The track they should build in Austin


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Elio de Angelis and Keke Rosberg in a photo finish at the Osterreichring in 1982

Since the news broke that the United States Grand Prix will return to the F1 calendar in 2012 I’ve had emails from many fans in Austin, Texas about the project.

It’s clear there’s already great enthusiasm for the project from fans in the area.

In order for the event to be a success the race organisers need to start by getting the track right – something F1 has failed to do at many of its newest venues.

A dream solution

Fans have been vocal in their criticism of modern F1 circuits in recent years. Happily the message finally seems to be getting through.

McLaren team principal and Formula One Teams’ Association chairman Martin Whitmarch admitted in a recent interview with Autosport that circuit design is letting F1 down:

We’ve had lots of circuits, with Abu Dhabi probably the most bizarre one, where money is no object and they started with a clean sheet of paper. Yet you’ve got probably one of the longest straights in F1 with a chicane and when do we ever see an overtake in a modern-day chicane?
Martin Whitmarsh

So what should race promoter Tavo Hellmund build with his $250m on an as-yet undeveloped plot of land in Austin?

My dream solution for the American Grand Prix is for a race on a superspeedway. IndyCars have abandoned monster tracks like Michigan Speedway and Fontana (now the ‘Auto Club’ Speedway) with their 390kph (242mph) average lap speeds.

Although the FIA regulations do allow for F1 cars to race on ovals, I’d be amazed if it ever happened. And the challenges of building a superspeedway to F1 safety standards would be immense.

But, without wishing to trade in simplistic national stereotypes, F1 would do well to draw on the American philosophy of, ‘bigger, better, faster’ embodied in those fearsome superspeedways.

That’s why I think the United States Grand Prix organisers should make it their mission to build the fastest circuit in Formula 1 for its return to America in 2012.

‘F1’s fastest race’

In America, more than anywhere else, F1 needs a unique selling point. It offers a completely different style of racing to NASCAR and cannot rival the home-grown popularity of that series.

Instead it should play to its own strengths, and put on a race that shows just what modern F1 cars are capable of.

F1 does not need another Valencia, another Bahrain or another Abu Dhabi. In a country with tracks as dramatic as Elkhart Lake, Road Atlanta and Laguna Seca, another Hermann Tilke cookie cutter effort won’t cut it.

What F1 needs is a new Osterreichring.

When the Austrian circuit was first used for F1 40 years ago it stole Silverstone’s crown as the fastest circuit in Formula 1. Today Monza holds that title – even with two very slow chicanes F1 cars lapped it at an average of 251kph (155mph) last year

Providing it can be done within the FIA’s restrictions on circuit design, a new track in the style of the original Osterreiching with long straights and wide, fast corners could eclipse Monza’s average lap speed.

Yes, it would need wide run off areas. But by copying some of the better features of F1’s newest track Yas Island – its impact-absorbing TecPro barriers and raised spectator stands – this could be achieved without pushing the spectators too far away from the action.

Being able to sell the event as “F1’s fastest race” would be a boon for the race organisers. But whatever they choose to do with their race, F1 cannot afford to waste another opportunity.

It has sampled nine different venues in America – more than it has in any other country – yet failed to find a long-term home. This is the first time it will hold a race in America at a track purpose-built for F1.

Gimmicks like pit tunnels and hotel bridges won’t be good enough. F1 in America needs something truly special and different. This is my idea for what it should be. What’s yours?

Your design for a US Grand Prix track

What would you like to see built in Austin for the United States Grand Prix? Post links to your designs using Scribble Maps, Gmaps Pedometer or a similar tool below.

Here’s my preferred design – though I won’t claim any credit for it:

2012 United States Grand Prix

Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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178 comments on “The track they should build in Austin”

  1. Actually, I always used to enjoy the races at Michigan Raceway. If they could do something like that only far far less bumpy, you might be onto a winner there Keith.

    1. Brilliant idea Keith. Spot on, America needs a fast track, high speed turns and slipstreaming. That would be awesome.

      1. Oh, i really dont want to see any kind of super speedway. We have one of those up in Dallas. But a fast track would be great.

        The land they are looking at out by the airport here in Austin is not in the hill country but it will have some elevation changes. It is also outside the city and not urban at all. I would love to see them use the contours of the land to do some special corners like the cork screw at Laguna Seca.

        1. That’ll probably never happen since the F1 rules actually define the maximum gradient a track can be. This is why classic circuits like Spa will keep things like eau rouge, while newer circuits don’t get anything fun for the drivers like that.

  2. “when do we ever see an overtake in a modern-day chicane?” In GP2.

    1. Agreed… I was at Abu Dhabi and there was masses of overtaking in the chicane at the end of the main straight in the GP2 race (and the earlier Chevvie and Porsche races too). In the F1 GP the chicane was about the only place at Abu Dhabi where there was overtaking.

      The biggest problem at Abu Dhabi with the track is the dinky looping chicane on the entry to the corner at the start of the main straight. That little dink removes one overtaking chance from the circuit and if it were removed then cars defending at that point would be compromised on the main straight – giving rise to more overtaking chances on the main straight.

  3. Monza has the record for the fastest current circuit… long straights, hard chicanes, wide open track…. AND it ends up with masses of overtaking, even in recent years.

    These long fast open circuits are the ones the fans love and which generate the most overtaking… Monza, Silverstone, Spa, Montreal.

    We need more circuits like that – not the plastic circuits like bahrain, valencia, etc.

  4. I’m thinking that for the US they should probably build something that has lots of gradient and crosses itself 2 or 3 times . . . and maybe had a jump in it? Just build one of the tracks from Speed Racer ;-)

    1. yes! … just YES!!

      1. YES! Chuck in a loop the loop for good measure… ;)

  5. Magnificent Geoffrey
    3rd June 2010, 13:14

    I give up on trying to figure out Formula 1 circuits. I absolutely agree that the Austin track should have a special characteristic, like being the fastest on the calendar or being free of tight hairpins or chicanes, but then I wonder about the dreaded ‘dirty air effect’ that seems to be a bigger problem around long fast corners and that makes me worry whether building a long, fast track would be conductive for overtaking. Then we have the Gilles Villeneuve Circuit in Montreal – tight, full of chicanes and a very sharp hairpin – and yet it always seems to produce very exciting racing whereas a similar track like Imola didn’t so much. Could someone please figure out this problem for me because I get far too confused when trying to think of what the ‘ideal’ circuit should be.

    1. Circuit Giles Villeneuve has long fast straights and has plenty of overtaking.

      In modern F1 what makes for overtaking are long fast flat out sections/straights with attention paid to the corners before and at the end of those straights. That’s why Canada, Britain, Italy and Belgium are such great GPs and why other newer circuits are a failure from an overtaking perspective.

      BTW when you think about long straights I wonder about the effect of the rev limit. Surely if all cars are limited to the same engine revs and a lot of the cars are using the same engines or variants then the cars cannot get closer when they are in the tow.

      If could choose to rev higher (a rev boost button ?) then there would be more overtaking and more engines being blown up (because of people boosting too much).

      1. “whereas a similar track like Imola didn’t so much.”
        Yes, because it was ruined.

        The OLD Imola was uber-spectacular.

        1. Mansell had balls of steal, what a driver.

      2. Mark – plenty of teams allow a few hundred revs in top gear for slipstreaming. The challenge is weighing up the costs with the benefits – and that’s racing!

