F1: 5 Best Street Circuits of all time

Singapore was Formula 1's first night race and also a street circuit.
Singapore was Formula 1's first night race and also a street circuit.
George Howson

Street circuits are a type of track which divides fan opinion but have become more numerous in recent seasons. Some fans dislike the lack of overtaking and general low speeds of street tracks, while others love the close racing and the lack of a margin for error. The cities in which the street circuits are located also provide mesmeric backdrops to the on-track action. Currently, five Grands Prix take place at street circuits, just under a quarter of the 2019 calendar, and there have been plenty more in the past too. Here are the five best Formula 1 street circuits of all time.

#5 - Long Beach

Long Beach used to hold F1 Grands Prix during the 1970s and '80s.
Long Beach used to hold F1 Grands Prix during the 1970s and '80s.

Formula 1 has had a difficult history in the United States, but one of the better circuits to host the US GP is Long Beach. Although the track is more famous for its IndyCar races these days, the Long Beach Street Circuit hosted eight F1 Grands Prix between 1976 and 1983 as the Western race of the USA. Los Angeles provided a fantastic backdrop to the race, but there was plenty of action on the low-grip road course to grab your attention.

The best race around the circuit was probably the final one in 1983, where John Watson won after starting in 23rd position, the lowest place that anyone has ever done so and a record that still stands to this day. Only 12 drivers finished a race that had a typically high rate of attrition for the time as Alain Prost, Keke Rosberg, Patrick Tambay and Nelson Piquet all suffered troubles during the Grand Prix. The tight walls and the bumpy surface made Long Beach a true challenge and it would be amazing to see F1 return to the track in the future. With there being strong rumours of a second American race in Formula 1, Long Beach could well find itself back on the calendar again.

#4 - Adelaide

Adelaide's Street Circuit hosted the Australian GP between 1985 and 1995.
Adelaide's Street Circuit hosted the Australian GP between 1985 and 1995.

The Australian Grand Prix now takes place at Melbourne's Albert Park, but it was originally hosted by the South Australian city of Adelaide. Adelaide harboured eleven Grands Prix between 1985 and 1995, with some championship deciders and some other incredible moments taking place at the event. The stunning 1986 and 1994 conclusions to the championships were both at Adelaide and the characteristics of this circuit played a key role in the outcome of both races. The bumpy surface no doubt played a role in Nigel Mansell's puncture in '86 which cost him the world championship that year and eight years later, Damon Hill's view of Michael Schumacher's race-ending crash was blocked by the walls surrounding the track. Had Hill been racing at a regular race circuit, he would've likely seen Schumacher's incident and not lunged him so quickly.

On top of those moments, there was also the shortest F1 race ever in 1991, Ayrton Senna and Prost's last podium in 1993 and Hill winning by 2 laps in 1995, the joint-biggest margin in F1 history.

Melbourne's Albert Park (also a street circuit) has hosted the Australian GP since 1996, but most fans and experts agree that Adelaide just edges it in terms of the quality of the track.

#3 - Singapore

F1's first night race is also one of its most challenging.
F1's first night race is also one of its most challenging.

With the Malaysian Grand Prix off the calendar, the Singapore Grand Prix is now the undisputed biggest challenge in F1. The Marina Bay Street Circuit has hosted a Formula 1 race every year since its creation in 2008 and will be around for years to come. The Singapore GP was also the first ever night race in F1 and this has become a popular feature with Abu Dhabi including a night section towards the end of the Yas Marina event and Bahrain now being run under lights.

What many fans love about this track is that it's a true street circuit, being run on roads in the heart of Singapore. The majority of corners are routine 90 degrees right or left-handers, but the close proximity of the barriers and high frequency of turns make it a real assault on the drivers' bodies. The lights of the Southeast Asian city's skyscrapers make an amazing background to the aerial shots we get from the helicopter cam throughout the weekend. Overtaking is typically difficult for a street circuit but far from impossible and as we saw in 2017. When it rains, it becomes a very low-grip surface which catches drivers out. There were rumours that the Singapore event would be discontinued, but it's thankfully here to stay until at least 2021.

#2 - Montreal

The Circuit Gilles Villeneuve has been home to the Canadian GP for over 40 years now.
The Circuit Gilles Villeneuve has been home to the Canadian GP for over 40 years now.

Although it may not resemble a classic street circuit, Canada's Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is run on what are usually regular roads throughout the year, so it definitely qualifies for this list. Montreal's Île Notre-Dame Circuit (as it was originally known) is a strange mix of high-speed straights, slow chicanes and tight walls surrounding the track which makes it a very challenging track. The track has hosted the Canadian Grand Prix since 1978 when it took over the event from Mosport Park and races around the Quebec track rarely disappoint.

There are too many moments to pick from, but some of the ones which stand out in recent times are Jenson Button's epic last to first drive in 2011, Daniel Ricciardo's shock win in 2014 and Robert Kubica's only F1 win in 2008. The 2009 race wasn't run due to the poor state the circuit was in, but that year off did it good, as the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve now has a safe place on the calendar. One of the standout features is the "Wall of Champions", the wall on the outside of the final chicane where, in 1999, Michael Schumacher, Damon Hill, and home favourite Jacques Villeneuve all ended their races.

While the Mexican and US GP's were both off the calendar in the late 2000s, this was the sole race in North America, and long may it continue!

#1 - Circuit de Monaco

Monaco is the ultimate street circuit.
Monaco is the ultimate street circuit.

It couldn't be anything else, the Circuit de Monaco is one of the iconic venues of motorsport and the quintessential street circuit in Formula 1. The Monaco Grand Prix's history goes back decades before the formation of F1, first being run 90 years ago in 1929 and is still a staple of the calendar to this day. The streets of Monaco are the tightest in F1, making it the ultimate challenge in motorsport, one brush of the barriers during the 78 laps will likely mean the end of your race. There are so many unique features on offer here, such as the tight Hotel hairpin, pass under through tunnel, the high-speed Tabac and the Swimming Pool chicane. Perhaps the most standout feature, though, are the glitz, glamour, and fashion which surrounds the race weekend, everyone who's anyone is at this race. Overtaking is almost impossible, which draws criticism from a lot of fans, but when a pass does happen, it's always noteworthy, if not special.

Like Canada, there are far too many classic moments to name in Monaco, but the one which best defines it is the battle between Ayrton Senna and Nigel Mansell in 1992. Mansell had won every race so far that season in his all-conquering FW14B but found himself behind Senna in the closing stages following a puncture. Senna used all his experience and defensive skills to keep his much faster opponent behind him to the line, equalling Graham Hill's record for five wins in the principality.

But what is your favourite ever F1 street circuit? Is it Monaco or another that tops your list? Let us know in the comments below!

Edited by Kaushik Das


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