A well organised event, excellent view from most seats, clean facilities, plenty of food, drink and merchandise stalls, a relatively easy access, friendly and efficient staff… The F1 round at Hockenheim is exactly the type of grand prix you would expect the Germans to deliver.
The atmosphere and support for teams and drivers is very balanced despite the amount of German drivers in the field, which is great stuff for the impartial follower of the sport.
The circuit itself has also become a lot more spectator friendly than in its previous incarnation. Long gone are the overtaking manoeuvres happening at the chicanes in the middle of the forest where no one would be there to witness them. TV viewers and drivers alike probably bemoan the circuit changes, however, spectators see the leading car 67 times rather than 45 times before the 2002 event.
It might lack a bit of charm, but all in all, the Hockenheimring is probably one of the best purpose-built circuits to attend a Formula 1 weekend in Europe.
View from Nordtribüne (Image: MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS Formula One Team)
The Valencia Street Circuit is a bit of a curiosity. Designed to create exciting racing around the marina which hosted the 32nd America's Cup yachts, its sweeping bends (which can be driven flat out between the concrete walls) have provided very little overtaking as far as F1 is concerned, making this grand prix quite a forgettable one to watch on TV. The lack of luxury yachts in the harbour has also failed to recreate the magic and glitter of Monaco or Singapore.
Despite all this, spectators flock in high numbers (85,000 in 2011) and it gives the race an atmosphere (albeit Alonso biased) other Tilke designed Formula 1 tracks would relish. The city is enjoyable, easily accessible, the event is well organised and the weather is usually (very) warm and sunny at the end of June. The venue is also easily reached by public transport. These ingredients make it a perfect race to attend for a first grand prix experience, as well as for anyone in need of F1 live, coupled with a European city break or as part of a bigger holiday.
Grandstand P5 (Image: MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS Formula One Team)