"Part Monaco, part Montreal" was the pat description for the new street circuit at Valencia, host for Sunday's European Grand Prix. While the Hermann Tilke-designed track did provide two key ingredients for a popular and successful grand prix - an exotic location and a challenging layout where overtaking is possible - it was missing a vital third ingredient: close and exciting racing.
Monaco has its traditional glamour and Montreal has high drama via the likelihood of accidents and safety car periods disrupting even the most conservative strategies. Valencia promised the latter but, with all the drivers adopting a sensibly wary approach to the high-risk circuit, the race became a processional and low-key affair.
An aerial view of the Valencia city circuit © LAT
It didn't help that the passion of the local crowd was extinguished less than two minutes after the start, when Fernando Alonso's wingless Renault limped into retirement courtesy of a shunt from Kazuki Nakajima's Williams.
Nor is a close and exciting race likely when Ferrari's Felipe Massa is in the sort of irresistible form that he showed on Sunday. Especially on an unfamiliar layout with such heavy braking zones, Massa could have been forgiven for the occasional braking lock-up or wide exit. Yet the Ferrari was on rails all race long, as the Brazilian put on a Prost-like display of effortlessly precise driving.