We will look at the five best formula 1 tracks. It’s very hard to actually decide on a way to judge a track and given the way they’re popping everywhere, our cause is further punished. However, there are very few ‘proper’ Formula 1 tracks and they’ve been in the calendar for a very long time. The ‘Daredevils’, as ESPN like to call the drivers, have spoken every now and then about the adoration, problems and any other comment made on the tracks. They’re the ones who really decide which are the best ones out there, I’m just trying to conceptualise a list out of my experience in the sport as a spectator, as a drooling machine and most importantly, a fanatic.
Here’s the list:
#5 – Hockenheimring Circuit, Germany.
One of the most enthralling races of the calendar year, the Hockenheimring is always a big race. The circuit is a combination of high-speed straights and extremely-slow turns. The start-finish line, heading to turn 1, all the way up to turn 2, 3 and 4 is high speed. The latter of the turns brings the car down to a low speed but then, once that sequence is complete, they hit a parabolica and cars hit the maximum speed they can before braking with the utmost intent heading into the hairpin. The exit of the hairpin is an excellent place to overtake as it leads to a section of high speed straights with intermediate corners.
Having a balance of downforce and aerodynamic drag is the biggest challenge, but once accomplished, it’s easier than thought to compete. The track is lined with greenery and has slight topographic variations, making it one of the best tracks to drive around.
#4 - Suzuka Circuit, Japan.
Designed in 1963 and remodelled several times, the latest being 2003, the Suzuka is one of the drivers’ favourites. It is the only track to have a figure-8-esque shape. It is an extremely fast track with very few corners. Some of the challenges in this track are amongst the toughest in the sport and this is why it makes the list.
Two special features of the Suzuka circuit are the 130R and the S-curves. The 130R is amongst the fastest sections of the track and of the sport. The drivers head into the late-300s only to come down to less than a 100 at the Casino Triangle, just before the finish line. At the middle of the circuit lies the complex S-curves. The entry into these curves will decide whether you make it through with ease. The driving line is the most important rule to stick to here.
The challenge in this track is the considerable amount of strain applied on the brakes and the tires. Harbouring tires is a very difficult task and that is exactly what’s needed here in Japan. Locking of brakes could also be a common sight.
#3 – Silverstone Circuit, England.
One of the oldest tracks to have been used by the sport, the Silverstone circuit is famous for two reasons: firstly, being a competitive, complex track and secondly, for breaking Michael Schumacher‘s leg in 1999.
The track is complex compared to the two aforementioned ones and has some turns that, if approached without respect, could ruin your lap-time miserably. As the drivers cross the start-finish line, they head out to the ‘copse’ section which, much like the 130R in Japan, can be taken with speeds higher than the 300s. Driver confidence is the most important factor while tackling this turn, the other challenging part is the ‘Becketts’ section between turns 3 and 5. A confident, near-perfect approach will help in your lap time. Apart from these two, the cars go through all sorts of turns and high-speed straights but none of them pose a challenge like the Copse and Becketts.
Just like in Japan, the cars will need a perfect balance between high downforce and low aerodynamic resistance.
#2 – Circuit de Monaco, Monaco.
Circuit de Monaco, Monaco.
The most glamorous racing event in the calendar, the Monte Carlo Grand Prix is, to put in simple words, extravagant. It’s got everything, high speed straights, chicanes, boats and a tunnel! The one disadvantage of this circuit is the lack of areas where one can overtake. Apart from that, the race provides everything.
There are three very demanding sections in this track, the first one being turn 1. ‘Sainte Devote’ is an important start to the lap as carrying momentum through this turn gives the driver the ability to climb the following slope easily. After that, it goes downhill across some sharp turns and hairpins and into a tunnel. The exit of the tunnel is tricky due to the sudden outburst of light and a fast-approaching chicane. Drivers need to brake very hard to tackle this. Past this is another series of turns and into another chicane which is also very dangerous as there isn’t a run-off area at the exit of the said chicane. Drivers need to be at their best in terms of braking and timing.
The Circuit de Monaco is a landmark event and is loved by everyone! The drivers, the spectators, the non-driving staff, everyone! It’s got glamour, it’s got a great track, a magnificent view and has no podium. Winning a Monaco Gand Prix is the equivalent of winning a Wimbledon Grand Slam, symbolising prestige, class and history.
#1 – Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium.
Eau-Rouge at the Spa-Francorchamps Circuit, Belgium. (and Germany)
Traditionally one of the most awaited sporting events in the world, the Spa-Francorchamps circuit is every bit as scenic as it is exciting. The drivers face a very tough track with huge topographic changes that demand a lot from the drivers. Two critical sections of the track are the turn 1 and the combination of turn 3, 4 and 5.
The turn 1 hairpin is a defining moment of the race. The drivers have many lines to choose from but there are only a few that give you the advantage to face the next series of turns. Commonly called ‘Eau Rouge’, the sequence here is amongst the toughest in the sport. Drivers are heading uphill at high speeds and are completely blind as to what awaits them ahead of the rise. Being very close to a driver while heading to this sequence can spell trouble as you lose incredible amounts of downforce.
Post Eau-Rouge, the drivers hit maximum speed on a very long stretch. This then leads to a chicane and another series of complex turns. The track ends with an uphill climb and a long straight. This track is the favourite of all drivers who enjoy the challenge. Senna, Schumacher, Prost, Haikkinen have all publicly admitted that there’s nothing greater than driving on the Spa-Francorchamps Circuit.