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F1 Circuit Guide: Exploring the World's Most Iconic and Challenging Tracks

Posted 25 Jul 2023

Formula 1 is the pinnacle of motorsport and its circuits have played a huge role in shaping the sport’s legacy. It is a sport that pushes its drivers to their limits. With 23 rounds in a race calendar, there are many iconic and challenging circuits. Each requires exception skills and precision from drivers to navigate successfully.

In this article we explore five of the toughest Formula 1 tracks in the world:

Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve, Canada

Based on the Notre Dame Island in Montreal, Quebec, this 4.361km racing circuit is the home of the F1 Canadian Grand Prix. It first opened in October 1978, has 70 laps, and has a lap record of 1:13.078 as set by Bottas in 2019.

Interestingly, the man-made Notre Dame Island in the middle of the St. Lawrence River was initially create for the 1967 Expo 67 World’s Fair. Once this, and the 1976 Montreal Summer Olympics were over, it was decided to make a race track out of the island’s roads. It was first named the Circuit Ile Notre-Dame, but later renamed to Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve.

The circuit is a driver-favourite with lots of heavy-braking chicanes and a famous hairpin corner. The most iconic part is at the end of the lap at the ‘Wall of Champions’ after drivers like Damon Hill, Michael Schumacher, and Jacques Villeneuve crashed into it during the 1999 GP.

Silverstone Circuit, UK

The Silverstone Circuit was the first Grand Prix, and it hosted the inaugural World Championship round in May 1950. The track features 52 laps with the lap record set by Lewis Hamilton of 1:27:369 in 2019.

Whilst it’s had a number of layout changes over the year, it has always maintained its reputation as one of the fastest tracks on the race calendar. Historic corners like Maggotts, Becketts, and Abbey have provided some of the biggest racing challenges for drivers, and as for its speed, Lewis Hamilton compared a flat-out lap at Silverstone to flighting a fighter jet. 

Circuit de Monaco, Monaco

Without a doubt this has to be the most iconic circuits, hosting its first grand prix in 1950. With 78 laps, Max Verstappen set the lap record of 1:14:260 in 2018.

The drivers love how it forces them to put their skills to test. Nelson Piquet once described it as “like riding a bicycle around your living room”. Overtaking on those tight streets is even harder, and in the 2003 we witnessed zero passing moves. 

Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium

The first Spa-Francorchamps F1 took place in 1950. There are 44 laps, with Bottas setting the track record in 2018, with 1:45.286.

The original track was built in 1921, with track designers Jules de Thier and Henri Langlois van Ophem using the public roads between the towns of Francorchamps, Malmedy, and Stavelot to create a circuit which took in the forests and rolling hills. It was redeveloped in 1979, and although it is now only half the length, it is still the longest track on the race calendar. 

It has a mix of long straights, and many challenging fast corners, it’s a track that drivers can push to their limits (when it’s dry, of course!). The most thrilling corner is Eau Rouge, as being one that drivers have to flick left, right, and then up the hill. 

Suzuka Circuit, Japan

Suzuka first held its grand prix in 1987, featured 53 laps, with the record being set by Lewis Hamilton with 1:30.983 in 2019. The track first came to be in 1962 when Soichiro Honda built a test track for his vehicles. Drivers love the high-speed track, with its snaking ‘S’ curves. Many refer to it as a white-knuckle ride. 

Learning about each of the circuits will sure make you appreciate the artistry and skill behind Formula 1 racing. Each one providing a thrilling racing memory. From the high-speed straights to the challenging corners, each offers an unforgettable experience. 

Grab your F1 Tickets now.

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