Not perhaps Valencia-based nostalgia – one of the very reasons that the circuit is set to fall by the wayside is that it has delivered a series of unspectacular races to an ever-diminishing number of spectators – but nostalgia all the same.
The signs did not point to the tumult. Sebastian Vettel, pole-sitter in 2010 and 2011, had gone on to win the last two events, and was on top in qualifying once more.
But several things then happened which made the racing feel like the Grands Prix of 20 years ago.
Vettel, one half of the dominant ‘great driver, great car’ pairing that he enjoys with Red Bull, was let down by his vehicle.
He had amassed a lead of more than 20 seconds before the safety car intervened, and with half the race left, there looked to be little doubt he would do it again.
And then, suddenly, Vettel ground to a halt with an electrical problem, his car left lonely on the track.
It was striking because, these days, car failures are something of a rarity. Only last year at Valencia, in fact, did all 24 cars which started a Grand Prix reach the chequered flag.
That might be really rather good news for the teams and drivers, but X-factor of a mystery engine issue mid-race does add a dash of intrigue and unpredictability to any Sunday.
Romain Grosjean’s Lotus, running second, then shuddered to a stop in almost identical fashion.
Bernie Ecclestone’s tinkering with the sport will probably not extend to installing an engine-cutter in every car which at random can force a retirement (well, you never know...) but nonetheless those two retirements were instrumental in producing a fairytale podium.
Forget your Formula One allegiances for a second: Fernando Alonso coming from 11th to first in front of a home crowd is motor-racing box office. And for him to then be followed home by Ferrari’s last two world champions, both of whom are at new teams after lengthy absences from the sport – that is special. After all, 99 Formula One races had taken place since Michael Schumacher had last stood on the podium.
The Alonso-Kimi Raikkonen-Schumacher top three evoked memories of yesteryear – perhaps, in no small measure, because the very same result had been seen almost seven years ago to the day.
At the French GP in 2005, Alonso, then of Renault and on his way to a first world title, saw off Raikkonen, racing for McLaren, and Ferrari’s Schumacher. Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose...
Had it not been for Lewis Hamilton and Pastor Maldonado being involved in a crash – this time with each other – you could have been forgiven for thinking that you were watching a race from days gone by.
A couple of races back, this column argued that a little predictability in the finishes would do the season no harm. The point, in essence, was not to see the racing become stale and predictable, but that it would be useful in a title race to see the main contenders start to emerge.
At Valencia, we got that.
Alonso has built a handy early advantage in the standings, Red Bull appear to have the fastest car, and Hamilton has the know-how and, occasional errors from team and driver excepted, the talent to stay in the race.
The Lotuses are a serious factor and will win races, with a crop of young drivers headed by Grosjean, Sergio Perez and Maldonado pointing to an explosive and exciting few years ahead.
Their time will come – but as the sport bids farewell to Valencia, the stage belonged to the old guard.