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GP Week : Issue 21
W 24 hen Bernie Ecclestone announced that Valencia was going to organize an F1 Grand Prix from 2008 at a new urban circuit, near to the city’s marina, everybody started to wonder: Why a new circuit in Valencia if they have one in Cheste? One which, with a small redesign and a little imagination could easily accommodate a Grand Prix? The answer is quite simple: The President of the local government of Valencia’s region, Mr. Francisco Camps, was obsessed with the idea of a Formula One race in Valencia and he entrusted a project to do it in Cheste, by redesigning the current layout. He took advantage of Bernie’s visit to the opening race of the GP2 Series in 2006, to organise a visit to the facilities of the America’s Cup, an event which took place in 2007 to huge acclaim in Valencia. Camps and Ecclestone were guests of Ernesto Bertarelli, owner of the Alinghi sailing team, in his team’s base in the marina. Camps wanted Bernie to see the capability of the city to host a big event, but in the back of his mind the only race venue he ever had in mind was the existing Ricardo Tormo circuit in Cheste on the outskirts of Valencia. The president finally got his Grand Prix … but not in Cheste. “We will do an F1 race in Valencia” Bernie said to Camps “but I want it here, in the marina”. It’s said that Bernie was delighted with this new marina and he didn’t want to hear anything else about Cheste. He wanted a new Monaco for the 21st Century, with yachts, VIPS and sex appeal. Once the city had the approval of Ecclestone, it started the “show”. Hermann Tilke has been, as usual, the person in charge to design the new circuit in which he was tasked with combining the marina, which is open to regular traffic, together with a new development area, in which he was given carte blanche to do whatever he wanted, since it existed at that time as a simple plot of land. One of his first dreams was the possibility of building a bridge to close the dock of the marina as well. The main straight of the circuit runs past the bases of the America’s Cup teams, housed in grand waterside buildings, and to build the F1 pitlane, it was decided to make use of a 19th century building, stunningly ornate and reflective of a period of grand Spanish architectural style. This building has once been a warehouse, storing goods brought into the port by the travelling sailors. Just as those buildings had