        1. Due to the nature of the cars and physics, even if two cars are at maximum revs, the one behind will go faster.

  6. Did I read somewhere that the terrain is flat? I can’t remember.

    Something sprawling like The Ring with the gradients of Spa. Something EXCITING. With trees would be nice – like that lovely autumnal photo of that upstate NY track that was mentioned a few weeks back – but I guess it’s too hot for that in Texas.

    Keith, you’re absolutely right: it needs to be something DIFFERENT, that shows the American petrolheads what’s good about F1.

    1. Prisoner Monkeys
      4th June 2010, 2:00

      No, you read somewhere that the land was deliberately chosen to be as hilly as possible.

      1. That’s very good news. Thanks .

  7. Mate, good article. I agree that they do need to hit the USA with a “bang”, that is the only way it will succeed and grow in the USA.

    On a side note I think the thing that needs to be looked at is emphasising the capabilites of F1 on the screen. I mean these things are ridiculously quick, and their long capabilities are simply mind boggling but nothing is done to broadcast these aspects of amazement. There were some camera angles at the Malaysian GP few years ago looking towards turns 5 & 6 and 12 & 13 from a highish angle showing the cars taking these left to right corners and they really showed the car in action. Does anyone know what I’m talking about? I was amazed and am suprised that more effort isn’t put into milking the broadcasting options to sell the sport.

    NASCAR (North American smash car & auto repair) is a good example. Damn its a crap form of motorsport, yet it is delivered in a manner that I even find myself watching it from time to time.

    1. Whilst they’re at it, they should bring in the Helicopter pilots from the Hungarian Grand Prix last year. The aerial chase shots they had, where the ‘copter followed the shape of the track as it flew, were stunning!

      1. YES. They were frigging amazing.

    2. If we’re talking about the same turns and camera angles, YES! I remember some shots of the cars from behind as they went from a left into a right at high speed. In my mind, it was a lower camera angle and for some reason the rear aspect of the car highlighted how @$#% fast those cars move. My second vote for camera angles that show the speed is Copse at Silverstone. They sometimes get that one right.

  8. No arguments from me Keith, but in addition I think it needs banking. With banking there would be something familiar to American motorsport fans, and it would allow high speeds and multiple lines for setting up overtakes. I don’t have an idea of the layout in my head at the moment, but some kind of Indy-style final corner with a Turn 1 like Tarzan would be great. I don’t have an idea in my head what the track should look like, but it would be nice to have only a few corners, with maybe a token sharp, slow corner to make another overtaking point.

    1. Something else to consider is that the track shouldn’t be a white elephant to be only used for F1, but for other sports like NASCAR and IRL. An oval/road mix could help in this regard, and they could market it as a circuit to be used by all motorsports.

      1. I’d love to see a week long Total racing festival with Not only F1 but Indy and yes even Nascar, maybe ALMS and Grand Am visiting too. Nothing more could show off the speed of F1, start with the slow Nascars, then the sports cars, watch the Indy cars light up the track and then see how F1 cars can leave even Indy in the dust, that would be a fantastic time, and any racing fan from anywhere in the world would want to see it. Dream big Austin, imagine what that could do.

    2. A banking section, maybe not too long , could constitute a kind of launching pad into a long straight. That way the skill at the banking section counts, and it would also be safer if this banking came after the slowest corner.

      There are so many good points in Keith´s reasoning, including doing something constructive with the “bigger and better” mentality

      1. You mean like Indianapolis ^-^

        1. …or like turns 12/13 at China.

        2. I hope they don’t repeat indy, It was an incredibly boring track.

  9. Old Spa/Kyalami/Osterreichring would be very cool.

  10. I can remember this track. It was a good one. I think they used it also for 500cc bikes IIRC, although I’m a bit hazy on that one.

    It was super quick in places, just what we want!

    1. Ned Flanders
      3rd June 2010, 15:10

      The Osterreichring was a great circuit, but it looks as dangerous as hell! Look at those grass banks, they look lethal! And This video shows the problems they could cause: How on earth did it stay on the calender until 1987?

  11. The problem with the two circuits currently regarded as the fastest in Formula 1 – Silverstone and Monza – is that they both advantage a certain design of car so much that the winner is almost a foregone conclusion before anyone shows up.

    Monza is the worst offender. Do you have a Mercedes engine? No? Sorry, try the next race then. The FO108X is only a minor advantage at most circuits but the extra 10hp or so it puts out made Mercedes engined cars untouchable except in the wet.

    Silverstone is marginally better in that the cars expected to run away with the race are those with high-speed cornering performance, which is at least arguably what F1 is supposed to be about. Still, I dislike the fact that everyone expects Red Bull to dominate before a wheel has been turned.

    You can combine the two, of course – Spa does this, which is why it’s an incredible circuit. Interlagos and Istanbul Park balance three parts – a technical section for cars which turn well at slower speed, a couple of long, fast corners, and a series of long straights.

    But a circuit designed just to be the fastest? If a car is at full throttle 80% of the time, does that require driving skill? Aerodynamic efficiency? Or just a Mercedes V8 in the back?

    1. Stick a high-downforce corner and token fiddly bit in it then ;-)

    2. It would require balls of steel! And I look forward to the Renault engines in the back of the RedBull giving the Mercs a run for their money at Silverstone, at least.

      1. I seem to remember a Ferrari powered Toro Rosso winning at Monza a couple years ago :)… but you’re right, what we need is an American Spa!

  12. Robert McKay
    3rd June 2010, 13:36

    “F1 does not need another Valencia, another Bahrain or another Abu Dhabi. In a country with tracks as dramatic as Elkhart Lake, Road Atlanta and Laguna Seca, another Hermann Tilke cookie cutter effort won’t cut it.”

    If they just give Tilke that brief that’s at least a start.

    “Gimmicks like pit tunnels and hotel bridges won’t be good enough. F1 needs in America needs something truly special and different.”

    Not just in America! :-D

    Just don’t overdesign it and give it 24 corners where 12 will do and that will be progress…

  13. An old Hockenheimring PLEEEEEASE!!!!

  14. How about an oval then? :P

  15. I would like something with really fast in Austin. Something where the cars swing through quick and long s-bends, and cars getting some air. I would like long wavy sections where 3-4 cars are in each other’s slip streams (americans would love this and the drivers would be pushed to the limit).

    1. Sadly, the track definitely can’t be designed so as to make the cars “get air”. The downside of ground-effect downforce is that when you break the ‘suction’, the car suddenly becomes very light… and you can ask Mark Webber what he thinks of that:

      The principle of having ‘The Fastest Track In F1’ is a great one though. Teams would run almost no rear wing, so there’d be very little turbulence and they’d be able to slipstream better – everyone wins!

  16. The layout of the track should be based around a long, wide, large-radius S bend where there is a good chance to overtake from either inside or outside – in a similar way to where Button took Hamilton at the end of the lap in Turkey, except rather than being a slow combination it can be done at high-speed.

  17. Hmmm. While i’d love to express my inner F1 geek and name every great corner (in my own, humble opinion) i’m also still fairly unsure if this event will ever happen. It feels all too like Donnington

    Dunno if this will post but I’m getting java script and cookie errors? The site hasn’t let me post for a while, hopefully this will.

    I definitely can’t post in Safari, this is a test in firefox

  18. hmm thats weird. Well heads up to Keith, Safari won’t let me post because of Java and cookie errors (even though they are both enabled)

    1. Not sure, what system your running, I’m on a mac and both safari and firefox work fine….

      The site requires cookie’s for your posts, I suspect that’s the problem with you commenting. You Java errors suggest to me you may have some extreme security settings turned on, that don’t allow cookies or Java, so I suggest looking into that.

