RESIDENTS living near Valencia’s disused and abandoned Formula 1 circuit are demanding an urgent solution to the rising number of shacks appearing at the site.
There are now said to be 50 people living in precarious huts along the same racetrack that once saw Fernando Alonso, Sebastian Vettel, Felipe Massa and Rubens Barrichello race each other to the podium between the years 2008 and 2012.
Since then, and once the licence expired, the Valencia Street Circuit built in the port area at a cost of €98 million has fallen into dereliction and has become an eyesore – as well as the basis for a lengthy court case over suspected corruption involving many former high-ranking local and regional political representatives, with several branches still under confidential investigation.
The city council is currently working with social services in the deprived Natzaret area to find housing, healthcare and employment for the settlers, mostly said to be men of African origin with residence and work permits who are usually employed in temporary jobs such as the seasonal fruit-picking campaigns.
Residents report that the settlers do not cause any problems, but insist that a long-term solution must be found for them and for the track.
Suggestions about what to do with the grounds include the construction of a pedestrian walkway linking Natzaret and the new Moreras neighbourhood, which is springing up due to an ongoing residential development plan in the area, with the port through the bridge known as the Cuc de Llum and which was built for the F1 race but is currently unused.
Attempts by the Valencian government in 2014 to alternate the Formula 1 race with Montmelo in Barcelona, in an attempt to continue with the event in Valencia but without having to pay the full price for the licence, fell through.
Shortly later, Valmor, the company set up expressly to deal with the event, went bust and required a €30 million bailout by the Generalitat in unpaid debts and which continues to cost the public coffers €7.5 million each year in bank loans nine years after the final event.
The total cost of hosting the European Grand Prix in Valencia was said to be in the region of €308 million.