Often when a Formula One driver gets asked about what thrills him during a race, he won’t tell you about the speed at which he travels or the thousands of fans who come out to watch the race. Often he’ll tell you it’s the rush he gets when he goes through certain corners. No doubt, the modern racetracks lack the character and challenge of some of the older tracks like Monaco, Spa and Monza but Herman Tilke has included a few gems in the design of some of the new tracks. Let’s take a look at some of Formula One’s favourite and most challenging corners.
Those who know me know that I’m a purist and love the tradition associated with the sport. I love the old tracks, the history, the lack of artificial grass and long stretches of runoff.
My favourite corner in F1 at the moment is Eau Rouge and the run down to Raidillon at Spa. It’s such a majestic corner. I just love the way it ascends and crests at the top and when you see Kimi Raikkonen fearlessly overtaking Michael Schumacher on the curbs around the outside of Eau Rouge, the Goosebumps one gets is unrivalled!
Turn 8 at Istanbul Park in Turkey is another favourite of mine. Unfortunately, with Turkey now off the calendar because of an apparent lack of interest and overpriced tickets, F1 fans will no longer see how the drivers struggle to keep the accelerator pedal flat around this triple left-hander – by far one of Tilke’s best innovations. The only disappointment is that this corner doesn’t have an exotic, French-sounding name!
The Formula One circus is currently at Monza, so to pay homage to this great circuit, one’s got to consider the Parabolica. It’s a 180 degree turn and F1 cars travel well over 200 km/h through that corner. Drivers often pray that they don’t lose grip and get flung straight into the gravel trap and barriers. Check out YouTube for an onboard lap around Monza and take a look at exactly how challenging and vital this corner is to overall lap time.
The iconic Monaco Grand Prix in Monte Carlo is without a doubt the jewel on the crown of the F1 calendar and even though the recent races there have been a bit of a procession; Monaco does have some wonderful corners. Many will argue that the Casino hairpin is the most challenging corner at the circuit because of the technicality of it. Personally, I’m a big fan of the tunnel followed by the bus-stop chicane. The change from dark to light in a split second must be tough for the drivers to get used to.
130R at Suzuka is another one of those special corners on the F1 calendar. It’s one of the fastest corners in Formula One and drivers take that corner at 310km/h. Precision is vital. Nuff said!
And no list of iconic corners can be complete without Montreal’s Wall of Champions. I know it sounds like we’re talking about a barrier more than a corner but let me explain the name. Turn 12 at the Circuit Gilles-Villenueve has famously caught out F1 greats like Jacques Villenueve, Damon Hill and Michael Schumacher and it still lives up to its reputation with the likes of Sebastian Vettel also making contact with the famous “Wall”.
Special mentions to Bahrain’s Turns 5 – 7, Valencia’s Turns 18 & 19 and Turns 2 to 4 in Abu Dhabi.
It’s clear to see from my list that I favour the older circuits because of the challenge it still presents. I just feel that the new Tilke-designed circuits – even though it certainly has a little bit of everything – doesn’t excite drivers and fans that much.