  19. Keith, couldn’t agree more.
    A fast old style tracks is what we miss, and Osterreich was absolutely great in that sense.
    Long straights, fast bends, great gradients, no hairpins…
    Kyalami old style was great also.

  20. “My dream solution for the American Grand Prix is for a race on a superspeedway” … um, no. please no driving in circles. This year, for the first time since MARIO Andretti was driving I decided to watch IndyCar racing. It was good racing for the first 4 races then they got to an oval. I was going to skip but no, I thought, Keith says ovals have something to offer other than spectacular crashes. So I watched… and was bored senseless, KC didn’t even have a decent crash to liven things up (although the Indy 500 did).

    I like the idea of a lightning fast circuit. And as an American I can trade in my own national stereotype and say, yeah “fastest on the calendar” would appeal quite nicely here. Especially since all the reports I’ve seen indicate it’s going to be along TX 130 which is on the flat east side of Austin rather than the hilly west side so we’re unlikely to see the wonderful gradients of a Spa or even Istanbul.

    And maybe Icthyes has a point about one banked corner. It would be fast and unique in the F1 calendar.

    1. Ive been saying this for ages, I think we need to lobby Austin to ensure the track is a low downforce configuration – a la Monza and Spa-Francorchamps. It would be a selling point, and by definition it would mean a fast circuit, maybe with with the last corner like old Portimao, but banked.

    1. It looks like the hairpin at the bottom matches the Casino hairpin of Canada.

    2. polishboy808
      3rd June 2010, 17:06

      looks actually pretty good, but pretty odd at the same time.

    3. That is awesome! That track would be amazing…

      1. Prisoner Monkeys
        4th June 2010, 3:01

        Amazing it may be, but all it does is copy other circuits. And that’s the problem with a “Greatest Hits” circuit – there isn’t a single original thought that goes into it, so there’s nothing new, nothing we haven’t seen elsewhere.

        Still, it’s a sterling effort.

        1. Although the track might grab all the best corners from other circuits, it wouldn’t necessarily mean that a greatest hits circuit wouldn’t be anything new.

          Firstly, with any road what you see in plan is only part of the equation. The actual grading of a road (i.e. elevation changes, dips and crests, uphill, downhill) can and does have a major effect on the character of the road. For example if you took the corkscrew at Laguna Seca and took away the elevation change, it’d just be a boring left right chicane. Similarly if you took the horizontal geometry (the bit you see when looking at track in plan) from R130 at Suzuka but positioned it going through a dip it would become a completely different corner. Therefore in my opinion the terrain where a fictional “greatest hits” track would be positioned would greatly affect the character of the corners. In some instances the corner would get better, and in other instances it would get worse.

          Secondly, even though the corners look the same in plan, the approaches and exits from the corners are different, and they would also change the character of the corner. In isolation a corner is just a circular arc. It’s the addition of an approach and an exit that complete the character of a corner.

          Additionally, I personally think with any track the terrain needs to define the layout. In other words, the terrain needs to dictate the layout, rather than trying to fit a two dimensional layout to three dimensional terrain. This in my opinion has been the problem with recent Tilke tracks, they have been situated on crappy flat terrain, meaning there is no interesting terrain to dictate the layout. It leaves the designers with no option but to essentially create an interesting circuit without the critical third dimension. This in my opinion isn’t the fault of the designers at Tilke, it’s the fault of the owners of the circuit, and it’s why I think Tilke bashing is a little unfair.

          1. Prisoner Monkeys
            4th June 2010, 8:11

            Yeah, but that doesn’t mean you go about copying other circuits. There’s no need. Not when you have the capacity to make something good. A Greatest Hits circuit might be good for somewhere like Shanghai, but given that the organisers of the Austin circuit have their heart set on a Spa-esque design, there’s no reason to copy other circuits.

        2. The corners are used are just a sample really of what I’d like to see and what I think would make not only an enjoyable challenging circuit but also one that will be good racing modern F1 cars on. Traditionally Tilke tracks have some very good overtaking opportunities but are let down by the constant radius mid to low speed stuff that makes up the other 80% of the track.

          For the track design I’ve come up with you can replace any the “greatest hits” corners with something similar but basically here are the concepts behind them…

          Start Finish Straight
          A long climb that plataeu’s out near the grid provides an excellent slip streaming opportunity. The hill climbing characteristic of Brazil and Spa is what makes their shorter straights work so well as different engines/cars are far more varied in their driveability compared to a flat straight in which all the cars will perform quite closely.

          Turn 1/2 “Senna S”
          Double change in direction and a drop in track height works well here for passing opportunities. The double change in direction followed by a wide open turn 3 allows for cars to run side by side without being badly out of position and you could imagine a scenario where drivers are side by side through turn 1, 2, 3 and down the short straight to the first of the Suzuka S’ bends.

          Suzuka S’
          Not as high speed as Becketts which diminishes the affect of car advantage and puts more emphasis on the driver hooking up the apexes. At this section cars are climbing but it’s only a subtle gradient.

          This is actually a mirror of the actual Pohoun which is a left hander. Anyway right hander works in this situation. Ideally this would be taken flat-out so cars can follow without losing speed leading onto the “straight.”

          Not really a corner, it’s taken at top speed without lifting in its modern configuration.

          The second overtaking position on the track. The approach and exit are both down hill which leads into…

          The cars dive underneath a grandstand that overlooks the hairpin and Blachimont. Emerging from the otherside side by side into the last true corner on the track, a tight chicane, you might concede track position here for better traction in the run up the hill to turn 1.

  21. I don’t like the rettifilo chicane…
    Anyway, good exercise Matt.

    1. Fair enough, really any slowing corner would be fine there.

  22. I’m no track designer so what I’m going to propose is probably impossible!!
    I think that the track should be designed with at least one complex corner that has more than one line through it, i.e. the normal racing line and also an all out ballsy line!! Imagine having to try and defend it!! :)
    I think it should also feature elevation changes and fast flowing/sweeping corners. I also agree that it needs to cater for American motorsports so that it doesn’t become another Istanbul Park!

    1. NO CORNER EVER will have more than one line through it. That is how God intended it to be!!

        1. @Christophe: Those are not 2 lines through that corner.

          Villenevue takes the outside line because he has the faster car and can afford to be on the slower part of the circuit and still be faster than Jones.

          Its a pity that the video doesn’t go on for another lap where we see Villenevue take that corner again without Alan Jones in the way.

          @Dave: That is in the wet. So, obviously, there is equal grip at all parts of the tarmac, since any rubber that would have been laid is washed away

  23. US needs a unique kind of track, like SPA, MONZA, MONACO or SILVERSTONE so the fans can quickly remenber.
    To do that US needs to built a track that has the caracteristics of an US track, wich is turns with some banking.
    Of course the banking in the turns couldn´t be a big one like Daytona or Dover, but something like indianapolis or maybe Charlotte would be fine.
    So for me it would be a large track with 2 banking turns, 1 turning left and the other turning right, which one of them with a different angle, also some elevations like the ring would be fine.

  24. I’m not sure why we’re even discussing it – every one of us knows in his heart that we’re going to get something with 2 straights, each with a tiny jink at the end to prevent overtaking, and 24 other constant-radius corners every 100 yards.

    Why bother?

  25. theRoswellite
    3rd June 2010, 15:17

    Texas certainly prides themselves on their mondoness.

    Big is better in this area of the US, so a high speed circuit, or I should say..the highest speed circuit..,would be a natural.

    And, an additional bonus to having a very high speed track is…the cars must carry a very limited downforce on the front and rear wing, thus decreasing the “disturbed air” problem.

