Europe

Track: Valencia Street Circuit
No. of Laps: 57 Length: 5.419km
Distance: 308.883km
Lap Record: 1:38.683 – T Glock (2009)
2011 Winner: Sebastian Vettel

The 2011 European Grand Prix (formerly the LV Grand Prix of Europe) is scheduled to be the eighth race of the 2011 Formula One season. It is scheduled to be held on 26 June 2011 at the Valencia Street Circuit in Valencia, Spain.

The European Grand Prix (sometimes referred to as the Grand Prix of Europe) is a Formula One event that was reintroduced during the mid-1980s and has been held regularly since 1999. From 2008 it will take place for at least another 7 years.

In earlier years, the European Grand Prix was not a race in its own right but just a honorific title; one of the national Grands Prix was also designated as the European Grand Prix. The first race to be so named was the 1923 Italian Grand Prix, held at Monza and won by Carlo Salamano in a Fiat and the last one was the 1977 British Grand Prix. Since its reintroduction, the European Grand Prix is usually held in a country that also holds a national Grand Prix in that same year.

History

The European Grand Prix was created as an honorific title by the AIACR, the FIA’s predecessor in the organisation of motor racing events. The first race to receive the title was the Italian Grand Prix, in 1923, and it was followed by the French Grand Prix and Belgian Grand Prix. After a hiatus in 1929, Spa received the last honorific title of the pre-WWII years, in 1930.

The title was revived by the FIA after World War II, and was first given to the Belgian Grand Prix in 1947, and was distributed across several countries until the 1977 British Grand Prix, the last race to receive the honorific title. All post-war honorific European Grands Prix were F1 races.

The Italian Grand Prix was named the European Grand Prix seven times, which was more than any other race. It received the title three times in the 1920s.

The 1980s

The event was initially created as a stopgap. In 1983, the Formula One schedule originally featured a race near Flushing Meadows Park in New York. When the race was cancelled three months before the event, track organizers at Brands Hatch were able to create a European Grand Prix at the track in its place. The success of the event, buoyed by a spirited battle for the World Championship, led to the event returning on the schedule the following year.

Brands Hatch was unable to host the European Grand Prix in 1984, as it was hosting the British Grand Prix in even numbered years (alternating with Silverstone) so the European GP went to a redesigned and shorter Nürburgring circuit in 1984. It was a far cry from the 14 mile Nürburgring that most were used to seeing, and was initially unpopular during Formula One’s return. Brands Hatch returned to host the European Grand Prix in 1985, but the race was replaced in 1986 by the Hungarian Grand Prix.

The 1990s

In 1990, a wealthy Japanese businessman, Tomonori Tsurumaki, built an extravagant (and remote) race track called Nippon Autopolis with the idea of hosting a Formula One race. In 1992, plans were made to have an Asian Grand Prix in 1993 to replace the Mexican Grand Prix on the schedule. However, these plans failed to materialize. Instead, Bernie Ecclestone added a race at Donington Park to the schedule, which brought back the European Grand Prix moniker. The race was the brainchild of Tom Wheatcroft, who had been trying to bring F1 to the track since an abortive attempt to host the British Grand Prix in 1988. The first (and so far only) race at Donington Park resulted in Ayrton Senna’s victory in wet/dry conditions.

The European race would go to Jerez the following season, and then returned to Nürburgring, which was now popular again with drivers. Because of this it hosted the race again in 1996, but after complaints that no other countries were to get the race, the Nürburgring race was renamed the Luxembourg Grand Prix. Jerez got the race back in 1997 as a replacement for the Portuguese Grand Prix. Jerez hosted the season finale that year, and it was the site of the famous incident between Michael Schumacher and Jacques Villeneuve which saw Schumacher get disqualified from the championship. It was also the scene of Mika Häkkinen’s first Formula One victory.

In 1998, the European Grand Prix was dropped from the schedule, but returned in 1999 when the race at Nürburgring re-adopted the European Grand Prix name.

The 1999 race was notable for the torrential rain conditions which saw many experienced drivers slide off the circuit, presenting Johnny Herbert with the opportunity to take Stewart Grand Prix’s first (and only) victory in its final season before being sold to Ford.

The race continued to be held at the Nürburgring until 2007. On August 29, 2006 it was announced that it had been removed from the F1 calendar for the 2007 season. From then there would only be one GP hosted in Germany each year, alternating between Hockenheimring and Nürburgring. However, what the name of this Grand Prix would be was uncertain for a time; while originally intended to be the German Grand Prix from 2007, the Nürburgring race of 2007 was renamed “Großer Preis von Europa” (European Grand Prix) due to a dispute over the ownership of the title “German Grand Prix”.

Since 2008 the European Grand Prix has taken place in Valencia, Spain. During the 2009 event, Valencia signed a deal for a further 5 races, which puts Valencia on the calendar until 2014. There are doubts about its continuation on the calendar thereafter due to disappointing attendances and increased competition between nations to host a grand prix, leaving no room for one country to host two races. Its vacated place on the calendar is set to rotate among other nations, as the sport seeks new markets.

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