The McLaren drivers led by world champion Lewis Hamilton will be on the starting line at the 2009 European Grand Prix in Valencia, Spain.
Hamilton kept his momentum after his victory in Budapest last month and earned the pole position for tonight's race (8 p.m. Manila time). Trailing behind him on P2 is teammate Heikki Kovalainen, followed by Brawn GP's Rubens Barrichello, Red Bull Racing's Sebastian Vettel, and Barrichello's partner, Jenson Button.
Here's the complete starting lineup for the European Grand Prix:
1. Lewis Hamilton (McLaren)
2. Heikki Kovalainen (McLaren)
3. Rubens Barrichello (Brawn GP)
4. Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull)
5. Jenson Button (Brawn GP)
6. Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari)
7. Nico Rosberg (Williams)
8. Fernando Alonso (Renault)
9. Mark Webber (Red Bull)
10. Robert Kubica (BMW-Sauber)
11. Nick Heidfeld (BMW-Sauber)
12. Adrian Sutil (Force India)
13. Timo Glock (Toyota)
14. Romain Grosjean (Renault)
15. Sebastien Buemi (Toro Rosso)
16. Giancarlo Fisichella (Force India)
17. Kazuki Nakajima (Williams)
18. Jarno Trulli (Toyota)
19. Jaime Alguersuari (Toro Rosso)
20. Luca Badoer (Ferrari)
He may be at the bottom of the lineup but all eyes will be on Badoer, who takes Michael Schumacher's place as Felipe Massa's sub. Tonight's race gives Badoer, a long-time Ferrari test driver, the chance to rid himself of his unflattering distinction of participating in the most number of Grands Prix without scoring a point. With the limit on in-season tests, however, Badoer has hardly had any time in Ferrari's F60. As it is, the Italian said in Ferrari's website that he'll be viewing the 57-lap race as one "test session."
Renault almost missed the race after the Hungarian GP stewards handed the team a one-race suspension for allowing Fernando Alonso to take the track with an improperly attached tire. The ban was lifted early this week, giving Alonso another chance at making his countrymen proud. Renault is also fielding another test driver in Romain Grosjean after sacking Nelson Piquet Jr. during the summer break.
Meanwhile, BMW Sauber team principal Mario Thiessen said that the development packages for Valencia and Singapore will be put into practice as planned. It is BMW Sauber's last season as a company realigns its priorities in motorsports.
The big question tonight, though, is how Brawn GP plans to bounce back after drivers' championship points' leader Button finished outside the podium in the past three races. Button's hopes to stay on top hinges on McLaren and Ferrari's efforts to up their game a notch, and on Alonso, who hardly disappoints in front of his home crowd. This could mean more points could be taken away from Red Bull Racing, Brawn GP--and Button's--obvious rival to the title this season.
About the track
The European Grand Prix has changed venues numerous times, but from 1999 to 2007, the race was held at the Nurburgring's GP-Strecke. With the timely construction of the Valencia Street Circuit, the track will be the home of the European GP for the next six years.
Designed once more by Hermann Tilke, the 5.419-kilometer track uses a portion of the roads around the city's port area, including a 140-meter long section on a swing bridge--a feature that's not seen in any other Formula 1 track.
Another unique Valencia Street Circuit feature is that its main straight is not the circuit's longest full-throttle section. Instead, credit goes to the Contra straight section on the track's halfway point.
Interesting as the Valencia Street Circuit is, the track has very few overtaking corners and a lot of run-off areas that make the circuit rather unexciting.
The track's inaugural race last year saw Ferrari's Felipe Massa doing a hat trick as he did not only win the event after starting from pole position, he also clocked in the fastest lap time of 1 minute, 38.708 seconds. However, race stewards fined him €10,000 for nearly colliding Force India's Adrian Sutil in the pitlane. Massa will miss this year's European Grand Prix as he is off in Brazil recuperating from the head injury he suffered during the qualifying round of the Hungarian Grand Prix.
Check out the video below to learn more about the Valencia circuit.