    There are numerous comments that decry the merits of a high speed track based on the perceived dominance of the Mercedes engine. Teams come and go, engines even more so. To even take this into consideration would be folly.

    I’d like to see a section of banking (90-180 degrees), but I’d make it fairly extreme, and coming after a medium/slow speed corner you could avoid the problems resulting from extended periods of high G’ loading on both the driver and car; also, put the grandstands on the inside of the turn and avoid the obvious safety problems.

    Keith certainly has it right when he says that in the end it needs to be different and special in a way that will excite fans and the entire racing community.

    1. 90-180 degrees banking would certainly be fairly extreme! You’d be on a perpendicular wall at 90 degrees. Reminds me of that Schumacher ad for Mercedes.

      1. I think he means a 90-180 degree corner length, rather than the degree of the banking.

        It would be good to see F1 on an F-Zero track though!

        1. Ned Flanders
          3rd June 2010, 20:10

          Haha 180 degree banking= upside down!

        2. theRoswellite
          4th June 2010, 5:18

          Yes, I stand well corrected, 90-180 degrees of circular arc to the corner.

  26. I would like circuit that facilitates overtaking and good races.

    I believe the F1 calendar as a whole should have a wide variety of different types of track to test the cars fully and make sure you can’t just design a car suited for one type of track, so a circuit which would be F1’s fastest race could work.

    If the design isn’t finalised yet does anyone worry that there may not be enough time to fully optimise the design to the local terrain get planning permission and get it built within the next two years.

  27. While S-bends look good on camera and in on-board videos, I doubt they are good for overtaking.

    Personally, I would like to see an oval. It is what the American public is used to, and will be a welcome change from the current circuits.

    Plus, OVALS can provide engineers with more innovative solutions, say, getting rid of front wing end-plates or getting rid of the rear wing entirely or having the F-duct operational all the time!!!

    While high-speed aero is definitely what hurts Formula 1, in OVALS; teams will be using absolute minimum downforce thus allowing for close high-speed racing!!

  28. “americans want a track with banking to relate to”
    Yea, sure . Off camber after a blind hill would be nice.
    Definitely a track with elevation change and fast corners over the rises. Something like Inetrlagos, in a bowl for all to see, but not per say a stadium.

  29. Prisoner Monkeys
    3rd June 2010, 16:00

    Okay, I’m a terrble artist, so I’m just going to describe what I have in mind:

    The Main Straight
    The main straight is short by Formula 1’s standards, at roughly four to five hundred meters. It is wider than the regular straights because of the circuit’s unique pit lane: the drivers deploy down the left-hand side, make a sharp left and then drive down the pit lane in the opposite direction to the straight. Half the pits are on either side of the circuit with massive grandstands to create that stadium feel. The drivers loop under the circuit and re-emerge on the right-hand side, adjacent to the pit entry.

    The Haymaker
    The first sequence of corners is known as the Haymaker, named for the street brawler’s punch that can either knock an opponent out or leave you open and exposed. The first corner is a right-hand flick that the drivers have to lift off for, with the intertia of the cars carrying them to the far side of the circuit in time for the second corner, an almighty right-hander at a sixty-degree angle. This feeds out into a gentle right-hander that sweeps away and is very easy to udner-estimate and launch into a spin.

    The Switch
    The Switch is a sequence of sweepers that weave their way through a valley. The walls here are very close because the circuit has had to cut into the sides of the hills, creating enormous vertical walls that leave the apexes blind on the other side, the walls are all that separate the cars from a drop into a river. Think of the S-bends at Suzuka on cocaine. The bottom of the Switch where the circuit crosses the river is the lowest point on the circuit.

    The Spur
    A pair of hairpins might not sound like much fun, but Formula 1 has never had anything like this. It’s closer to a rally stage than anything else; the first corner – the left – opens onto the steepest climb on the calendar leading up to the second hairpin. The climb out of the second hairpin is much gentler, but the drivers seem to be leapig over a never-ending blind crest. There’s something similar to this at Charade.

    The Loom
    The next little sequence of bends is a lot like the final section of Valencia, but it’s very much a test of a driver’s skill. The sequence is a string of very slight bends, gentle enough to be taken flat-out, but sharp enough to require the drivers to constantly make steering corrections. A mistake here will force a driver to brake and re-correct, wasting precious seconds. Square in the middle is an endless right-hander.

    The Panopticon
    The highest point of the circuit (and also the furthest from the split pits), and it’s a real piece of work. It’s a right-handed elbow that sneaks up on you – especially since the previous section puts you off-line for the apex, so the drivers have to cut hard left despite the road not actually going left – and is treated as a double-apex bend.

    The road drops away almost as soon as the drivers are out of Panopticon, and it feels like a real kick in the guts as the cars bottom out. There’s a high-speed right-left chicane as the bottom that rquires a dab of the brakes to begin with (think of eleven and twelve at Albert Park, but sharper), butwich can then be taken flat out.

    Nausea feeds straight into off-balance, an off-camber right-hander made up of three identical apexes (though the camber mades it feel like its tighter than it really is). It’s technically classified as a hairpin, but it’s faster tha any hairpin you know.

    Absolute Virtue
    Directly below Panopticon is Absolute Virtue, the fastest corner on the sircuit. It’s banked. It’s shaped like the pointed end of an egg. And the drivers experience more G-forces here than on most circuits on the calendar.

    Possbly the most conventional bend on the circuit. The surface has levelled out in time for the circuit to clip away to the left and up the final climb.

    The final bend a nice, constant-radius left, kind of like the first bend at Suzuka. A mistakeduring construction has resulted in an additional bend, a gentle and flowing left-hander immediately after it, that flows onto the main straight.

    The basic shape woud look like this:

    However, the first bend would be sharper, there would be more flowing bends after it, and there would be that doubl-hairpin near the two-kilometre marker, which would look roughly like this:

    And the section after Panopticon would look like the extreme right-side of this:

    1. Gosh PM, you’ve thought about this haven’t you?

    2. Fabulous! Sounds like you came up with this after an impressive night on the town!

    3. Prisoner Monkeys
      4th June 2010, 3:03

      Thanks, guys. The basic design – the layout I drew in Prague – is one that I’ve been sitting on for a while. I just thought I’d flesh it out with some interesting stuff.

  30. colin grayson
    3rd June 2010, 16:36

    the most important thing for an F! track in the USA is the location

    and austin sure isn’t that

    bottom of niagra falls maybe ? [ canadian side of course ]

    more seriously , it has got to be somewhere people want to go , look at turkey , good track , no-one wants to go there ; monaco , fiendishly expensive but STILL gets a good crowd

  31. Hate to rain on the parade, but to design and build a track with all the associated infrastructure in under 2 years – I don’t really see it happening. (Based on 20+ years in the construction industry).

    Given the red tape developments in the US have to go through will make it even harder to achieve those time frames.

  32. I already do this all the time by making tracks for Grand Prix Legends with googlemaps X). As such:

    Granted, I’m usually mapping stuff out with existing roads. HOWEVER,*rubs hands together* let’s see what we can do for Austin with a blank slate…

  33. fred schechter
    3rd June 2010, 16:57

    Prisoner Monkeys I like your thinking!!!

    I’m routinely astounded that you want to bring in a Oval Keith (it’s why we watch F1, no ovals!) but I digress, the variety, once a year would be interesting, however the racing difference is so great in technique and tactics that I fear it would fall incorrectly in terms of marketing (and feel a little too forced).
    I agree on the “Mondo-ness” of Texas as well.

