Since it joined the calendar in 2008 on the back of the wave of interest in Formula 1 in Spain that was triggered by Fernando Alonso's title success, the Valencia grand prix has never quite managed to carve itself a niche in the popular consciousness.
Perhaps it's the curse of the European Grand Prix title that has been, at best, transitory in the world championship, but largely it's because the event lacks a unique selling point. In fact, it barely makes the top four harbour-based races in Formula 1 these days!
It's certainly fast for a street track, with a lap speed of over 120mph, but when you have Monaco-levels of overtaking you need a stunning backdrop, or half a dozen or more decades of history to make the event. What Valencia has is a race around the old America's Cup Marina, with the relics of the competition that was once housed here already creating the air of a ghost town.
Having the motorhomes lined up on a spacious quay is an improvement on Monaco, and the fish market that houses the pits does add to the ambiance, but this race is unlikely to be anything more than a Monaco-lite (and caffeine-free at that).
One thing might make a difference this year and inject some life into the event, and that's the move away from a slot in the middle of the Spanish summer holiday season. Valencia itself is a great city, and with the choice either of strolling up the beach to take your pick of restaurants or heading into the nearby centre, a less sleepy town could certainly make the whole thing more like the festival of motorsport that urban races aspire to be.
The track has a deserved reputation for producing little in the way of overtaking, but despite that last year's race was a thriller. Lewis Hamilton had pole position and controlled the race in the early stages, but Rubens Barrichello put himself in the position to attack and had several extra laps' worth of fuel to exploit that would surely have carried him to first place even if McLaren hadn't botched Hamilton's final pitstop amid confusion over whether it would be the then-world champion or team-mate Heikki Kovalainen that was next to stop.
Hopes of a repeat of that this year are misplaced, not least because the fuel load variable has gone, and although anyone expecting a repeat of the tyre shenanigans that enlived the Canadian Grand Prix will be disappointed there is reason to be excited.
Fernando Alonso is the hero of Valencia © LAT
A major Ferrari upgrade, featuring the much-vaunted blown diffuser, is widely expected to catapult the Scuderia into contention. That means that Fernando Alonso could deliver a home win at a track where things have seldom gone right for him.
Italy could certainly do with this race being the fuse that ignites the Ferrari title challenge now that its football team is out of the World Cup. Watching the final moments of the Slovakia game in the Ferrari motorhome certainly brought that tie to life - although Jarno Trulli walked out in disgust once Italy had conceded a second goal!
With World Cup fever infesting the paddock, there's already talk about Sunday's post-race Germany versus England second round tie. There were plenty in the paddock cursing the last-minute USA goal on Wednesday that condemned England to second in Group C and guaranteed a Sunday, rather than Saturday, game and the tension is already building. Who knows what it will be like come Sunday - especially at Anglo-German Mercedes Grand Prix.
But before that, there's a grand prix weekend to be getting on with. Despite the excitement of the World Cup moving into the knockout stages and an event that has yet to seize the imagination, there's very good reason for the world to play very close attention to the on-track battle this weekend. With the balance of power set to shift, the European Grand Prix is going to be one of the most important of the season.
Get back on track. Join today for unlimited access to all Autosport news and features.
Are you an Autosport magazine subscriber? Activate your online account
Your Autosport Plus membership includes:
- Unlimited access to Autosport's news - no monthly cap.
- Read the best motorsport features, analysis and opinion.
- Explore Forix, our comprehensive motorsport stats database.
- Choose from monthly, yearly and two-yearly packages.
Edd Straw is Editor-in-Chief of Autosport, overseeing both print and digital versions of the brand. Edd has worked for Autosport since joining as a junior reporter in 2002. He became Editor in November 2014, having previously worked as National Editor, News Editor and Grand Prix Editor.
Originally from Guernsey in the Channel Islands, he joined Autosport shortly after graduating from university. He went on to cover a wide range of categories from club motorsport to the World Touring Car Championship and Le Mans to Formula 3 before switching to F1 full-time at the 2008 French Grand Prix. He continues to cover a range of international events in his position as Editor-in-Chief.
In his spare time, he was formerly a club racer whose abilities did not match his enthusiasm in a variety of categories.