Formula 1 has a love-hate relationship with many street circuits. Valencia was a street circuit in Spain that saw a short stint on the Formula 1 calendar. The circuit was the scene for the European Grand Prix from 2008 until 2012, but F1 left Valencia for the 2013 season and never went back.
F1 left Valencia due to the cost of maintenance the circuit required. Officials decided not to fund the circuit any further after 2012, and the circuit was subsequently closed in 2013. The track has since been abandoned, and the area around it has effectively become a ghost town.
The Valencia street circuit was challenging for most drivers, and it played host to some incredible Formula 1 memories. Below, we take a closer look at why F1 left Valencia, and we consider whether the F1 circus could ever make a return to the street track.
Why Was Valencia Removed From F1?
The Valencia street circuit was unique on the Formula 1 calendar. It was one of the few street circuits on the Formula 1 calendar when it was first added in 2008, with Singapore being added onto the calendar in the same year.
However, with Singapore still on the calendar more than a decade later, many have been left wondering what happened to Valencia. Valencia is an ideal holiday destination in Spain, with a hot climate and beautiful beaches. In addition, being the third largest city in Spain, it made a lot of sense to host a Formula 1 race at the track.
Initially the track was met with a lot of excitement. It had a lot of similar elements that Singapore has, such as the tight and narrow sections combined with the fast, sweeping corners, long straights, and challenging chicanes. However, the Valencia circuit only lasted five years on the Formula 1 calendar serving as the location of the European Grand Prix.
The main reason the Valencia Street Circuit suddenly dropped off the map is due to a lack of funding. Formula 1 has incredibly strict rules when it comes to which circuits they allow their sport to race on and which they don’t.
In order to even be considered to host a Formula 1 race, the circuit needs to be FIA Grade 1, which is the highest possible grade for a racetrack. In order to maintain this, a huge amount of money needs to be invested into the circuit each year for maintenance and upgrades.
Unfortunately, Spain, and the city of Valencia did not consider the track to be worth the amount of money needed to keep it maintained. Therefore, a circuit that cost hundreds of millions of dollars to build was abandoned just five years after hosting its very first Formula 1 race.
Didn’t Live Up To The Excitement
When the circuit first appeared on the calendar many fans and drivers were excited for it. Much like Singapore, the Valencia Street Circuit was a fast, twisty and narrow circuit that would provide the drivers with a real challenge.
However, in the end it didn’t live up to the reputation that Singapore very quickly gained for hosting exciting races. The majority of the races held at Valencia were deemed by many fans as “too boring,” and in the end they did not attract enough attention from both local and international fans.
Ironically, the final race hosted at the Valencia Street Circuit in 2012 was probably the most exciting one in its short history, with the Spanish hero Fernando Alonso hustling his Ferrari to a famous victory around the streets of Valencia. Unfortunately, it was too little too late, as the track was dropped from the calendar the following season, and closed entirely in the same year.
Not Enough Revenue
Ultimately, the Valencia Street Circuit did not bring in enough money for it to survive. This meant that the track itself could not fund its own maintenance and upgrades in order to remain at FIA Grade 1. This also led to the city of Valencia deciding to withdraw their funding of the circuit as it would end up costing them too much money to keep hosting Formula 1 races.
What Happened To The Valencia F1 Track?
The Valencia F1 track remained open for other events, including testing sessions for young drivers and smaller divisions of racing such as GT cars, after the final Formula 1 race in 2012. However, the Valencia track shut down for good in 2013, and has been abandoned ever since.
After spending millions of dollars on building a state of the art circuit, the city of Valencia let their track crumble and deteriorate. The Valencia street circuit is now a mess, a desolate wasteland riddled with graffiti and overgrown bushes. Broken streetlamps, old signage boards and fencing litters the track after being left there from the last event in 2012.
Unfortunately, the circuit is past the point of no return. What was once a beautiful street circuit in an idyllic location has been left to deteriorate. Many have been left wondering if more could have been done to keep the circuit alive. However, there are other circuits in Spain that F1 could potentially race at in the future.
Where Else Could F1 Race In Spain?
The Spanish Grand Prix is currently held at the Catalunya circuit in Barcelona. This circuit has been on the Formula 1 calendar for years, but for many fans it seems to have lost its charm amongst Formula 1 drivers and fans.
This is partly because the circuit is usually used for preseason testing, where the teams complete hundreds of laps around the track testing their new cars and potentially new drivers. This means that every driver and team knows this track like the back of their hand, and it has led to some fairly uneventful races in the past.
Despite that, the Catalunya circuit in Barcelona is still an excellent racetrack with some fantastic corners. We’ve had some great moments in the past, and it has become a staple of every Formula 1 season, so it won’t be changing anytime soon, regardless of whether or not fans think the circuit is boring. But where else could F1 race in Spain instead of Barcelona?
Circuito de Jerez
The Jerez circuit is close to the city of Jerez de la Frontera, near Seville. Formula 1 regularly hosted preseason testing at Jerez, as well as a race during the regular season. Jerez probably has one of the strangest reasons for being dropped from the Formula 1 calendar.
During the 1997 podium celebrations, Jerez’s mayor Pedro Pacheco presented a trophy that was meant to be presented by a dignitary from Daimler-Benz. The resulting confusion was deemed by the FIA to have caused “embarrassment,” and the punishment was that F1 never went back to Jerez.
However, Formula 1 has held preseason testing events at Jerez, with the most recent one being in 2015. Perhaps the sport may be open to return to Jerez in the near future, as the circuit is still FIA Grade 1.
Formula 1 has never raced at Aragon. To many, it is one of the best racing circuits in the world and it has been on the MotoGP calendar for quite some time. Motorland Aragon is just outside the Spanish city of Alcaniz and it meets the necessary requirements to host a Grand Prix, being FIA Grade 1.
Aragon has also hosted single seater races in the past. The only challenge would be overtaking and following closely. The only real overtaking opportunities with the current cars would be by using DRS in the first sector of the circuit. Afterwards it would likely be difficult to keep up with the cars ahead, but future regulation changes, and those brought in for 2022, could change that.
Circuit Ricardo Tormo
Circuit Ricardo Tormo is another circuit that has FIA Grade 1 credentials, so it could potentially host a Grand Prix. You might not have heard of this circuit before as it’s not used for any major events throughout the year apart from Formula E.
Strangely enough, this circuit is located in Valencia, which makes you wonder why Formula 1 didn’t just use this circuit instead of building an entire new circuit close by! Nevertheless, the Circuit de Valencia, which it is also known as, would likely make a great venue for Formula 1.
The layout itself also seems to be well suited to Formula 1 cars, with a long main straight and a good mixture of long, sweeping, fast corners and slower, tighter, and more technical sections. It’s unlikely that Valencia would welcome Formula 1 back with open arms after what happened with the Valencia Street Circuit, but you never know!
F1 left Valencia due to a lack of funding. The circuit was never able to generate enough money to upgrade and maintain their facilities, and the Valencian government did not think investment was worth it. Ultimately the circuit was closed down, and has now been left abandoned and deteriorated.