    The answer is the shape of a boot!! (It’s Texas, this is a thing that would fit with Texas very well).

    Start/finish straight is at the back of the boot, and drive down into a left hander the tightens(start finish straight is 500 yards from the corner so speeds aren’t too great from the start of the race (1st corner)).

    From there you’re at the top of the boot where you enter the “star complex” This is a combination of a 5 pointed star dropping down and breaking up the short chute at the top of the boot, these are all distinctive as they alter camber from point to point (obviously 5 points (Texas Rangers/Cowboys)). The top point is the receiver for turn 1 as well as the entrance to the return straight.

    The opening from the Star Complex opens into the Return straight (maybe called touchdown straight?) This is again a straight of nearly 3/4 mile that heads off towards the toe first slowly tightening right, then tightening left into the hard left hander “Toe corner”.

    “Toe corner” will be an excellent viewing position as you’ll get the entry from touchdown straight and the short chute to “Sole”.

    I know this is REALLY literal, but it actually fits, makes an interesting course, and if you’ve ever been to Texas would actually make them rather proud (TRUST ME!) Better yet, some really interesting opportunities to do something different.

    Now to the heel and spurs. The heel chicane tightens left from sole and the a hard road course 90 degree right hand turn, then a quick 90 degree left hander to heel, another short chute and a left hand 90 degree turn to spurs.

    Spurs is the idea of Prisoner Monkey and a great one at that! Hard right, to a hairpin left, then hairpin right, followed by another left to return to the Start Finish straight (that’s as long as the monstrous Touchdown straight headed in the other direction).

    I know this sounds hokey, but I think there are some elements that fit well into this scenario, provide a plethora of overtaking opportunities, as well as outright speed and definitely keep with the theme.

    Yeee Haw!
    (I hope Tilke is reading this!)

  34. keith u should be in charge after berni retires!!! =]

  35. Plenty of Ovals, fast ovals, already built in the US. In fact I encourage everyone to watch the indycar race on Saturday night (US time) up the road from Austin in Fort Worth. Side by side at 230 MPH. Tempatures over 100 degrees. It will be slick. Remember to breath while watching. Best race of the year.

  36. Spaceman Spiff
    3rd June 2010, 18:08

    I agree with the speed aspect you want, but there is more to a unique and exciting circuit than speed. The key to the eventual circuit design will be its actual location.
    If they choose a flat area, Herr Tilke can do anything, so it will no doubt be something akin to what he has done in the recent past… and probably as boring. But if they can find a hilly, undulating location (it is in the Texas “Hill Country” after all), hopefully they can design something more like Spa or Laguna Seca, where the local topography introduces its own uniqueness and excitment. Then they can work the speed and overtaking opportunities into it.
    So to the Austin promoters: Don’t just pick up the first big cow pasture you can find that is easy to bulldoze flat and pave over… put some real thought into it to find a location that really suits a racing circuit and give us a new Eau Rouge or Corkscrew.

  37. I’ve designed a track on autocad, a few years back because I was sick of seeing Tilke rubber duck layouts everywhere. I agree Osterriechring would be brilliant, though I believe that and Spa are only track known for having multiple red flag starts. My circuit looks like a SHARK not a rubber duck, aptly named Sharkring. Lots of intense hairpins and wide sweeping curves. Now if we can get the 1986 cars back, man that would be cool.

  38. All well and good; I would like to see an end of the “Tilkedromes”

    However you are forgetting something: no refuelling this year. So since a Grand Prix is supposed to be 300km or 2 hours whichever comes first, then the cars will simply not be able to run flat out for the whole race. Engines will have to be “turned down” at some point to reduce fuel co,sumption, cf Webber at Turkey…

    So there will be some fast laps certainly but that will be it!

  39. How about some 90 degree corners?

    1. Prisoner Monkeys
      4th June 2010, 3:09

      Um, why? Ninety-degree bends single-handedly killed the concept of street circuits because they’re all the same: second-gear and evenly-spaced. No challenge whatsoever.

      1. was just joking!

  40. East Londoner
    3rd June 2010, 19:10

    I’d love to see a circuit like the Osterreichring built as I have never seen any races at the original Ostterreichring, but seen plenty of boring F1 races on TV at the insipid A1-Ring.

    1. Hmm – I actually liked the A1-ring, although I’ll own up that aside from the infamous Ferrari place-switching debacle, I don’t actually remember particular races. Don’t remember hating the circuit, though.

      1. We learned the name Tilke, It was a little bit odd, but it did produce races. Then he came out with Sepang, an mostly we were like this guy is awesome.


        1. I quite liked the A1 Ring too. It was really great fun to race in the grand Prix games on the PC.

          Plus it only had 8 corners, and a hell of a lot of gradient.

          Tilke seems to want to squeeze 20+ corners into his newer circuits, and I can’t understand why. I was always under the impression that circuits had somewhere between 10 and 15.

          1. The Osterreichring had the same amount of gradient and indeed the same number of corners. The difference was they were mostly fast, there was more camber and the last corner (Rindt Kurve) was lightly banked.

            After Tilke’s modifications, not ONE corner remained. Now, I realise that the man had rules to work to, but that’s just ridiculous!

  41. I definitely dont feel that a super speedway is the way to go for an american circuit, simply because there are far too many of them in the US already. The NASCAR season includes 20+ oval/super-speedway races, if Im not mistaken, and IndyCar does their fair share too. As an American fan, I can tell you that in order for F1 to be successful, it must above all distinguish itself from the racing series that already have footholds in the USA. You wont get that with top-speed oriented oval racing, and Americans wouldnt understand all the fuss about F1 if they find that the cars perform only marginally better (or perhaps worse) than indycars around a banked-oval circuit. The track absolutely needs to have some long straights, and FAST, sweeping corners. I think it would be appropriate to have a heavily-banked corner or two as well. Bottom line: it needs to show off the kind of G-forces F1 cars are capable of.

  42. I’ve made it my twitter background @jrhonf1
    sadly it’s behind the text feed, will sort this later

  43. I’d like to see squared off 90 degree corner at the end of the front straight. Front straight should be high speed going into a medium to slow speed corner (80mph). The turn should be abnormally wide to allow lots of shenanigans to take place. I hope the course includes lots of elevation changes.

  44. This is my first comment on F1 Fanatic so go easy please guys!

    If you Locate Thunder Hill raceway on google maps and move approx 2.5 miles directly south, there is a racetrack there, See below. Its clearly not long enough at just under 2 miles, but could this be where Tilke will be tinkering. I’m gonna pop off now and design a track from this layout as a base. I may have to demolish the trailer park next door (South west) a little by the time I have finished though. ;-)

    1. Im thinking something along these lands, complete with old Portimao esque last corner and banked.

      1. and that one counter clock wise!

    2. HounslowBusGarage
      3rd June 2010, 22:15

      Nice find.
      But I though Tavo Whatsit said that the land they had bought was east of the city and near the airport.
      I authorise you to demolish as many trailer parks as you [strike through] like [strike through] feel absolutely necessary.

  45. Interview with the man behind the project Tavo Hellmund off autosport.
    “I’ve always said F1 has to go back to one of the true great road courses in America, whether it be a Road Atlanta or a Laguna Seca, one of these great traditional tracks. An American audience doesn’t like a flat track unless it’s an oval, where they can see everything. It doesn’t show off what F1 is. So you’ve got to go to a beautiful, natural road course. Watkins Glen was the heyday of grand prix racing in America.”

