for teams, who are driving a hard bargain. One driver feeling this at the moment is Jarno Trulli. Toyota boss John Howett said yesterday that there is a strong chance that they will not agree a new deal with Trulli.

Jarno said, “I think that the teams in general are looking at the economics problem. They are all waiting to understand what they can do for next year, what their budgets are, whether they will make a move. At the moment it is hard.”

Breakfast time now, Looking forward to the race, I think it will be a very competitive battle between the McLarens and the Brawns. On paper Barrichello should win it, it’s his best chance of a win since Barcelona, but I’ve a feeling Hamilton will make it happen for himself again.

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Not sure about the switch to October. MotoGP run at the other Valencia circuit in late October/early November, it seems to be one of those “set in stone” dates and is always a sell-out.

Surely there must be Spanish fans who support both F1 and MotoGP and this seems to be a date clash, October may not be the best month to change to.


This is also affecting the driver market. With three new teams coming in and many drivers likely to be moving around next year there are plenty of possibilities for teams, who are driving a hard bargain.

I don’t quite follow — with more teams, surely it’s the teams who are playing a game of musical chairs, as the supply of F1-capable drivers stays the same while the demand increases? Especially with the drought of testing.


well done James, called it right.

Jenson needs to relax a bit, forget about the points cushion, and start driving the damn car properly again.

I’m starting to get worried, it’s only really thanks to Red Bull’s misfortune that he still has the advantage that he does.

he can’t keep relying on Sebs car blowing up, and with the temps at Spa not likely to be particularly favourable for Brawn.. finger out has to be the message.


James, the problem is not the calendar but the ridiculous prices for race tickets. F1 while a great show is not worth – the prices being asked.

Oh, the new races will initially have attendance. But over the years it will level out.

Regards, Steve


p.s. I enjoy your column….


badour is still trying to make up excuses for his pathetic performance.

he’s driving in a better car than the rookie’s (and 80% of the grid), he has more experience in the f1 than the rookies (and many in the grid)…yet he still can find an excuse why it is normal to be seconds slower than them.

if he had some self respect he would say to ferrari “thanks for the chance, but i am not up there…let me go back, put a capable driver in the car”.


i’m not surprised attendance is so low following last years race, and the fact that alonso isn’t going to win, which is what most of the spanish fans care about.

the city is nice, but the track… ok the layout isn’t necessarily too bad but racing round a dockyard is never going to have the same appeal as the other street circuits of monaco or even singapore. it looks dull from all angles, but especially from the track, where all you can see is concrete and catch fencing. they should just use kerbs instead so at least you can see something. i for one wouldn’t miss this race if it quietly dropped off the calendar next year. good place for a holiday but not for a race – i’m just glad i booked two days on the beach afterwards, the conditions in the paddock are amongst the worst of any race.


Good morning James

I am watching the race today from Italy Rai Uno.

Caught a glimpse of you yesterday on Rai Due giving a very eloquent interview in Italian.. I was very impressed!

I think your right about Hamilton today, he has that ability to make it happen so fingers crossed


If they were to do Valencia in October surely that would be quite close to Singapore and they wouldn’t want two street circuits so close to each other on the calendar.

When are we expecting a provisional 2010 calendar anyway? Uusually we have something by now

Wendy Hope-Falkner

If Kers would be a disadvantage to Mark Webber due to weight, is this the reason behind Kubica’s

failings this year? Or has the severe diet he has been on made him lack lustre?


Talking about Trulli, he also said on “… nothing is sure. If you look back over the last year it is a disaster. Honda has pulled out, BMW has pulled out, and probably they will not be the only one.”

Does this mean he has a feeling that Toyota will not be there for long?…also Williams trying to get rid of Toyota engine contract.

Or maybe he just feels that 5 years with Toyota and no good results it’s time to move on…but where? I don’t see any better team for him atm. Maybe USF1, they are looking experienced drivers such as Wurz, de la Rosa….sure Trulli would be better of them all.

I think 5 years in 1 team without any good result, it’s time to move on, even when it means going backwards meaning results, or you lose the last motivation you have.

Who gonna replace Trulli? I would go for some younger driver, but Toyota is known for getting experienced drivers, so maybe Heidfeld or Kubica?


There was a story about last week that Toyota think Kubica is not quick enough.


It is also said that when Toyota signed Ralf Schumacher they thought they ought to pay him double the money they had agreed to pay Jarno Trulli.

Double ridiculous!!

Finally, how have they managed to deteriorate from podium visitors at the start of the season to present performance, 13th and 14th. And they haven’t had a car in Q3 since G.W.a.B.



Hola James!

I so wish i was there!

I’m only an hour down the road.. send your Limo!


Yea i would absolutely love Rubens to take a win here.. its his best shot for a while and he needs a confidence boost.. Like Jenson got at the beginning of hte season. 1 win can give you extra tenths at the next race for sure.

I’m looking forward to a great race here in Spain. Weather forecast is cooler today than yesterday i think, so perfect weather, BBQ on.. cold beer and F1.. tis a dream!

Nice one James, keep up the geat work!


Congrats Rubens!

I am sooooo happy with today’s result.

If Jenson could have finished higher it would have been netter.

Now, lets see what Rubens can do at Spa!!



Your idea that this race is Barrichello’s to win sounds to me as rather odd.

Barrichello was only marginally faster than Hamilton in Q2 (when Hamilton did only one stint) and in Q3 Hamilton was on is way to improved a lot on his last lap. Then the fuel corrected times of Q3 would have been much closer too.

Hamilton and Kovalainen have KERS so it’s seriously unlikely that Barrichello will jump them Both at the start.

Also, Barrichello is good at qualifying, but he tends to do worse during the race. With Hamilton it’s the reverse. Kovalainen is more like Barrichello. Maybe there could be a battle between those two for P2.

“On paper” this race really is Hamilton’s to win.


Not too far down the road and it’s already very hot. Although not a jewel in the crown like Monte Carlo I still think this race deserves a bit more faith and an investment of some time to allow it to get to grips with itself as a racetrack. I think we can all name a few tracks the provide nothing spectacular for 80% of the time but then blow our minds with something really special. Venga Valencia! I hope it reaches at least some sucess. Enjoy your weekend James and make sure you don’t eat any sardines unless they have been gutted. A lot of tapas bars dont bother and unless you’ve got a leathery Iberian stomach you’ll be paying rent on the toilet on the flight home!

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