What is the greatest F1 track?

It is definitely not Sochi.

16w ago
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Formula One has visited 73 tracks in its history, with some being better than others. To find out which venue is definitively the best, I'm going to be evaluating whether each track reaches certain vital criteria. Unfortunately, I won't be considering old school classics such as the Nordschleife or Brands Hatch, but rather circuits visited in recent years.

Being tested will be all the tracks on the 2019 calendar, this year's unscheduled venues (Istanbul, Portimao, Imola, Mugello and the Nurburgring) and Malaysia. Got it? Good.

Does the track offer memorable and unique characteristics?

Every circuit needs to offer something special for it to remain in the heads and hearts of F1 fans. A noteworthy sequence of corners, radical elevation change, or even a massive converted baseball stadium create a certain aura and charm which connects with drivers and fans. Unfortunately, some circuits fail to offer anything worth remembering. It's very difficult to get excited about races staged on asphalt run off paradise with 90 degree bends.

Mexico's 'wall of noise' is one of the highlights of an F1 season, where Lewis Hamilton was crowned World Champion in 2017 and 2018.

Mexico's 'wall of noise' is one of the highlights of an F1 season, where Lewis Hamilton was crowned World Champion in 2017 and 2018.

Eliminated: Sochi and Paul Ricard.

Does the track have a notable corner?

Every great circuit needs a brilliant corner which stands out for one reason or another. It would be easy to focus on your classics such as Eau Rouge, 130R or Maggots and Becketts, but there are so many underrated phenomenal corners on the calendar. Look at the incredibly fast turns 11 and 12 at Melbourne, Bahrain's challenging turn 10 and even Hungary's blind turn 4. However, some tracks feel like they've been drawn with a protractor and these are the corners which fail to add any essential character to a circuit.

Eliminated: Abu Dhabi, Singapore, Mexico.

Eau Rouge is often considered as the greatest corner in motorsport.

Eau Rouge is often considered as the greatest corner in motorsport.

Does the track provide ample racing?

Arguably the most important factor when determining the standard of an F1 destination is whether or not you can overtake. In recent years, overtaking at any venue has been far to difficult due to the current spec of cars, but some tracks stand above others on this issue.

Eliminated: Barcelona, Budapest, Monaco, Imola.

Despite Monaco's legendary status, it has fallen out of favour with many F1 fans due to its processional nature.

Despite Monaco's legendary status, it has fallen out of favour with many F1 fans due to its processional nature.

What are the chances of it raining?

While far from essential, there is no doubting unpredictable weather adds a fascinating sub-plot to any race. Some of the sport's greatest moments and finest performances have been delivered during tricky conditions. Yes, the meteorology isn't necessarily the tracks fault, but it's undeniably more exciting when the heavens do open.

Eliminated: Bahrain, Istanbul, Austin.

Despite F1 cars looking spectacular under the Bahrain lights, it has unsurprisingly not rained during a race in it's 16-year history.

Despite F1 cars looking spectacular under the Bahrain lights, it has unsurprisingly not rained during a race in it's 16-year history.

Does the track have a good atmosphere?

A feature that can be difficult to pick up on television is how passionate the fans are. While Mexico is a fairly unremarkable track, it is an exciting weekend thanks to the electrifying crowd and unique stadium section. One of the biggest problems of F1 venturing to countries with a lack of motorsport pedigree is that the atmosphere is rather bland, even if it is great the sport is expanding its global fan base. Despite this, a passionate crowd cheering on their local hero can turn a good venue into a great one.

Eliminated: China, Malaysia, Baku, Mugello and Portimao (both unfairly.)

The 'orange wall' has become a permanent feature of the Austrian Grand Prix, supporting Max Verstappen.

The 'orange wall' has become a permanent feature of the Austrian Grand Prix, supporting Max Verstappen.

Is the track challenging to drive?

Another very important factor is the challenge that a circuit provides. As fans, we want to see the world's best drivers pushing to the absolute limit, driving on the edge of the car's capabilities to find milliseconds. Many corners have seemed to lose their challenge due to the ludicrously high performance of the modern cars. However, many circuits still maintain a significant level of difficulty which can separate the average drivers from the very best.

Eliminated: Melbourne, Montreal, Monza, Hockenheim, Austria

Despite being one of the calendar's most demanding circuits, Suzuka shares the record for the most occasions that zero drivers were not classified after a race, a record it shares with Shanghai.

Despite being one of the calendar's most demanding circuits, Suzuka shares the record for the most occasions that zero drivers were not classified after a race, a record it shares with Shanghai.

In case you was wondering, this only leaves us with Silverstone, Nürburgring, Suzuka, Spa and Interlagos.

Is there elevation change?

One of the biggest takeaways from the recent Portuguese Grand Prix was that Portimao was enjoyed by fans and drivers for it's undulation. Difference in elevation adds a real personality to a track that a flat circuit just can't provide. Bends after large elevation changes can make corners blind, further adding to their difficult. Some of F1's most famous corners have elevation built into their very DNA, just look at Eau Rouge and the Suzuka Esses.

Eliminated: Silverstone

Due to Silverstone being constructed on an old aerodrome, it only features an elevation change of 11.3 metres.

Due to Silverstone being constructed on an old aerodrome, it only features an elevation change of 11.3 metres.

How unpredictable are the races?

There is only track out of the remaining four that you can guarantee to provide a truly bonkers race. As brilliant as Spa, Suzuka and the Nurburgring are, they cannot compete with Interlagos for the unbelievable amount of shocks that the track provides. Whilst all these tracks have provided some tremendous moments in the history of F1, nowhere does it as consistently as Brazil.

Whether it's Gasly's sensational podium in 2019, Giancarlo Fischella bizarre victory in 2003 or Martin Brundle's scary crash back in 1994. When it rains here, it really pours and some of the greatest World Championship battles have been decided here. None more famous than 2008 and the "IS THAT GLOCK?!" moment.

Interlagos featured twice on F1's top five races of the 2010's with the 2012 and 2019 events.

Interlagos featured twice on F1's top five races of the 2010's with the 2012 and 2019 events.

There you have it! Let me know if you agree with this list and what your favourite F1 track is.

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Comments (21)

  • Ahh what a great analysis on a really good topic! I love it that you concluded it with Interlagos. It has elevation changes, wide track for overtaking, it's a challenge and has rain around. Perfect.

      3 months ago
  • Spa

      3 months ago
  • Suzuka wud probably be my number 1

      3 months ago
  • Agreed

      3 months ago
  • Austin

      3 months ago
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