    That’s what he hopes Hermann Tilke can create on the 800 plus acres he has been given to play with. Used to remote deserts and swamps as starting points, this time he has hilly countryside, complete with lakes. Hellmund says the design is over three miles in length, with challenging corners that replicate some of the best in Europe.

    “It’s going to be holy s*** fast,” he insists…

    The name ‘Tilke’ generates a surprising amount of hostility among race fans who have not enjoyed the move to seemingly homogenous new venues in recent years, as the forum on this website testifies. But these days he is the logical option for any would be promoter simply because having done it so often he knows every last detail about what how to create pit buildings, grandstands, access road and the like.

    “I signed a deal with him a long time ago. They know where FIA and FOM want every plug, literally. They’ve already done the design, there’s already a masterplan, and we have unbelievable land, a few miles from the airport. It’s a killer location.”

  46. Here is my first attempt, on the land near Thunder Hills.

    I have tried to incorporate the 90degree first corner, for Jeff. Looking at OSM terrain maps, I fear this site is quite flat, so no corkscrews!!

    Any how, I’m pleased with my first try, feel free to tinker and improve please.

    1. That looks awesome man, but I think it’ll Spain, fantastic test of a car, but only really interesting form a technical standpoint

    2. looked great until until u got to the houses…im sure they wont mind roaring cars in their backyard or living room…

  47. My idea is between 130 and 71 highway (interstates)
    Is this the location? Its right by the airport.

  48. I’ve made fictional tracks on Scalextric Sport World if anyone wants to see a few.

  49. I designed a fictional racetrack for rFactor based around a Hydroelectric dam in the town of Thermalito, California. It’s not realistic for F1 standards but a few of the corners and the general layout would do pretty well if it were to be replicated. Have a a look and see what you think :)

  50. My dream circuit would contain three key ingredients.

    1) At least one crossover via a bridge

    2) Lots of change in gradient. A serious hill climb and then a serious decline – like Bathurst

    3) At least a few banked corners – between 5% and 15% crossfall.

    Actually my dream circuit would be a longer recreation of Oran Park

  51. I have had these ‘on ice’ for a long time now. I picked them up somewhere and really liked them, so I kept them – now I share them with you.

  52. HounslowBusGarage
    3rd June 2010, 22:33

    You cannot do that to location one, mate. That’s a ‘sconce’ type fort originally built in the 18th century and redundant by the late nineteenth. Where did you find it?
    It must be northern Europe somewhere – Baltic coast?

    1. HounslowBusGarage
      3rd June 2010, 23:09

      Wrong. Sorry they actually originated in the 17th Century with the rise of the importsnce of artillery. English Civil War saw the adoption of the ‘spikey’ fort architecture, also known as ‘trace italinnes’, and this proven military architecture spread across northern Europe in the following century.
      Here endith the lesson.

      1. Dave in NZL
        4th June 2010, 7:40

        I’m pretty sure the first one is from north of Paris.

  53. I third or fourth the “one banked corner” idea, I would like to see a deliberately simple track created, similar to Dijon or old Fuji with a lot of width and asphalt runoffs with graded strips to wear the tires worse the farther off the corner you go.

    Keep in mind that a high-speed track in Texas in June or July will test and kill many engines. Add one low-speed hairpin to this high-speed track and then you have a lot of drivers caught out when they get fatigued and a lot of faded brakes.

  54. So you uncorked the 8 year old in me that used to draw chalk tracks and race his hot wheels all day in the summer. This is by no means likely, but I had fun and I think if they DID make this, it’d be a pretty cool track. (with terrain) (without terrain) (The Gmaps Pedometer version in case you want to see the elevation changes)

    I present to you: the US Grand Prix in Austin, Texas. Measuring in at just a hair over 3 miles long, it has a total elevation change of rougly 150 feet from it’s highest to lowest points and a total of 21 turns. Part of it’s layout draws heavily from old dirt roads on this estate. It’s because of this old school method of designing based around existing roads that I feel it offers a less formulaic feel and instead nods toward classic tracks such as Spa. The dips and climbs hint at a European style, but the surroundings scream Texas ranch. Only a hop and a skip outside of Austin, it is just off of Highway 71, so it’s easy to reach this boondocks racing facility from the city.

    Allow me to take you on a lap around the course:

    -From the start/finish line we fly towards Bullfrog Bend and Bullfrog Corner. Wrapping around it’s namesake: Bullfrog Pond, there is little run-off due to the water on the inside and punishes those who get squirrely and lose it.

    -The course then runs parallel to the highway and we hit the sharp turn 3, also sometimes called “cemetary bend” for being closest to the cemetary across the highway.

    -Another short straightaway takes us into “the uphill” which is a sweeping 90-degree left-hander that takes us upwards as we start our long climb.

    -Eventually we hit the Amphitheatre, which starts with a right handed kink and then a another slight right turn before the longer left handed namesake turn.

    -A very short straight takes us to turn 7 which precedes the long straightaway up “the climb.” A slight left kink right after we pass “the old shack” and more climbing until….

    -heavy braking into the sweeping right-hander of The Plateau.

    -only a brief respite before The Cliff, which takes us steeply to the highest part of the course and then drops us into…

    -the left handed Cliff Kink and then immediately into dropoff hairpin.

    -Finally we level out a bit as we go through the Rattlesnake Esses. These include turns 11 through 15 and include a variety of fast bends. That leads into “the arena.”

    -The arena starts with Ridge bend, which starts sharp, but eases out and finally kinks to the left one final time. It’s here that we begin to head downhill a little more.

    -Arena hairpin is a slow left hander that leads into a looooong right hander called “the sweep.” It ends with Turn 19 with is a final, flat out right kink.

    -After this is The dip: a long straightaway that gets steeper, then drops off and finally levels back some and then begins to bend right.

    -This leads into Ranch corner, which is a 90-degree right hander that juts up against the old ranch of the property.

    -From here we’ve reached the looooong front straight (almost 3/4 of a mile long) which oddly has a slight right-left in the middle of it called Copperhead kink. This is a leftover of the roads this course follows, which had this kink originally.

    And that’s a lap around the US Grand Prix of Austin, Texas…

    1. HounslowBusGarage
      3rd June 2010, 23:17

      Nice tracks Joey, from your layouts you seem to to know the exact location of the 800 acres that Tivo Whatits has bought. Can you confirm?

      1. Haha, no idea. I picked out this area from scouring googlemaps around Austin for something hilly and open enough to build an F1 track X)

    2. If I may, I would suggest opening/straighteing out the Rattlesnake esses to speed them up – unfortunately they scream Bahrain loop to me – and also to open up the Arena hairpin into a fast kink, followed by that long right hander into the dip.

      Other than that, I think its a good grand prix circuit.

      1. Yeah I worried about that, too, with the Esses, but I tried to keep with the roads that were there. Plus, from looking at the topography, I think that part *might* be on a hillside, so straightening it might mean a lot of earth-moving. The turns really aren’t that slow besides possibly 14 so I don’t think it should fall victim to Bahrain-syndrome.

        And I’m not sure what you mean about the arena section. Are you saying chop it comepletely so that it’s a fast left kink before the dip?

        1. That track is lovely, I am a fan. The Rattlesnake Esses don’t scream Bahrain loop to me, they look as if they’ll be able to be taken at some sort of speed, and they wind around the hillside beautifully. Plus they give plenty of opportunities to cock up before the Arena, allowing the car behind to get close.

          1. Thanks! Yeah, I figure it’d be like the Suzuka esses in that they’re probably pretty fast and require a rhythm, otherwise: screw up your line on one and you screw them all up.

  55. My goodness I couldn’t agree more. The Osterreichring is in my opinion probably the greatest circuit ever used for Grand Prix racing. It would be nice for them to build a Grand Prix track and not an F1 track if you know what I mean. It needs to be special. Why can’t they build tracks like the Osterreicring with big enough run-offs? Its possible at Spa after all so theres no excuse for dull circuits. For a start the FIA regulations need to be changed to encourage challenging circuits. I hope the tide is going to turn sooner rather than later.

    1. I think the with the advent of tecpro barrier, grass verges and gravel traps have to be phased back in at the expense of tarmac run off.

      You look at the new Arena section at Silverstone. Granted, its not as ridiculous as other places, but its still blighting it, there is, as far as I can see, no reason to have constant run off following the new section on BOTH SIDES of the track. Also the run off added on the exit of Maggots is stupid. At no point was run off ever needed there, its ruins the look of the track, and, seeing as the modifications were mades with bikes in mind – just why?

  56. Dean Yamasaki
    3rd June 2010, 23:31

    I like your design Keith. It’s kinda like Monza without the Variantes to slow things down or maybe Interlagos without the slow middle sector.

    1. It’s not my design… that’s the Osterreichring!

      See here:

  57. Brilliant article Keith.

    I totally agree in one form or another this race need a unique feature to draw the crowd. Fastest F1 track sure would do that. To bad the regulations don’t allow for angled corners. Imaging one long corner with a strong grade on it to allow fast cornering.

    Imagine something like this track. Make it a bit longer. 7 through 10 looks like turn 8 in Turkey. If turn 23 got a strong grade to it imagine the speed they could bring with them onto the front straight would make corner 1 a overtaking spot. Corner 11 should be tighter to really slow the cars down creating another overtaking spot then they can fight for position corner 12 through 18. Lot of over and under make it tight and WIDE possibly put a grade on the outside to create a alternative race line tighter and slower inside line or faster, longer outside line. Corner 19 corner with negative angle making it hard for the driver to get it right and 18 should be on the top of a hill to create a blind corner to make it harder to get a perfect entry for 19 plus give you a “lift” at the top if downforce is not right forcing the drivers with to low downforce to lift and not getting good exit speed to the long straight or if you have to good downforce you take the corners well but with the long straight (should be the longest straight in F1 between turn 19 and 20) they will suffer big time there with all the drag.

    Circuit length somewhere around 7.5-8km. Give you longest circuit with longest straight and possibilities for fastest circuit as well.

    1. Isnt that Bathurst?

    2. It’s interesting reading someone re-imagining what Mount Panaroma should like like.

      You mention making corner 11 tighter, this is what the approach to turn 11 looks like in real life – Turn 11 Approach in the morning

    3. Prisoner Monkeys
      4th June 2010, 8:28

      Imagine something like this track. Make it a bit longer. 7 through 10 looks like turn 8 in Turkey. If turn 23 got a strong grade to it imagine the speed they could bring with them onto the front straight would make corner 1 a overtaking spot. Corner 11 should be tighter to really slow the cars down creating another overtaking spot then they can fight for position corner 12 through 18. Lot of over and under make it tight and WIDE possibly put a grade on the outside to create a alternative race line tighter and slower inside line or faster, longer outside line. Corner 19 corner with negative angle making it hard for the driver to get it right and 18 should be on the top of a hill to create a blind corner to make it harder to get a perfect entry for 19 plus give you a “lift” at the top if downforce is not right forcing the drivers with to low downforce to lift and not getting good exit speed to the long straight or if you have to good downforce you take the corners well but with the long straight (should be the longest straight in F1 between turn 19 and 20) they will suffer big time there with all the drag.

      Okay, you should go and watch on on-board video of Bathurst. Because no modifications are needed – it’s pretty much perfect.

  58. This is perhaps my oldest track design, probably 10 to 15 years old. Over the years I added some “optional” pieces of track, but in its fastest, most sweeping configuration I imagine this a 5.5 km circuit with 10 corners.
    (Funnily, only a few years ago did I realise that this design kind of reminds one of a reverse Sebring)
    (Sorry for the amateurish image, I had no time to get to design it with one of the tools mentioned in the article)

  59. Prisoner Monkeys
    4th June 2010, 2:07

    Alright, I’ve been thinking. And rather than simply building a speed-bowl, this is what I’m thinking: rally stage. Forget about long straights, just build a section of road about four or five kilometres long that goes out in a big loop and takes the hardest route through the terrain. Don’t follow the contours, just go over it. And when the driers have completed the loop, link the two ends up with a straight bit and that’s your start line. For inspiration, use the Transfăgărăşan – voted by Top Gear as the best road in the world.

  60. Hills!! Not on some billiard table flat ground… find some hills and build it according to the land

    1. Prisoner Monkeys
      4th June 2010, 8:07

      Um, that’s exactly what they’ve done. When they went out to purchase the land, the only thing on their shopping list was some interesting terrain.

      Why do people assume that everyone but the fans knows nothing about building a good circuit? Hellmund is a racer, and Tilke has proven he can produce the genuine article when he’s given the right stuff.

  61. I love this idea Keith, it’s brilliant! I’ve been reading up on the original Osterreiching and I think it’s a damn shame they neutered it to become the A1 Ring and then deserted it all together. Alain Prost himself said it was one track on which they shouldn’t change a thing, and that’s really something. I’ve watched footage of the fight between de Angelis and Keke there on youtube and it looks amazing, fast and flowing and long, everything all the new tracks aren’t. I’m tired of seeing how fast an F1 car can go through a chicane, let’s see one in its’ natural environment, a long sweeping, undulating track where it can truly showcase its’ speed! I hope my home state can do us all proud and bring us such a track. Here’s to hoping the organizers read your site.

  62. The best thing they can do is to design a very fast track something like Silverstone , Spa, & Monza where cars will run at minimum downforce & keep Tilke away from it.

    Can anyone tell me what is the minimum downforce requirement for any F1 track to build under the regulation?

    1. Prisoner Monkeys
      4th June 2010, 10:08

      There is no minimum downforce requirement – but Tilke has already been commissioned to design the circuit. That said, the organisers have already purchased what they believe to be a “killer” piece of land and Tilke has proven – with Istanbul – that when he’s given a good piece of land, he can produce the goods.

      1. So I hope in the future that Tilke is given the piece of land where he can build a low downforce track.

  63. Well no matter what the track ends up looking look they need to name one corner… “Foyt Corner”

    Cheers, Alex

  64. The guys mentioning GP2 cars have a good point. The designer has to anticipate the new car rules.

    The other point is that the track has to make money. Someone like Damon Hill might have interesting input on how to maximise 365day revenue. So it is how this track layout plays with other revenue components, be it NASCAR or sportscars or trackdays or MOTOGP or whatever.

    I really like the one big banked corner idea but only with a normal chassis. Is there much rise & fall on the site?

  65. Sorry try this – heres my circuit!
    Combine Silverstones’ Maggots and Becketts, Monza final corner and Istanbuls’ infamous Turn 8!!

  66. Amazing article Keith!

  67. my first 2 dont work

  68. My mouse-hand computer-painting skills are probably rather unimpressive, but I sketched a layout a short while ago, including a fast, wide-open first sector, a quick combination turning down into a slow corner and a closing that in my imagination would resemble the twisty, up and down spectator attraction points around Brünnchen on the Nurburgring-Nordschleife, all of which resulted in this:

    I’m hoping they will come out with something rather unique for the actual circuit design. I consider it good news that they’ve looked to buy land with some terrain features, if that information is accurate. The circuit at Portimao is a nice illustration how even a number of slow and tight sequences (as many current circuits have them) could be made much more interesting with some significant ups and downs in between (as many current circuits don’t have them).

  69. Love that track design – simpler is better – the hell with that german Tilke guy… With the exception of some turns in some of the tracks (thecarrousel turn in China, turn 7 in Istanbul… his tracks suck… I can’t understand that when everybody wants to make obvertaking possible, the races more fun… all the rules… all the tracks are going to other way around… Are thje people in charge that STUPID ? Or it’s just money talking, like in everything else… Whe nthe rating of F1 start falling and with with saw in some Asian races starts to happens in Europe… then they’ll be scared… Meanwhile, us, the fans have to suck it up… Mosley/Todt style… It sucks big time!


    I suggest building that circuit for Austin. Watch the video its create, its the worlds best corners all put togther into one single circuit.

    1. Prisoner Monkeys
      5th June 2010, 7:26

      There’s two problems with that circuit:

      1) It’s just a Greatest Hits circuit. There isn’t a single original thought put into it.

      2) It’s not a complete circuit. By my estimation, the cars still need another 180-degree bend and a straight section to link it up.

  71. KEITH, stop your dreaming. Tilke, the name says it all. Lots of corners. Of course some kind of gimmick will be thrown in. Gee maybe a track done in the shape of the state of Texas!?!? Lots of dreaming but not a chance of ever happening in our world.
    Not one of your best topics.

    1. Prisoner Monkeys
      5th June 2010, 15:46

      Tilke has proven that when he’s given the right stuff, he can produce a good circuit. Istanbul stands out as a prime example. The difference between Austin and the likes of Shanghai is that the plot of land for Austin has ben chosen by racers, not some faceless government backing the project. Tavo Hellmund clearly understands that a good tract of land is the first place to start for a good circit.

      And don’t direspect The Keith.

    1. 4 kilometers long

      1kilometer straight

      brilliant turn 1

      4 overtaking spots

      1. Prisoner Monkeys
        5th June 2010, 15:48

        I very much doubt that circuit could be built in eight kilometres, let alone four. Unless it was a karting track.

  72. Here’s my idea for the track:

    Very, very fast!

  73. how about this?


  74. Mark in Florida
    5th June 2010, 22:11

    For those that remember your tracks from Grand Turismo 2,Red Rock Valley would be a great design basis. It has a long straight a banked first turn followed by a flowing section.Later it has a section much like Suzukas esses.This fantasy track has speed and wide sections for passing.The banked turns would be a unique feature for Texas.

  75. HounslowBusGarage
    6th June 2010, 20:56

    It struck me earlier today that another of the limitations placed upon Tilke’s imagination – apart from FIA rules, flat location, ugly hotels etc – is that often it seems that he has to fit the entire track into a shoebox-sized bit of land, and the only way of doing that (excluding overpasses and tunnels) is to have the track looping backwards and forwards in its confines – all squirty straights and hairpins.
    Apparently, in Texas, they have bought 800 acres for the track site.
    Now, I’ve got no real idea exactly how much 800 acres actually is. How does it compare the entire Silverstone plot, for example? But it does occur to me that if 800 acres is really big, it might just be enough space to let a real track unfold itself properly, and Tilke might be able to produce his finest (or least worst) design yet.
    So really, how big is 800 acres?

    1. I don’t know how big the plot is for Silverstone. I do know however that 800 acres equals 323 hectares, which equals 3,230,000 square metres, which if you assumed the land was a perfect square, which it probably isn’t would mean that the land would measure about 1,800 metres, by 1,800 metres.

      1. HounslowBusGarage
        6th June 2010, 22:46

        Thanks for the lead, Pinball.
        So if it was a square of 1.8 km x 1.8 km, and if the track was a square situated 100 m inside the periphery, it would be 4 x 1.6 km =6.4 km, leaving a 1.4 km square of unused space in the centre. This would be pretty well the least economical use of the space available.
        So if the designers/orgnisers are aiming for something like 5 km (3.2 miles) track inside a 1.8 km square space, there would appear to be p-l-e-n-t-y of space for a relaxed track without too many pointless hairpins and irrelevant straights, and where the cars can actually stretch their ‘legs’.
        Plus, there would still be loadsa space for the Hangers-on Club, helicopter landing area, Superstar Enclosure, Photo-opportunity Alley . . . and somewhere where the real fans can watch the racing.

  76. i love the A1-ring good design for Austin mate!!!!!!

  77. Keith, you said it all…

    i would add an outwardly banked turn, not too steep perhaps 5 to 10 degrees. an inwardly banked long very fast corner… and a crest where (1970s f1) cars can lift off halfway down the longest straight to keep drivers on their toes…

    you got my blood boiling with this fastest lap stuff Keith… LOL

  78. Banking is synonomous with NASCAR…leave it there. F1 is the premier ROAD RACING venue. The US wants what evryone else wants…COMPETITIVE RACING. The track needs passing lanes !! High speed is fine but without passing its just another train to watch. As only the top teams have that kind of top speed available, why not make the layout very technical but fast( no 20mph hairpins) with lots of room to pass. Keep overall speed advantage down and let drivers DRIVE.

  79. Mark in Florida
    7th June 2010, 22:54

    Banking on a track does not mean that there is no passing in that area of the track.Look at the 24 hours of Daytona those drivers pass each other all the time going into turn one it is one of the prime area`s for making a pass.Banking is a great way to make passing zones because a car that is set up the right way can either cut down low on the track to the inside or go high and fast on the outside.Maybe the nuances of banking escapes the Euros,but believe me incredibly fast passes do occur on banked turns.A car that is under steering will be even more evil to handle while a driver that is loose biased but can keep his right foot down and go right by.Every turn should not be banked of course but a few here and there would appeal to a lot of people in America that`s new to the sport,after all it`s our track not yours.Also it wouldn`t look to good if one of the new generation Indy Cars with the upcoming turbo motors tested on this track and laid down some serious speed.F1 needs to bring their A game and impress everyone with a really fast track.

  80. Minor banking in one area or even a couple might be ok but banking should not be the principal attraction. Nobody cares whether an Indy car is FASTER. Its an OVAL racer….It doesnt have to do much accept go fast. F1 is much more than that. Again..PREMIER ROAD RACING. As for being our track and not the europeans…who cares. The concern should first be for the drivers and then the fans. Racing has always had good and bad circuits all over the world. As spectators the only thing we want is COMPETITION. We want as many cars and drivers as possible to be able to compete. All spectators love when a underdog driver actually bests a world champion or a low budget team bests a corporate giant. Design the track to be a DRIVERS track. The fast guys will always be fast but you can surely make them work for it !!

    1. Nobody cares whether an Indy car is FASTER. Its an OVAL racer….It doesnt have to do much accept go fast.

      Not true. This year’s Indycar calendar has (and last year’s had) more road and street courses than ovals.

  81. Great article Keith – this track needs balance which can lend itsself to any given team on any given day – call it an “underdog track”. Make the straights too long, then say see ya to McLaren. Make it a downforce track, then say see ya to RBR. The worst thing that can happen is a one-team break-away that turns into a yawner of a race, with no passing. That is what’s killed F1 in the US. Study tracks where Renault, Force India, and (even) Torro Rosso had success. I’d love to see Andrian Sutil overtake Hamilton. I would crack up, as long as Alonso wins.

  82. Jim Morrison
    19th July 2010, 23:49

    Guys you do realize that the track has already been finalized and there aint going to be any suggestions.. Sure I would love an early Monza, or Spa or even La Guna Seca, but that aint gonna happen..

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